2015 ACC Football Preview: Louisville Cardinals


2014 Record: 9-4 (5-3 ACC)

Returning Starters: Offense (5) Defense (4)

Key Players: DE Devonte Fields, LB Keith Kelsey, QB Reggie Bonnafon

After a successful first season back at Louisville, head coach Bobby Petrino has his work cut out for him heading into the 2015 season. He has question marks all over the roster, most notably at the quarterback position and on defense, where the Cardinals have lost seven starters off of their top five scoring defense from 2014.

At quarterback, Petrino has revealed to multiple news outlets within the last couple of weeks that sophomore Reggie Bonnafon would be the starter if the season began today, which is most likely attributed to his youth and ability as a dual threat weapon. Bonnafon threw for 864 yards and five touchdown passes in a rotating role last season. It could be more of the same this year if Bonnafon struggles early, as veteran Will Gardner will be waiting in the wings if he’s healthy, with Kyle Bolin and Tyler Ferguson factoring in as well. At running back, the Cards have lost Michael Dyer to graduation, so it is expected that Brandon Radcliff will be the replacement after impressing the coaching staff by averaging just shy of 100 yards in 2014’s final three games against Notre Dame, Kentucky, and Georgia. At receiver, the now depleted group will rely on former five-star recruit, junior James Quick, to turn things around. They will also hope that incoming transfers Ja’Quay Savage and Jamari Staples play up to their abilities in order to limit the regression from losing star wide receiver DeVante Parker to the NFL.

On defense, despite losing a good amount of starters, the unit looks to still be in decent shape. Former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Devonte Fields, joins the squad at defensive end, while a solid linebacking core led by Keith Kelsey should once again be able to make game changing plays for the Louisville defense. In the secondary, the Cards still have starting safety Josh Harvey-Clemons to lead a group of talented youngsters. While the Cardinals may not be quite as good as they were last year on defense, I’d expect less of a drop off than most are predicting, due to the strength of the team’s front seven.

I discuss this, and more with Mark Rogers in another exclusive podcast below. Give it a listen!

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