14 Louisville - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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14 Louisville

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

That guy [6'3", 211-pound junior quarterback] Lamar Jackson (left) is a stud. I like him better than I liked [Clemson's] Deshaun Watson last year. Jackson has a stronger arm. He's not as steady a guy as Watson was, but it's not even close athletically. Watson could get 20 yards on a run; with Jackson, he's gone. You can have him penned in, and he'll make three guys miss, outrun your whole defense and pick up the first down. He needs to run well because their O-line is below average.

Their tight ends [junior Micky Crum and senior Charles Standberry] are good players, and their receivers [junior Jaylen Smith and sophomore Seth Dawkins] are adequate. They look the part but drop a lot of balls. [Coach Bobby] Petrino calls the plays and he's good, but when adversity hits, he hurts that team. He'll add to the problem because he'll scream at the kids, and their heads will go down.

They were the best defense we faced last year. Very talented. Very aggressive. Sometimes overly aggressive. Last year we tried to throw a lot to the perimeter to get it out of our quarterback's hands in a hurry. Their DBs are big-time athletes. That's the one thing that jumps out at you with this defense. JAIRE ALEXANDER [a 5'11", 192-pound junior cornerback] is a great cover guy with great feet. He's the best corner we saw last year.

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % (60TH)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT (15TH)

COMPLETION % (85TH)

YARDS PER CARRY (4TH)

SACKS ALLOWED (126TH)

TURNOVERS LOST (124TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE (15TH)

YARDS PER PLAY (4TH)

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % ALLOWED (10TH)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT ALLOWED (19TH)

COMPLETION % ALLOWED (25TH)

YARDS PER CARRY ALLOWED (6TH)

SACKS (40TH)

TURNOVERS GAINED (24TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE ALLOWED (15TH)

YARDS PER PLAY ALLOWED (8TH)

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RATING

47

Nonconference games against Purdue (9/2) and at Kentucky (11/25) should be easy, but the ACC Atlantic will be tough. The Cardinals host Clemson (9/16) and go to Florida State (10/21). If they split those and still win the division, the conference championship could be a playoff play-in.

THE PLAYER TO KNOW

Senior REGGIE BONNAFON has been an all-purpose player for Louisville's offense during his career, and he'll spend his fourth season as the team's No. 1 running back. He began as a quarterback in 2014, then played (mostly) running back in '15 before moving to wide receiver in '16. During his last stint in the backfield he was fifth on the team in rushing with 175 yards, but this time around he'll be the lead back. Though quarterback Lamar Jackson, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, led the Cards in rushing last year (1,571 yards), watch out for Bonnafon, who at 6'3" and 212 pounds will be a fast, physical presence in the ground game.