Who would replace Hunter Cantwell as Louisville's starting quarterback in 2009 was the No. 1 storyline coming into spring practice. It's still the top question. Before practice was closed, InsideTheVille.com predicted the race would eventually come down to two players – NC State transfer Justin Burke and junior college transfer Adam Froman. Don't be surprised if those two emerge 1-2 Friday night.
So what do we know about these two signal callers? Well, for starters, neither quarterback boasts much game experience at the BCS-level or possesses a ‘cannon' for an arm like Cantwell. Based on open spring practices, Burke appears the more accurate passer of the two, while Froman probably runs the best. Who manages the offense best and makes the fewest mistakes Friday night should be the front-runner heading into fall camp.
Defensive Line Concerns
Replacing starting defensive tackles Adrian Grady and Earl Heyman, plus starting defensive end Maurice Mitchell was the top defensive concern coming into spring drills. It appears it's still a troubling issue for first-year defensive coordinator Brent Guy.
Experience is one problem. Depth is another concern. The Cardinals are woefully thin inside, a fact that prompted the move of 248-pound Rock Keys from tight end to defensive tackle toward the end of spring drills. L.D. Scott, one of the most experienced returnees at end, missed several practices and had surgery after suffering an injury. Louisville will likely be forced to count on junior college transfers Joe Townsend, Malcolm Tatum and Tim High to help up front next season.
DE/DT L.D. Scott is on the shelf. Bilal Powell, the team's most experienced running back, missed most of spring practice and also had surgery. Though both players are expected back this summer, their departures left big holes this spring.
Several other players, including one-time starters Scott Long and Mozell Axson, sat out spring drills while recovering from off-season surgery. OL Ryan Kessling, DL Zach Kiernan, DT Tyler Jessen and WR Troy Pascley also missed practices because of injury. Star RB Victor Anderson missed several practices with a shoulder injury, forcing walk-on Blayne Donnell into a significant role this spring.
Louisville fans will get their first extensive look at Steve Kragthorpe's offense during Friday night's spring game? What will it look like? Will it resemble the offense Charlie Stubbs ran two years ago? Expect lots of short, quick passes to wide outs. Also expect tight end involvemet and swing passes to running backs Victor Anderson and Darius Ashley out of the backfield. Regardless which quarterback is under center, you have to figure Anderson, the 2008 Big East Freshman of the Year, will get lots of touchdes.
Junior Rock Keys moved from a crowded situation at tight end to help provide much needed depth at defensive tackle. Speedy redshirt freshman Jacques Caldwell moved from wide receiver to cornerback, while redshirt freshman Daniel Brown dropped down from safety to outside linebacker.
Fan turnout at the spring game last season declined significantly from the 28,000 who attended in 2007 on the heels of the Orange Bowl. Last year's reported attendance of 17,200 was an alarming drop-off of nearly 11,000 fans. That's a clear statement from a fan-base deeply concerned about the direction of the Louisville football program under head coach Steve Kragthorpe.
Will that trend continue? This spring has been unusual by Louisville standards because the program has been off-limits to fans and media since the sixth practice. If discussion, or lack thereof, about spring practice on InsideTheVille.com message boards is an indication, interest in Cardinal football is currently at its lowest level since this website opened for business in 2002.