As the 2012 preseason college football publications begin to hit the shelves, the on-line sites are also jumping in with their predictions and previews. We posted the Lindy’s preview earlier, and now SB Nation has taken their crack at the Cards. They predict somewhere around 8 or 9 wins and believe that Louisville can and should compete for a title in the watered-down Big East. Also included: lots of Teddy hype, love for an incredibly talented sophomore class, who the team will miss the most from last year, Shawn Watson’s comfort with the new offense, and Charlie Strong’s emerging defense. Here’s a quick excerpt and you can read the entire piece here.
The word for 2012: continuity. Bridgewater will find himself flanked by four interesting running backs, three intriguing returning wideouts (all sophomores), and six offensive linemen with starting experience (74 career starts), and he will be taking instruction from an offensive coordinator, Watson, who has now fully installed his own system. Expect more run-friendly sets, which could benefit the Cardinals in terms of both avoiding sacks and distributing the ball to the aforementioned four backs: juniors Dominique Brown, Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry, and redshirt freshman Corvin Lamb. Advanced stats favor Perry in this race, ever so slightly, but all four should get touches.
When Bridgewater does throw, he’ll have his pick of three exciting sophomores. Eli Rogers led the team in targets (58), receptions (41) and yards (454) last year; after a relatively slow start, he came on strong, catching 35 passes for 406 yards in his final nine contests.
As interesting as it is to look at what Louisville’s offense could become this season, it is impossible to ignore the fact that, of the Cardinals’ projected 2012 starters, nine are projected to return in 2013, seven in 2014. Rarely does a youth movement take hold as firmly as Louisville’s did in 2011, and they could reap the benefits for years to come.
With the early hype — the type of “they’re young and exciting sleepers!” hype that tends to grow as a season approaches — it might feel like anything less than a conference title will be disappointing. Road trips to Pittsburgh and Rutgers could be quite tricky, however, and with a non-conference slate that includes a visit from North Carolina and visits TO Florida International and Southern Miss, improvement of any kind in the win column would be at least semi-impressive. We’ll set the overall bar, then, at eight wins. And let’s face it — you can win the Big East with eight wins.