With just about 48 hours to go until the Cards and the Cats meet on the gridiron for the 15th straight year, the prevailing emotions among both fan bases remain confusion and uncertainty.
With that in mind, there's really only one thing for us here (me) to try and do: confuse the hell out of you even more.
Here's my best attempt.
Cause for optimism: Did you see the man's first throw in the '06 Miami game?
He's big, he's smart, he might have the strongest arm of any Louisville quarterback in history, and he's about as experienced as a first-year starter can be.
Cause for concern: We've talked a bit about how he's never gone into a game knowing that he's not just keeping the starting seat war for someone else, but how about the fact that he hasn't taken a significant snap in almost two years?
Also not being discusssed is the fact that should Cantwell go down, Louisville doesn't have another quarterback on its roster who has attempted a collegiate pass. By most accounts, Tyler Wolfe is capable of getting the job done, but the likelihood of him being relegated to third-string duty had Matt Simms not slipped up is a bit concerning.
Cause for optimism: We've all had the chance to see what Brock Bolen can bring to the table, and that should be an extreme source of comfort. He's justifiably earned the reputation as a hard-nosed kid willing to take on any linebacker in order to pick up an extra yard or two, but it's not until he gets the ball in his hands that you remember how fleet of foot he is. We're talking about a senior with a career average of 5.3 yards per carry. He could be an every down back for a lot of BCS conference teams.
It's still a crying shame that we weren't able to see a steady dose of Bilal Powell throughout last season, but I think the little time he did spend in the spotlight spoke volumes about just how good this kid can be. Human beings aren't supposed to be able to cut like that.
Victor Anderson's next collegiate carry will be his first one, but when you hear the same high level of praise coming from a number of extremely respected football people, it generally means you've got something to get excited about.
Cause for concern: Powell's talent is immense, but even when he was running wild against South Florida and Rutgers, he was carrying the ball loosely like a defensive back returning an interception, and he appeared hesitant to run inside the tackles. There's no way for any of us to know just how much he's evolved as a ball carrier over the past nine months.
Victor Anderson, as mentioned earlier, is a freshman without any real game experience. And let's not forget that new starting fullback Joe Tronzo has also never been a full-time starter. Over the last two years, Bolen has made us take having a solid lead blocker for granted.
Cause for optimism: Doug Beaumont is good, and he has the potential to be very good. As I've said before, he's the one guy on the team who can really punish the Kentucky zone by making plays in the middle of the field.
Josh Chichester is very tall, and much improved.
Cause for concern: Two total catches as a unit in 2007, Chris Vaughn (the man who made both of those catches) is gimpy, Trent Guy has only been practicing for a week, Scott Long is out, Beaumont is two inches shorter than Harry Douglas, and Troy Pascley, Maurice Clark, Josh Chichester and Andrew Robinson have never caught a ball in a Division-I game.
I think that just about covers it.
Cause for optimism: Eric Wood might be the best center in the country, and George Bussey has the size and talent to get paid to play the game for a number of years after he leaves Louisville.
Mark Wetterer and Jeff Adams are both enormous, and had come along well enough to see the field as freshmen a season ago. Abdul Kuyateh is also experienced for a second-year (at Louisville) player, and performed well enough over the spring and summer to unseat Brian Roche, the man who was the starter at right guard for the final four games of last season.
Cause for concern: Both Wetterer and Adams will be making their first career starts, and Kuyateh was penalty-prone when he saw his playing time increase towards the end of last season. Roche did make four starts in 2007, but aside from that, there's very little experience behind the starting five.
Cause for optimism: Competition apparently brought out the best in both Pete Nochta and Johnnie Burns, as the coaching staff said both made great strides in the offseason and will share field time to start the season. The additions of junior college transfers Rock Keys and Cameron Graham, as well as true freshman Nate Nord have created significant depth at the position.
Cause for concern: Nochta's playing experience to this point has been limited to special teams work, and Burns was a linebacker nine months ago.
Cause for optimism: When healthy, Earl Heyman and Adrian Grady are both All-Big East type players. Maurice Mitchell has the potential to be an elite pass rusher, and Rodney Gnat and L.D. Scott have both proven their worth at times over the past two seasons. Freshman end Greg Scruggs has also apparently shown that he's the real deal.
Cause for concern: Grady hasn't played since last September, Mitchell has been wildly inconsistent throughout his Cardinal career, and Gnat and Scott both disappeared for long stretches last season. U of L is also extremely thin at tackle, a fact not aided by this week's news that L.T. Walker was banged up in practice.
Cause for optimism: Guys like Dexter Heyman, James Bryant and Chris Campa certainly pass the look test, and the few reports coming out of practice have suggested that the unit as a whole has been making progress.
Cause for concern: None of us have ever seen any of these guys play in a real game.
Cause for optimism: Just about everyone outside of Rod Council and Jonathan Russell is back.
Having Latarrius Thomas, a starter on the Orange Bowl squad, healthy and back at safety is a huge boon. Bobby Buchanan looked much better after he made the switch from corner to safety midway through last year. Johnny Patrick looked a step above every other corner on the team during the three open practices, and Woodny Turenne has reportedly been a defensive standout during the closed scrimmages.
This is also the segment of the defense with the most depth, as a hoard of injuries over the last couple of seasons have forced a lot of different guys to see significant playing time.
Cause for concern: With the exception of Thomas, the guys who will be on the field Sunday will be the same ones who were on the field last year. And even Thomas was to blame for several of the blown assignments in the Middle Tennessee State debacle.
Actions, not words, verify improvement.
Cause for optimism: Arthur Carmody didn't have any issues starting as a true freshman, Corey Goettsche is a veteran, and the trio of Beaumont, Anderson and Powell should be enough to make you stand up for each and every return opportunity.
Cause for concern: You can never know what to expect from true freshman kickers, and chances are slim that Chris Philpott can be Art Carmody. Goettsche shanked more than one punt last season. And Anderson and Beaumont have never fielded a kick or a punt in a game. We also had a small issue with special teams penalties last year which may or may not have been cleaned up.
I hope that cleared a lot of things up for you.