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Louisville football: thoughts on the football season at the halfway point, Part II

The Card Chronicle football crew sat down and each gave our thoughts on the first half of the football season for the Cardinals and as well as a look forward.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Here's Part II of the midseason roundtable with  Mike Rutherford, Cardsfan922, GoCardsGuy, and me. You can read Part I, here.

5. Is Teddy still a Heisman candidate?

CC: I think he is in the same regard that Louisville is still a national championship contender; No matter how much of a longshot it might be, it's still possible, and by definition that makes him (and U of L) a candidate. That said, I think he'd be much more of a realistic threat to win the award had he performed better on ESPN against UK and Rutgers. He still has a solid shot to at least make it to New York, but that's a recipe that demands both a stellar performance on Friday and six more wins to end the regular season.

And I think making it to New York should be the goal at this point. Given the schedule, it would be a tremendous accomplishment for him, and it would also be a huge night for the entire program. 

922: Yes, the Heisman these days seems to be awarded based on the last half of the season anyway, and his numbers have been so good that even though the Rutgers game was somehow a bad game, he's still in the discussion.  I think if the ceremony were held today he would not win, but he'd be invited.  

GCG: I think so. I don't think he deserves to win it over the two guys leading the race at this time. Marcus Mariota and Johnny Football are having amazing seasons and both have "big game" opportunities to show why they are the best player in the country. Teddy won't be able to showcase what he can do against top competition until the bowl game and it will be too late. Its no one's fault and it sorta sucks. We all know that. What I think is more important is that Teddy is doing what he set out to do. He wants to win. He wants to be the top player in the draft next year. He has control over both of those things and he's taking care of business.

ME: I think he's still a Heisman candidate, and I think he'll still get invited to New York as a finalist, but I think that he just won't have enough "big" games where he was the difference against a respected opponent to give him the award. We knew this season would be like this and him being in New York will be a tremendous honor for him and for the school, but I think it will probably take a miracle for him to win the thing.

6. What second half game scares you the most?

CC: There's no question that UCF is the best team left on Louisville's schedule, so that's my answer.

That said, I'm not going to lie and say that I'm not still a tiny bit worried about South Florida, and not just because it's the game where I predicted the Cards to stumble before the season. The biggest reason is that Louisville never plays well in Tampa, but there's also the fact that there are good players on that USF team. Clearly there's been some disconnect between the new coaching staff and the squad it inherited, but they've at least shown some signs of life in winning their first two league games. They're also off this weekend, which means they'll still have that "we control our own destiny" mindset when U of L rolls into town. 

But again, Central Florida is far and away the most dangerous opponent left on the schedule. 

922: UCF is the best team left and is a defacto BCS play-in game because the winner will likely have to lose twice in conference to get passed by the loser, and neither team is likely to lose twice if they win Friday.  The rest of the schedule is definitely easy, but USF and UConn have always played us close, and the Cinci game as "late season college football 2007-like Mayhem" written all over it.  

So I'd say Friday worries me the most because of the stakes and the amount of talent we are facing.  But every game worries me because college football. (ed: yes, that's how I meant to end that sentence). 

GCG: Houston. They spread the hell out of everyone and they have a legit freshman quarterback. We all know how the defense has struggled against the spread in the past. Has the defense really gotten better? We will learn in that game if you ask me. UCF is the best team on the schedule, but Houston scares me more.

ME: I'm going to say Cincinnati. Tommy Tuberville is just a wizard against highly ranked teams, that stadium will be out for blood against a rival that they will surely feel is leaving them for dead in the AAC. Cincinnati has some really good defensive personnel and they've got probably the best offensive line Louisville will face. I just want to get out of there with a win.

7. What player that hasn't done a lot in the first half of the season do you expect to blow up in the second half?

CC: I'm tempted to say one of the running backs, but I think they're all so good that it's going to be nearly impossible for one of them to breakout and become a bon-a-fide star. I'll go with Terrell Floyd, just because I already he think he's been really good without anyone noticing so far this year. No one has rode the momentum of that Florida game more than he has, and I think he's been the unsung hero of that stellar defense so far.

922: I think everyone is contributing right now and we just don't have an offense that will give any one player an opportunity to do remarkably better. Quick seems he could have a breakout game because of the talent/production gap, but, again, unless we throttle up on the pass/run ratio (which doesn't seem likely) how can he get enough targets in enough games to blow up?  I guess any of the running backs could get hot and start getting more carries, but all have performed well so I don't know if they fit the premise of not having done a lot. 

Other than Quick, I'm having a hard time coming up with someone who hasn't done a lot in the first half.  It's good that there's no easy answer to this question. Eli Rogers maybe?  Andrew Johnson?  Gerod Holliman?  On defense Lorenzo Mauldin, Marcus Smith and Calvin Pryor deserve and could get more national attention, but they've all done a ton in the first half and just haven't gotten the attention they deserve.  Really the entire defense has gone unnoticed which is weird. 

GCG: Senorise Perry. I think he will have one "breakout" game and he will start to see more and more carries late in the season. All three backs are capable and you could probably insert either of them here but Perry has broken a few big ones now and he looks hungry. UCF could be that game because they're a small defense. Any way it goes, he's going to break a big run in the first half against someone and Charlie will want to stick with him.

ME: I'm going to say James Quick. I think if he starts getting the reps that De La Cruz was getting, he'll never let them go. When Parker is back full speed and commanding 1.5-2 defenders' attention, then I think Quick will make the most of being out of the field and show what made him a five-star recruit out of high school.

8. Will Louisville run the table and if they do, where do they end up?

CC: I think they do, and I think they head to the Orange Bowl ranked No. 5.

922: Mike has publicly and casually alluded to me ending a Louisville football player's career for joking on twitter about a nickname for my then-unborn  son, so anything I say here will no doubt cause fear and loathing across the Chronmunity.  Accordingly, I choose not to entertain this question.

GCG: I don't see Louisville losing this season. Against anyone. I think they go 12-0 and they end up playing a LSU-level team in the BCS. I personally think the only teams that I wouldn't see us beating are Oregon, FSU, and Bama. I don't think we will end up being matched up against any of them (Bama-FSU championship is my prediction). This team wants it all. The offense hasn't been stopped and I really do believe that our defense is elite. The numbers back it up. There's no reason for me to think that they won't go undefeated and end up as a top-4 team at the end of the year.

ME: I just can't see Louisville losing a game. I think there will be tests in Central Florida, Cincinnati, and perhaps Houston, but I just can't see Louisville dropping a game. Unlike last year where sometimes you felt like the concentration waned, this Louisville team is showing maturity and the defense is playing at a level we've never seen around here. That will keep them from letting a game get away. I think an undefeated season sends them to the Sugar Bowl again and they'll finish this regular season at #4 in the polls.