As the College sports season winds down, SportsTalkSC will invite beat writers who cover the opponents of USC and Clemson to weigh in on the 2017 football season. SportsTalk reached the Louisville Courier Journal sports reporter Steve Jones to preview the Cardinals who host Clemson in their first road game of the season.
Listen to what Steve Jones had to say on SportsTalk in the player below:
Louisville’s playoff hopes hinge on the cleats of quarterback Lamar Jackson. Last season Louisville’s offense stunned the NCAA with blowout wins all across the board including a 63-20 win over Florida St. Going into the week before playoff week Louisville sat at fifth in the post season playoff rankings. But offensive line woes hamstrung Louisville going down the stretch and led to a series of crippling losses. In a 36-10 loss to Houston the Cardinals allowed 11 sacks. Then late in the fourth quarter against Kentucky, a team they were expected to beat by four touchdowns, the offensive line melted away on a Lamar Jackson scramble in the red zone which he fumbled and set up a winning field goal for the Wildcats.
Going into the 2017 Louisville hopes to balance out the offensive line by installing a pro-style offense reminiscent of the Petrino circa the early 200s. The pro-style approach will intend to lighten the load on Jackson by removing some of the zone reads and forcing other players to take control of the offense. Petrino’s gamble of taking the ball out of Jackson’s hands will pay off if late game sacks and fumbles from fatigue disappear later in the season.
The ACC could turn heads in the NCAA with some quality defenses but don’t look for Louisville’s name among the greats. The Cardinals best defensive player last year NT DeAngelo Brown went undrafted before signing with the Tennessee Titans and there is a bit of a question mark as to who will fill in that hole. The Cardinals tapped redshirt junior DT DeAsian Richardson in the offseason to fill that role but also looked at DE Drew Bailey. Look for four-star, junior college transfer Chris Williams to make his debut on the starting line as well.