Steve Kragthorpe is in his first season as the Cardinals head coach. He is replacing Bobby Petrino who left the Louisville program to become the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Kragthorpe came to Louisville from Tulsa where he guided the Golden Hurricane program to a 29-22 record in his four seasons at Tulsa.
In 2006 the Louisville Cardinals went 12-1, including a win over Wake Forest in the FedEx Orange Bowl. Louisville leads the series 1-0.
Oh what a difference one half of a football game can make. The Cardinals ended the season asking "What if?". In a late season game against Big East foe Rutgers, Louisville appeared to have total control of the game in the first half as they built a 25-7 lead. They saw this lead disappear as Jeremy Ito hit a 28 yard field goal with :13 left in the game to lift Rutgers over the Cardinals 28-25. If not for this loss the Cardinals would have possibly been talking National Championship. Instead they ended the season with one loss and a ranking of 6th or 7th, depending on the poll.
Louisville has been picked to finish 2nd in the Big East Conference by the Big East coaches. They are picked right behind West Virginia.
Louisville has Murray State, Middle Tennessee, North Carolina State, and in-state rival Kentucky on their out-of-conference schedule. They do have to travel to Cincinnati and West Virginia, but they get Rutgers at home.
Quarterback Brian Brohm is back. After suffering an injury to his thumb in the game against Miami, Brohm was sideline for a couple of games, including the game against Middle Tennessee. Then there was some speculation that with the departure of head coach Bobby Petrino that Brohm would bolt for the NFL. After all that speculation, the Cardinal faithful is relieved that Brohm will be back on the field for Louisville.
Art Carmody will be back as well. Who is this guy? Oh, just the best place kicker in the country. He was the 2006 winner of the Lou Groza award.
The wide receiver position should be very good and may be the best overall unit in the nation. The Cardinals return All-Big East selection Harry Douglas. They also will have the services of Mario Urrutia, a name Blue Raider fans know all too well. Urrutia caught 4 passes for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Blue Raiders last year.
Louisville does have a few question marks. First of all, how will the players respond to a new coach? All indications seem to point to a very smooth transition, but one never knows until they are in a game atmosphere.
The offensive line returns two All-Big East performers in Eric Wood and George Bussey. They also have experienced Daniel Barlowe returning. There are some concerns at the other two spots on the offensive line.
The secondary has to replace 3 starters from last year and it may be the biggest question mark for Coach Kragthorpe.
Don't tell the Cardinals that they are not picked to win their conference. Not only are they looking to win the conference they are planning on contending for a national championship. There are some questions to be answered, but if Coach Kragthorpe can find the right answers the Cardinals have the talent to be mention amongst the national championship contenders.