Bolen, Powell form potent attack

Brock Bolen and Bilal Powell hope to form a potent one-two duo in the Louisville backfield next season. While Bolen wears defenses out with his physical style, Powell uses speed to punish the opposition. With an increased emphasis on the running game, Bolen and Powell will be key players to Louisville's success in 2008.

Brock Bolen and Bilal Powell hope to form a potent one-two duo in the Louisville backfield next season. While Bolen wears defenses out with his physical style, Powell uses speed to punish the opposition. With an increased emphasis on the running game, Bolen and Powell will be key players to Louisville's success in 2008.

"The one thing we're going to focus on this year is running the ball more," Bolen said recently. "There's a little bit more focus on the running game."

That's good news to the 6-0, 208-pound Powell, too.

"We want to run the ball," Powell said.

A healthy rushing attack will also serve to take pressure off of starting quarterback Hunter Cantwell - something that surely would prove beneficial to his passing numbers and the Cardinals offense.

"Everybody kind of brings something different," Cantwell said. "Bilal, Vic and Brock. All of those guys have power and they're quick. So to have those guys rotating in and always having someone in fresh and never losing a beat is (great)."

During Bobby Petrino's four years in Louisville, the Cardinals were annually one of the top rushing teams in the Big East. Last season, Louisville's running game slumped with Charlie Stubbs calling the plays. This year, new offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm plans to place more emphasis on running the football and establishing dominance on the ground.


Bilal Powell

"Last year we made some mistakes and we were always trying to play catch up," Bolen said. "We're not going to make those mistakes and we're going to focus on doing things right and we're not going to get behind and we're going to be able to run the ball."

According to Powell, the change from Stubbs to Brohm has been well received by the players on the offensive side of the ball.

"Everybody is loving Coach Brohm at offensive coordinator," Powell said. "Everybody is having fun and coming out and competing. He has an understanding with everybody. He's real soft-spoken until you make him mad."

Bolen and Powell will give Louisville's opponents plenty to worry about next season. With Bolen, opponents will have to deal with his power and versatility, while Powell provides speed and explosiveness. Add freshman Victor Anderson into the mix and the Cardinals have three backs that can give defenders a variety of different looks.

"I can run with power and we've got Bilal Powell and Victor Anderson who can run with speed and finesse," said Bolen. "We've got a little bit of everything. So we've got some great backs this year."

Powell says Bolen's pounding style wears out the defense and takes some of the pressure off him.

"I think Brock as far as pounding it and pounding it takes a lot of focus off me and the next thing you know we can hit them on the outside with some speed," said Powell.

Bolen fought through injuries during his junior season but appears to be at 100 percent this spring.

"I'm feeling great," Bolen said. "I was actually out last week with a virus but I'm feeling great this week. It should be a great spring."

More of the reserved type, Bolen wants to become a leader on offense this spring.

"I want to become a better leader and do whatever I can to help get the team better," Bolen said.

Powell came on late for the Card last season, flashing his ability and potential in Louisville's final two games against South Florida and Rutgers. Louisville split those two games while Powell rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns, including a 90 yard effort in the Cardinals 41-38 comeback victory over Rutgers in the season finale.

"Getting in late coming into the spring it gives me and extra edge," Powell said. "Coming in I know what I've got to do to be the No. 1 back. I just want to come out and work hard."

Powell has made some important improvements during the off-season, particularly with his mental awareness of the offense and a better understanding of his responsibilities.

"My mental game as far as getting to know the plays, the routes and my check downs have improved (but) I've just got to continue to grow," Powell said.


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