It's game week! In a few short days, more than 30,000 Louisville fans will descend on downtown Atlanta for the Cardinals season-opener against No.7 Auburn in the Chick-fil-A kickoff bowl at the Georgia Dome.
A number of storylines hover around the Cardinals as the they enter game week preparations.
1. Louisville's starting quarterback: Which of Louisville's quarterbacks receives the start in the opener against Auburn has become the top storyline and will only continue to grow as the kickoff nears. With the exception of Tyler Ferguson's decision to transfer, not much about the competition at quarterback has been revealed by Bobby Petrino. What we do know is that each has improved and they all have assets that they bring to the offense. Outside of rookie Lamar Jackson, who has been rather impressive since he stepped on campus, the remaining three – Kyle Bolin, Reggie Bonnafon and Will Gardner – all have valuable experience leading the Cardinals to victory in 2014.
2. The Cardinals offensive front: Louisville lost three starter from last year's offensive line to the NFL and rebuilding it has been a priority. Petrino and his offensive staff have recruited well, signing elite level high school prospects, while also utilizing the junior college ranks to assist in filling immediate needs. A dozen players competed for the five starting spots during fall camp, including a pair of impressive true freshmen. The line will need to mesh quickly and prove formidable for the Cardinals offense to improve as hoped in year two.
3. Just how big of a 'handful' will the Cardinals defense be for the Tigers: The U of L defense ranked among the nation's best in multiple categories last fall, but this year's group believes they can be even better. One Cardinal defender described this season's defense as a unit that will be a “handful” for opposing offenses, with speed, size and creativity all playing factors. Louisville returns a lot up front, coupled with the addition of key transfers in the secondary, so the foundation for an even stingier defense in 2015 has been laid.
4. Louisville's rebuilt receiving corps: Louisville lost 82 percent of its pass receptions from a year ago and have just one receiver – James Quick – returning who hauled in at least 10 receptions in 2014. Quick, who finished third on the team with 36 catches last season, will be counted on heavily in 2015, but he has help. A pair of transfers, Jamari Staples (UAB) and JaQuay Savage (Texas A&M) bring experience and are expected to be key targets, while a restocked group that includes a number of talented freshmen will provide depth.
5. Louisville's rebuilt secondary: Highlighted by Gerod Holliman's record-tying 14 interceptions, the Cardinals led the country with 26 in 2014. That total will be difficult to reach again, but the rebuilt group has the potential to quickly ease the concerns of an entirely departed secondary. Former Georgia transfers Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaq Wiggins highlight the new look secondary, but other big-play makers are also present. Look for true freshmen Jaire Alexander to play a role this fall.