Cards still looking for answers

Louisville was picked to finish seventh in the Big East last week by the league's media members. Now, the Cardinals hope to find answers to several major questions as two a days begin.

Quarterback battle continues
Storyline: The race between four quarterbacks for the starting job last spring now appears down to two – juniors Justin Burke and Adam Froman. Burke, a transfer from NC State, is credited with his decision-making in the pocket, while Froman, a junior college transfer, has the ability to keep plays alive with his feet. Steve Kragthorpe will evaluate both candidates for the first two weeks of fall camp then make a decision and prepare the winner to start in the opener against Indiana State.

Questions: Who wins the job – Burke or Froman? Which QB will emerge as the most consistent - and reliable - performer? Will either player be able to cut down on turnovers, a problem last season, and efficiently get the ball into the hands of Louisville's playmakers?

Outlook: Froman might have the edge because of his mobility and play-making ability. He also appears to provide the most on-field leadership and command in the huddle of the three main candidates.

Re-tooled offensive line
Storyline: Brent Myers has a big task re-tooling Louisville's offensive line after losing the two best lineman from years team - first round NFL pick Eric Wood and All-Big East tackle George Bussey.

Questions: Who steps up to replace the leadership Wood provided the past few years? Is redshirt freshman Mario Benavides ready to fill Wood's enormous shoes at center? Will JUCO Joe Evinger be eligible? Is freshman Kamran Joyer ready to step in an make an impact this season? Can either Jeff Adams or Greg Tomczyk protect the quarterbacks blindside at left tackle?

Outlook: This unit is critical to Louisville's success on offense, especially with a new quarterback under center. The Cardinals will miss Wood's leadership and Bussey's athleticism but there's enough returning experience and talent to piece together a solid line. But what about depth?

Defensive line makeover
Storyline: Three starters must replaced, including run-stuffing defensive tackles Adrian Grady and Earl Heyman. The Cardinals couldn't generate much of a pass rush last season and hope to find a playmaker or two who can apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks.

Questions: Can Louisville stop the run without Heyman and Grady in the middle? Are there any playmakers on the roster who can generate a pass rush from the end positions? Are JUCO transfers Joe Townsend, Malcolm Tatum and Tim High ready to step in and provide depth immediately?

Outlook: Walker and Jessen should be solid in the middle against the run but depth behind them is a major concern. Louisville desperately needs Rodney Gnat to step up his play and become a legit pass rush threat at end.

Secondary a major concern
Storyline: Three starters must be replaced from a unit that was picked apart at the end of the season, including allowing seven touchdown passes in the season-ending beat down against Rutgers. Able corner Johnny Patrick returns but Louisville will count on several junior college transfers for a quick fix.

Questions: Is Karldell Dunning ready to lockdown the corner position opposite Patrick? Or will one of several JUCO transfers, including Preston Pace, win the job? Is Richard Raglin back to full strength? Can JUCO Terence Simien make an impact at safety? Or will C.J. Peake finally make an impact after a year off?

Outlook: If Preston Pace can adapt quickly Louisville's corners should be solid. The big questions reside at safety where Richard Raglin is coming off an injury and the Cards are counting on junior college transfer Terence Simien and a couple of true freshmen to provide depth.

Special teams weren't so special last season
Storyline: Louisville couldn't kick a field goal to save their lives last season. The Cardinals often opted to go for it on fourth down rather than attempt field goals because Steve Kragthorpe couldn't count on his kickers to convert. The same three kickers are back this season.

Questions: Are they improved? Is there a reliable kicker on the roster? Is Chris Philpott, the presumed front-runner for both jobs, capable of handling both kick-off and placekicking duties? Will a healthy Trent Guy translate to improved numbers in the return game?

Outlook: Louisville's return game should be better with a healthy Trent Guy returning kicks and Corey Goetsche is a reliable punter who can change field position around. The biggest question - again - is with the kicking game. That question won't be answered until the bullets are live and the Cards need to split the uprights on fourth down inside the 30.

The Cardinals attended the annual Kickoff Luncheon Thursday morning before conducting their first scrimmage on Thursday evening.


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