Despite the losses to the NFL Draft, Bobby Petrino's troops return two experienced running backs in Michael Bush and Kolby Smith. The juniors, who combined for 1,081 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2004, will be joined by 6-foot, 192-pound redshirt freshman George Stripling in 2005.
"I'm feeling pretty good about it," he said. "It's a lot of pressure because I'm going to be playing in the first game of my collegiate career. I'm sure that I'll be ready for it, plus we have some great backs, so I'll sit back and watch them."
The Jacksonville, Florida native has looked impressive since first arriving in Louisville last summer - displaying a dangerous combination of breakaway speed and toughness.
"We were in the weight room almost everyday this summer getting ready for the fall," Stripling said. "This summer was all about getting stronger and being ready for when practice started."
After spending a year studying the position and offense behind the most dominate group of backs in school history, Stripling says that he's comfortable with the offense and ready to contribute.
"Basically it is kind of simple," he said of the offense. "Once you get the light bulb does come on, plus I'm kind of used to it because we ran it at my high school."
He also admits that running behind an offensive line that features a couple of All-American's in tackle Travis Leffew and center Jason Spitz and can boast of an average height of over 6-foot-5, and an average weight of 321-pounds, is a luxury.
"We have an excellent offensive line," Stripling explained. "They open up some big holes and really make it happen. Everytime we get our hands on the ball there is going to be some positive yardage because we have a great line."
However, despite Bush and Smith likely to get the majority of the carries this fall, he knows that it won't take long for his number of be called.
"I'm going to be a little nervous when that happens," he explained. "Hopefully I'll get the butterflies out on my first carry."