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The Cardinal Countdown: 44 Days Until Kickoff

Syracuse v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

#44 Tobias Little

Class: RS Sophomore

Ht/Wt: 6-0/248

Position: Fullback

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Twitter: @TobiasLittle4

Thoughts: I love fullbacks. I think they represent power football in my mind, and even though Bobby P can stack up the points he ain’t exactly pushing the “3 yards and cloud of dust” mantra into his offensive package. While I would never trade the Lamar years for anything the one downside with him at QB, on a personal level, was that the advantages of playing a fullback with any type of consistency is somewhat lost due to his speed and his impact on the ground game. The running game from a backs perspective was limited last year and it only made sense that when you needed an extra blocker on the field you have it be your tight end who’s a much bigger threat in the passing game than your fullback who is rarely an option downfield.

While Tobias can certainly be a benefit no matter who is calling the plays in my mind he fits better in a system where the Cards use a more traditional running game, something most of us anticipate seeing more of in 2018. Setting up as a lead blocker for Dae, Colin, or Trey is more of what I want to see from Tobias, but that’s not to say he can’t carry a ball or three this year as well. We saw last season when given the chance he wasn’t hesitant, and he was actually the leading rusher for the red quad back in the Spring Game. What says “fullback” more than a sloppy game in PJCS, hand off up the middle, met at line of scrimmage, push the kid another 5 yards, get the first down, end the game….

If one of the tradeoffs to losing Lamar is more fullback play I guess I’ll take it, not that I have a choice of course. I’m looking forward to seeing the backs get a chance to show out this year and help balance the offense for Puma as he takes over the reins. Hell, we got Justify on the squad now so that should help some, but hopefully Tobias is also part of that success.

Sweet Tweet:

Petrino got my man bored to death over here….








#44 Jakson Wine

Class: RS Freshman

Ht/Wt: 6-0/219

Position: Kicker

Hometown: Louisville, KY (North Oldham)

Twitter: @j_wine21

Thoughts: Jakson came to the Cards as a preferred walk-on back in 2016 from North Oldham High, not only splitting time at kicker and wide receiver on the field but also splitting time between sports playing both football and basketball for the Mustangs. During Wine’s recruitment Jakson had narrowed down his choices to UofL, Illiniois, and WKU. Even though all three schools already had a scholarship kicker on the roster Jakson was looking to come in and compete for a spot immediately, and the opportunity at Louisville was too good to pass on. Of course, Illinois and WKU might have been at a slight disadvantage considering that Jakson has been a Card’s fan pretty much his whole life, something that comes with the territory when you’re mom is a cheerleading alum and your dad just so happens to be Robby Wine, a Cardinal basketball alum from the mid-90s.

Jakson will continue to battle with the other kickers during the fall, and although it may take an act of God to unseat Creque at place kicker Wine and the other kickers know they may be competing for some other opportunities as the season gets closer. No one has hinted at it on the staff but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Petrino give some other guys kickoff reps this year, giving Creque a break from those duties on occasion, and Wine has a HUGE leg to try and show off. Prokicker, one of the nation’s top instructional camps for special teams players, had Wine ranked #1 in the nation as a kick-off specialist and a top 5 placekicker back in 2016. Now that Wine has burned his redshirt I’d love to see him bomb some footballs into the Crunchzone a few times this season or right into the hands of those fans in the new field level suites. You know what they call those…..touchbacks. That was actually a serious question, as most Cards fans see those about as often as winning lotto numbers.

(prepare for CardinalStrong conspiracy tangent)

Petrino, for one reason or another, seems to like the kicker dropping the ball at the 5-10 yard line on kickoffs instead of producing touchbacks. I still don’t get it but there is enough proof now to show that this has to be a decision by the staff and not a short coming of the kicker doing the kickoff. It has carried over from one player to another and from year to year since his return. I’m sure the super secret answer is that over the course of 37 years and 29 different studies it was determined that kicking the ball to the return man at the 5 yard line produces a starting field position 1.3 yards less than touchback or some other nonsense but to me avoiding the hits/contact on a return is well worth the trade off if you have the leg power to do it. Am I going insane (maybe) but the numbers are hard to argue. In 2017 Louisville finished 112th in the country in touchback percentage (25.27%), in 2016 they finished 126th (10.58%), in 2015 they finished 62nd (38.67%), in 2014 they finished 49th (39.24%). The Cards were barely cracking the national average for two seasons and scraping the bottom of the barrel the other two. Maybe its because they score so much? Too many kickoffs pulls down the average. NOPE. Cards kicked the ball off 91 times last year, good enough to be 16th in the country. You know what the touckback % of the 15 teams above them was on average…45%. The Cards were a full 20% behind the teams who actually kicked off more than they did. I did some digging and the Cards opponents starting field position last year , on average, was 67.5 yds from the endzone. That was ranked 13th in the ACC. Thirteenth! Maybe I’m wrong, maybe Petrino wants a touchback 100% of the time, but I’ve seen Creque warm up and I’ve seen Mason King warm up, and both can kick the football really really really far. Tough for me to see how that doesn’t translate when the lights come on. Now, If Jakson has the leg we’ve heard about this number should skyrocket in 2018, and if it doesn’t, it has to be because Petrino doesn’t want it too. (end tangent)

With all that tangent could become a moot point in 2018 as a new college football rule will allow teams to fair catch the football (inside the 25 yard line) on a kickoff which will ultimately result in a touchback allowing the team to start at the 25. So, does kicking it into the endzone still pay off. time will, I guess.

Sweet Tweet:

Cheer for the conference, they said….losses reflect poorly on you, they said….don’t’ care. UMBC for life.