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The Wynnedbag: Week One

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 06 Clemson at Louisville Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It is once again time for me to wax poetic on the Louisville football program. If you are new to the site, each week I will answer a handful of questions for the Wynnedbag and I will do my best to be as forthcoming as possible.

If you would like to submit a question, feel free to tweet me @keith_wynne, send a message to the Card Chronicle Facebook group, or email me at

Let’s get to it.

This is something I’ve been thinking about since the spring and I’m honestly surprised all four guys stuck around. My expectation is that only two of these guys are here when spring practice starts and my guess is that one of them leaves during the season. UofL will have plenty of carries to go around for the group but my theory is that one guy will stand out above the rest and will end up getting the majority of the snaps.

At that point, I think whoever is at the bottom of the list will decide to hit the portal. Running backs don’t want to put too many miles on themselves so this could go either way. Maybe it leads to guys leaving midseason or maybe they like having fewer carries throughout the season so they don’t wear down. I think the key is how effective they are. The only way I see everyone sticking around is if they are all having success which is going to be hard to do.

I’m taking the over. UofL was the first team that completely shut down the Orange offense last year and NC State was the only other team to contain it. I’ve watched plenty of their games from last year and I still can’t figure out why it all fell apart against the Cards. Louisville did a great job of slowing down Sean Tucker while also stopping Shrader from getting loose on designed runs. While it was impressive, I just have a hard time seeing them repeating it.

Cuse brought in Virginia’s offensive system that is built on throwing the football all over the place and spreading teams out. That worries me because as good as UVA was at slinging the ball around, they were terrible when it came to running the ball. I don’t think that will be a problem with Sean Tucker and this offensive line that blocked so well for him last season.

If Syracuse can create even a semblance of a passing game, it will be hard to contain Tucker. It’s definitely possible with UofL’s defensive additions but I don’t know that I would personally predict them to contain this offense like they did last year.

So I’m just not doing a prediction this year. I’m supposed to do it because that’s just what people like me are supposed to do. But I’m at a place with this football program where I don’t have a clue what will happen from year-to-year. On paper, this is one of the toughest schedules Louisville has ever faced and that makes it nearly impossible to predict what will happen. So, I’ll just say that they could or should win between five and eight games and leave it at that.

As for the idea that Louisville could or should win at least nine games? As the schedule reads right now, that would be at least one of the best seasons in the history of the program. Louisville has five ranked teams on the schedule and winning two of them would be something that no team has done in over a decade. The Cards are 1-24 against ranked (at the end of the season) teams since joining the ACC. So, based on historical data, it’s not likely at all for Louisville to win 9 games this year. Things will change as the season goes on but if the back half of the schedule remains as tough as it is on paper right now, UofL will have a tough time winning those games.

This isn’t the sexy answer but Michael Gonzalez has the potential to be a star here and I think that starts this season. While the starters return on the offensive line and they are all good players, I expect Gonzalez to take someone’s spot during the year. Trevor Reid had some struggles last season so he is the most likely option to be replaced. Gonzalez also spent the spring playing some guard so I wouldn’t be shocked to see him push Adonis Boone as well.

On defense, I think we will see Kam Wilson have an impact as Yasir Abdullah’s backup as well as a situational pass rusher. UofL needs to get after the quarterback this year and getting more guys on the field that can rush the passer will be key. Wilson has had some struggles with staying healthy but he appears to be healthy now and he definitely looks the part from a physical standpoint. Look for him to be on the field more this year.

As I’ve said throughout this summer, Louisville’s defense “should” be better this year. I’m just not going to say it “will” be. I expected a step forward last season and their lack of consistency ended up killing them. I think there were some schematic issues last season but not to the point that I would say it was the problem with the defense. Talent, depth, and versatility were what this defense was lacking and they should be better in all of those areas this season.

The way we will know if the defense, and the team as a whole, are better is if the defensive line can be productive and effective. From a productivity standpoint, they need more tackles for loss from this group. I don’t even think they need to pile up a bunch of sacks from the defensive linemen. If they can stop the run and create negative plays, they will force more third and long situations where other players can get after the quarterback. With the additions in the secondary, they should also be much better in coverage.

When it comes to these guys being effective, they have to be disruptive to the offensive blocking scheme which will help the linebackers make plays. It’s all about stopping the run and putting yourself at an advantage. Louisville did that at times last year and the defense was fine. They contained UCF’s passing game, forced NC State punt on six straight drives including five three-and-outs, and they completely shut down Syracuse’s offense.

All of those games featured a defense that got the opposition into third downs and then got off the field. UCF was all about dropping 8 into coverage and forcing check downs. Syracuse was non-stop pressure. They even put up 5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss against UVA.

Can they be consistent and play at their best for full games? That’s the big question and as much as they’ve helped the secondary and as important as it is to have Monty Montgomery back, it’s all about the line. Depth is a concern with Mark Ivey saying he only feels good about six guys. Effectiveness is a question with nose tackle still being unproven. Then you have production where Yaya Diaby didn’t do much last season and Ashton Gillotte fell off as the season progressed. These guys have to take a big step forward this year.