A good running game is a quarterback's best friend. If Friday night's spring game is any indication, Louisville quarterback Hunter Cantwell will be blessed with an extremely effective – and potentially explosive – running attack next fall.
With Brock Bolen, Bilal Powell and Victor Anderson sharing the load in the offenses 38-17 victory in the spring game, the Louisville offense gained 201 yards on 36 carries. That's a pretty good sign for a rushing attack that was mostly anemic in 2007.
"Last year we ran into a lot of cover two and were throwing the ball a lot into cover two because we weren't really establishing that good running game," Cantwell explained. "Coach Brohm has set a really good emphasis that we've got to be able to run the ball and get teams out of cover two.
"I think the better we get at running the ball that's going to open (things) up and we're going to get one on one on the outside. That's what we tried to do tonight is establish the running game. If we do that the passing game will come later."
Bolen led Louisville in rushing and consistently gained big yards after initial contact. Powell also ran well but it has been the emergence of redshirt freshman Victor Anderson this spring that provides so much hope for an improved rushing attack next season.
For the game, Cantwell had good command of the offense. He completed 11 of his 18 throws, including a short rollout touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Scott Long on the first possession of the scrimmage. Overall, Cantwell led the No. 1 offense to scores on three of six possessions.
"The defense really stepped up but we were a little bit fresher and came out on top and did some good things," said Cantwell.
If this spring proved anything it's that Cantwell, a 6-foot-5 senior, has firmly established himself as Brian Brohm's replacement at quarterback. The strong-armed former walk-on has a firm grasp of the offense and has become a solid leader on the field and in the huddle.
"I just go out and play," Cantwell said. "I've always felt like the (job) was mine to lose. I know nothing is guaranteed and it's still not. Matt and Tyler are amazing quarterbacks and have amazing talent. But I want to play. I came here and walked on to play for the Cardinals and I'm going to do whatever it takes to lead this team to a Big East championship."
In his first three seasons at UofL, Cantwell served as chief apprentice behind Brohm. In limited action, Cantwell proved more than capable of leading Louisville to wins, going 3-1 as a starter when Brohm missed time with various injuries.
"People can say I've paid my dues but I got amazing tutelage from Brian Brohm, Coach Petrino, Coach Brohm and now Coach Kragthorpe," Cantwell said. "It's been a (huge) benefit to me sitting on the sidelines watching Brian play and learning from amazing coaches. I see my experience as great experience not something that has held me back."
Now, Cantwell will spend the summer preparing for his shot at the big-time as the Cardinals look to improve on a disappointing 6-6 season.
"The biggest thing (I take out of the spring) is learning how to lead this team and to get into the right checks as far as the running game and taking over more of a leadership role," said Cantwell.
"He's stepped up and become more of a leader for the offense and the whole team," said running back Brock Bolen.