The preseason hype surrounding the 2013 Louisville football program has officially begun. Renowned college football writer Phil Steele released his 2013 preseason top 10 projections (Insider) in which the Cards are ranked 10th. He emphasizes these are not HIS rankings, only what he projects the AP will do. College Football News, on the other hand, released their own preseason poll based on their own beliefs and did Charlie Strong’s program one better, ranking the team 9th entering next season.
Let the hype begin for the defending Sugar Bowl champions, who’ll spend the offseason basking in the praise after thumping Florida in one of the shockers of the bowl season. Can the team start to dominate in regular season play like it did against the Gators? There were too many close calls against too many mediocre teams, but that could quickly change.
The defense has the potential to be dominant with ten starters returning, only losing corner Adrian Bushell. Linebacker Preston Brown should be a lock for all-star honors, while he end trio of Marcus Smith, Lorenzo Mauldin and Deiontrez Mount should be devastating at times.
Of course, the headliner will be Teddy Bridgewater, one of the nation’s most accurate and efficient passers who gets a full offseason to heal up after being beaten and battered late last year. The line is a slight concern with center Mario Benavides and left tackle Alex Kupper gone, but it’s a rising group with good talents to build around. The receiving corps should be the best in the Big East, while running back Jeremy Wright will be in for a good season to balance things out.
Alabama, Oregon, Florida, LSU, Texas A&M, Texas, Georgia and South Carolina are the teams ranked ahead of the Cards. Notable programs the Cards are ranked ahead of include Ohio State (10), Florida State (12) and defending national championship runner up Notre Dame (22). If the team lives up to the hype and continues the type of play displayed in the Sugar Bowl, Louisville should be fully capable of taking on and defeating multiple teams among those listed ahead of them. The only question is whether the team will be able to mentally handle all the praise that will be thrown their way. The Sugar Bowl is what most will remember about the 2012 season, but prior to that marquee victory, the team struggled mightily at times against mediocre competition, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. However, this team will be returning several key players a year older and a year more experienced, and with the additions of some key transfers and incoming freshmen, they will have plenty of ammo to back up all the talk. It is impossible to assume anything given the erratic nature of the previous year, but under the leadership of Charlie Strong and an experienced group of players led by Bridgewater, there should be very little doubt that the team is able to handle the hype and deliver.