2014 Record: 9-4
Returning starters: Reggie Bonnafon, QB; Will Gardner, QB; Aaron Epps, OT; Tobijah Hughley, C; James Quick, WR; Brandon Radcliff, RB; James Burgess, LB; Keith Kelsey, LB; Sheldon Rankins, DT; Pio Vatuvei, DT.
Most important offensive player: Brandon Radcliff, RB – With four QBs still battling for the starting position there’s a lot of pressure on the running game. Radcliff was the leading rusher last season and will be the guy who gets it 20-25 times a game this time around.
Most important defensive player: Josh Harvey-Clemsons, S – The Georgia transfer sat out last season and has to replace Gerod Holliman, who tied an NCAA record last season with 14 interceptions. If Louisville keeps up the with the top defense, JHC will be a big reason.
Emerging offensive player: Pedro Sibiea, C; Sibiea started his career as a defensive lineman and switched back and forth before landing on offense last season. He was a back-up tackle last season and the staff asked him after spring ball to learn the center position. He’s picked it up and is expected to be starting at center for the Cardinals.
Emerging defensive player: DeAngelo Brown, DT: He’s the big guy in the middle and coordinator Todd Grantham says is the “most important” guy to the defense. He’s one of the strongest players on the team and takes on double teams to free up others.
How they matchup with Syracuse: The defense is expecting to be better than they were last year with three key transfers in the mix now, so the Cardinals feel good about the matchup with the Orange. They’ll again be really physical on defense and will try to take advantage of that aspect of the game, while the offense is still a work in progress. There’s no telling which of the four QBs might start and who could be in there playing by the time the two teams meet.
Season outlook: The Cardinals feel good about the season even with a tough start: Auburn, Houston and Clemson in the first 12 days. With a good running game and solid defense, the Cardinals are hoping to match – or surpass – last year’s 9-win mark.