Faces to know for UofL football season
07/16/2014 09:37 PM
Technically, it should be numbers to know, since football players wear helmets during the game, but you get the gist.
Gardner backed up Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, so he only got in during garbage time. But he was a solid quarterback for the few minutes we saw him. He was 8-of-12 on the season for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He has big shoes to fill, but Bobby Petrino is the perfect coach to give Gardner the freedom to let it fly.
Even though Gardner has not taken a single starting snap for the Cards, let’s already get to know his back-up and the quarterback of the future, Reggie Bonnafon. This dual-threat quarterback is a Louisville-native and was committed to the Cards before Charlie Strong left for Texas. Bonnafon was a high priority for Bobby Petrino to keep committed, and after briefly considering his options, the 6’3” QB signed with UofL. As a senior at Trinity, Bonnafon threw for 2,606 yards and 16 touchdowns while only throwing eight interceptions. He was also the team’s second leading rusher with 895 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Basically, all those numbers add up to a bright future for the Cards, but this season, just look for gradual improvement as he adjusts to the college game.
Another Louisville-native, Parker is the crown jewel of the UofL receiving corp and maybe even the best receiver in the ACC. He ended the 2013 season as UofL’s leading receiver with 55 catches for 885 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named to the Maxwell Award watch list, and if Bobby Petrino has anything to say about it, Parker will be Gardner’s top target to light up opposing defenses.
Last season, Rogers was the Cards third leading receiver catching 44 passes for 536 yards as a junior. With Louisville losing Damian Copeland to the NFL draft, Rogers is primed and ready to step up for UofL. His production as a Card has been pretty steady, catching for 454 yards as a freshmen and 505 yards as a sophomore. Look for Rogers to translate that consistency into bigger numbers and have a break out year.
This Auburn transfer did not quite live up to the hype last year. Due to hip and groin injuries that limited his time, Dyer only played in seven games but still managed to rush for 223 yards and two touchdowns. But take a look back at his time at Auburn to see his true potential. Dyer already has two 1,000-yard seasons under his belt as a freshman and a sophomore, and he scored 15 touchdowns in his career as a Tiger. Dyer had season-ending surgery in December, so this year, look for a healthy Dyer to exceed his already gaudy numbers from when he played at Auburn.
Although he lines up as a tight end, Christian is basically another receiver for the Cards to pass to. He began his college career at Florida, spending just one season there before transferring to UofL. After sitting out one year due to transfer rules, Christian averaged 15.2 yards per catch as a junior. He has already been tabbed as one of the nation’s high level tight ends by the John Mackey Award watch list. Keep an eye on him throughout the season as Bobby Petrino installs more of his offense.
Lineman need love to, and Jake Smith is already getting some preseason love from the good folks who give out the Rimington Award and the Outland Trophy, for the top center and lineman respectively. Last year, Smith moved to the center position from guard and started all 13 games there. He was a first-team All-American selection and has 38 starts total to his name as a Cardinal. Offensive lineman are the only guys who do not want to hear their name called out because that usually means they have done something wrong. So don’t expect to hear much of Smith, but that doesn’t mean he should be ignored.
Mauldin is incredibly versatile defensive player, who moved to defensive line but can also play linebacker. Last season he racked up 42 tackles and 9.5 sacks, and he was already named to the Bednarik Award watch list and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Preseason watch list. While Mauldin has already proved he is a talented player, watch out for how he transitions to new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s schemes.
Burgess is a hard hitting linebacker who was credited with 71 tackles last season and one interception that he took for 39 yards. As with Mauldin, look to see how Burgess and the rest of the defense adjust to the new coaching staff without defensive-minded Charlie Strong at the helm of the program.
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