Front-runners emerging in QB race

Officially, Louisville's quarterback race is a three-way battle between Adam Froman, Justin Burke and Zach Stoudt. But Steve Kragthorpe says the field could get narrowed very quickly once preseason practice gets underway August 6.

The question everybody wants answered as Louisville moves closer to the start of preseason football camp – who will replace Hunter Cantwell as the Cardinals starting quarterback? Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe hopes to have the issue resolved shortly after practice gets underway August 6.

"I'd like to within the first ten days of practice – we get 29 practices – whittle it down to two guys that I think are going to compete, then go for ten more practices and whittle that down to the guy I think is going to be the starter and give him those nine practices to get ready for the first game," Kragthorpe said. "That's my timetable on paper but I'm not sure how it will unfold. I hope it doesn't (take) any longer than that but it certainly could happen quicker."

Froman and Burke appear to be the clear frontrunners. A transfer from Santa Rosa (CA) College, Froman recently told the that "it's looking good as far as me being the starter" this season for the Cardinals. Burke, a transfer from N.C. State, is expected to provide a strong challenge to Froman for the starting job during fall practice.

"We'll evaluate those guys on a day to day basis from a statistical and intangible standpoint – the way they run the offense, the way they operate in the meeting room and the way they communicate with their teammates on the field," Kragthorpe said.

Justin Burke

Whoever wins the starting job will make his first start – and first throw – in a Louisville uniform against Indiana State in the season-opener September 5 at PJCS.

"We'll take due diligence in making that decision. It's a monumental decision," Kragthorpe said. "The quarterback is usually the marquee position on any football team and we've got to find a guy that can take us where we want to go."

After finishing last in the Big East a year ago, the Cardinals want to get back to winning games. Louisville ended the 2008 season on a five-game losing streak and hasn't posted a winning season – or gone to a bowl game – in Kragthorpe's first two seasons. That's something Kragthorpe desperately needs to change.

As for Burke, who sat out last season at UofL after transferring from N.C. State, Kragthorpe said he's got a solid shot at winning the starting job.

"I think Justin had an excellent spring," Kragthorpe said. "I thought it was a beneficial year (2008) for him because he got to be in the room and get in some practice repetitions. And then he was on the sidelines charting plays on game day at home and that was a good situation for him to learn the thought-process a coach goes through. He's got his weight down and he's more physical and stronger than he has been."

Burke completed only two of three passes during his career with the Wolfpack but was one of the most decorated players coming out of the Kentucky high school ranks three years ago. Though Froman probably moves better outside the pocket and has more ability to keep plays ‘alive,' Burke definitely has more Division 1 experience and might make better decisions with the ball in the pocket.

"I think he's a guy right in the middle of that quarterback race and he could be a guy to take it," Kragthorpe said.

Asked if he envisioned a two-quarterback scenario developing this season, Kragthorpe said, "It's not something you'd rule out but I've rather have one. It's hard to prepare two quarterbacks to get ready to play."

Kragthorpe Comments On Key Players

Victor Anderson: One of the things Victor Anderson does extremely well is catch the ball. We have to find ways to get him different touches. We've got to find some ways to get him the ball in wide-open spaces so he's not running the power or iso all the time and he can make some plays out in space one on one."

Scott Long: "Scott is a dynamic person not just a player on the field. He creates matchups on the field with his speed, size, athleticism and ability to go get the ball vertically down the field and make plays. He's a great leader in the locker room and brings tempo to the practice field every day. I think those are the areas you really miss him."

Bilal Powell: "He should be back and healthy again. I thought he did some great things as a true freshman, particularly in the Rutgers game."

Brandon Heath: "He's been a hybrid for us and has played well for us on special teams. He's been more of a safety for us but now plays a position called out "Card" linebacker and I think it's a position that really suits his abilities. He likes to run and make plays in the open field."

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