Cards riding Radcliff to victory

10/06/2014 07:00 AM

There is no doubt that defense is the reason why the Louisville football team is 5-1. Statistically, it is the number one defensive unit in the country.

While that ranking is extremely impressive and cannot be overlooked, points have to be scored to win games, and that is where Brandon Radcliff comes into play.

Through the first four games of the season, the sophomore running back was averaging just under 31 yards per game. At the beginning of the season, he was listed as fourth string as his position. Those factors don’t matter anymore, because Radcliff has become the start of the UofL offense.

Two weeks ago against Wake Forest, the 5-foot-9 sophomore broke out for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Then in his encore performance against Syracuse Friday night, Radcliff ran for another 110 yards and two more scores.

That means over the last two games, both of which were wins for the Cards, Radcliff has scored 24 points, compared to a combined 16 from the Demon Deacons and Orange.

Why is the emergence of Brandon Radcliff so important? UofL lost its original starting quarterback after a week four win against FIU. That left true freshman QB Reggie Bonnafon on deck, thrown into the limelight and forced to carry a college football team just a few months removed from high school.

In Bonnafon’s first start, there were a number of botched exchanges with then-start Dominique Brown who was benched. Those fumbles may have been the fault of either player, but turnovers don’t help the confidence of a first-time gunslinger.

After a shaky start against Wake Forest, Brandon Radcliff entered the backfield and ran wild. He continued that trend against Syracuse despite another up and down performance from Bonnafon.

While Reggie is getting adjusted to the college game, and the injury status of Will Gardner (and DeVante Parker for that matter) remains uncertain, having a safety blanket on offense is key. Radcliff is exactly that for the Cards, and that’s what makes his performances so important.

The upcoming game against Clemson is a daunting one. The Tigers are a Jekyll and Hyde team, but there offense is explosive. The Cards top-ranked defense will once again be relied on heavily, but the offensive side will have to put up points.

No matter who is under center, UofL can at least breathe a little easier knowing someone on offense is capable of carrying the team. That player is sophomore running back Brandon Radcliff.


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