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The Cardinal Countdown: 14 Days Until Kickoff

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

#14 Drew Bailey

Class: Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-5/285

Position: Defensive End

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Twitter: @Drew_Foreal

Thoughts: If you’re looking for Bailey to step into the void created by Rankins departure and not experience any sort of drop off your expectations may be a tad unrealistic…but they may not be as crazy as many would have you believe. While Petrino, Grantham, LD Scott, your friends, your neighbor, your grandmother, and your grandmother’s neighbor all tell you that Rankins cannot be replaced on the field by one man, I’ll take my changes with what I’ve seen from Bailey up to this point. Last season when Rankins needed a breather or the situation called for Bailey…he performed admirably in the limited action he saw. We have to remember that Drew was a Sophomore, getting his first D-I reps against the likes of Auburn and Clemson just a few weeks in. Trial by fire for sure. Yet in his first five games, with limited action, he recorded at least one tackle every single week and it seemed like the coaches understood what they had…a bull in a china shop.

When Drew was recruited by Louisville the plan was to utilize him in a three point stance almost exclusively and use his size and strength to rush the passer. One reason for that approach was simply, that was what he was good at doing. In JUCO and High School he racked up sack statistics that would make the teenage bagger at Kroger blush. He could use his power to overwhelm the offensive line and get to the QB nearly at will. The second reason for this approach was…that’s pretty much all he could do. Bailey himself said last season that working with Rankins was a big help in regards to his knowledge of the game and how to react to various scenarios on the field. Watching film and getting that ‘Football 201’ lesson from Rankins has allowed Bailey to expand his repertoire and the coaches are “bullish” on how the old bull will now play smarter and faster, without losing the ability to overpower people when he needs to. I pointed this out last year but it’s a HUGE deal when you grab a JUCO talent like Bailey who has three years of eligibility instead of the more standard two. Grooming him last season, getting him live reps, and letting him learn under a first round draft pick has allowed Louisville to put Drew in a scenario where he can succeed in 2016…and still have a whole season left (2017) to become even better.

While I started this post off with the stereotypical “replacing Rankins” narrative that we’ve heard over, and over, and over…and over again this offseason I absolutely loved how Drew handled this interview from a few days ago. He addressed the things he knew, avoided the things he didn’t, was very respectful, and maintained focus on the season ahead. If his composure and maturity in that five minute clip are any indication as to his new approach on the field I think we can expect big things from Drew this year in his new starting role.

(Thanks to ‘TheCrunchZone’ for the video)

Sweet Tweet:

I don’t know what game this is…but I’d like to play it. And technically it wasn’t “1999” it was “the 9-9”.

Check your facts Milton-Bradley.



#14 Kyle Bolin

Class: Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-2/210

Position: Quarterback

Hometown: Lexington, KY

Twitter: N/A

Thoughts: Bolin has been on a hell of a ride as a Louisville Cardinal…and his eligibility is only half way complete. Let’s recap…After battling through an ACL issue in High School (and the threatening messages from his hometown Big Blue fans) Bolin arrived on campus behind some quarterback named Teddy. He took a redshirt. (Solid decision). As a redshirt Freshman Bolin once again battled through some nagging knee injuries and fought to try and earn the backup spot to Gardner. He lost out to Reggie. Maintaining focus Bolin kept improving, and kept learning. He got a few snaps against Murray State and Florida International late in the game but was thrown into a bees nest in Week 13 against his hometown Wildcats, and dude looked like a star. Bolin finished the game 21/31 with 381 yards and 3 touchdowns. Did we have the QB of the future? Was this the answer to our question about stability at the position? Bolin got his first start a month later against Georgia…and after the game, even though he didn’t perform horribly, one could say the QB competition in 2015 was still “open”. Jump to Game 1, Reggie earned the starting role, then appeared to lose it to Lamar, then Lamar lost it to Kyle who kept it through Clemson, but after an 0-3 start we “cut bait” and decided to ride “Lamarvelous” once and for all...until we didn’t...and Kyle earned his starting role back against Syracuse, and kept it through Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Kentucky…and then lost it again to Lamar. Everything following along, still?  

Bolin’s journey, along with the three other quarterbacks of the last two seasons, has had a multitude of ups and downs, and if Bolin had feelings of resentment or frustration…who in the heck could blame him? Many assumed that Bolin would probably look around after the 2015 season concluded since he certainly had the skills to compete at a D-I level, and would have a tough time beating out Lamar in 2016. Lots of other D-I coaches were hoping the same thing, after all, Bolin just finished a season were he threw for over 1,100 yards and had 7 touchdowns in only seven games, and a 56.9 completion percentage. Thankfully, he bucked the transfer trend and decided he wanted to remain a Card. Bolin knew he wanted to be a part of what Louisville was doing, and if the last 2-3 seasons were any indication, he knew a “second string” QB is always only one play away from quickly becoming the man. Ask Nick Petrino, ask Bobby Petrino, hell, even ask Lamar just how important having Bolin on this team is. All three, and numerous other offensive players have credited Bolin with providing leadership, accountability, and more importantly, pushing Lamar to be that much better. In fact, Bolin is viewed by his teammates as such a large piece of the program that when they recently voted for team captains Bolin received a significant amount of votes. Yes, the backup Junior quarterback was getting votes for team captain.

In a recent article by Jeff Greer over at the C-J, Bolin had a quote which basically personifies what makes the young man tick…

"I'd rather be a help to the team than be a cancer," Bolin said. "I could go around and pout and say, 'I was the quarterback last year. Blah, blah, blah.' But that's not the type of person I am. I was raised differently. I understand my role. I understand what's expected of me."

This is where you typically see the “I wish we had a team full of Kyle Bolin’s” type statement, and while that may be accurate I’ll go a little further than that. Of course I love the mentality, of course I love the selflessness, but the number one reason on my “I’m glad to have Bolin back” checklist is that the kid can play. Let us not forget that Bolin not only kept that UK win streak alive back in 2014, but notched two ACC wins last season and was a missed field goal away from taking the National Runner-Up, Clemson, into overtime. I love what we have in Lamar, but knowing that Bolin is the next man up makes me feel that much better heading into the year.

Sweet Tweet: Today marks two weeks until we get this thing started, and what that means to all you future Jay Cardosi’s Kevin Harned’s Marc Weinberg’s John Belski’s out there is that most weather related websites now have a real, live, weather forecast for September 1st. After scanning a few places it appears the consensus right now is around 81 and Sunny, although a few places predict a shower or two…because Lamar will be raining footballs on that poor Charlotte secondary. That’s right random Charlotte blog that doesn’t exist…the smack talk is officially on. Bring it. Your boys are about to get '49er'..better make it 50, dropped in their lap in a mere 14 days. Better hope long distance calls are free on your cell plan boy because lots of kids will be calling their mom after the game talking bout “I don’t want to play football no more”. You’ve had it too easy this offseason Charlotte. Time to take it up a notch on you fools…

Unless of course you all are a nice and respectable group of people...then I wish you best and hope the better team comes out on top that day. Sorry, I cave easy.