2017 Louisville Football Projections via the Drive’s Hour Glass

Louisville head football coach Bobby Petrino. Photo courtesy of 247sports.com

Bobby Petrino’s Louisville Cardinals were a late-season meltdown away from making the conversation of the college football playoffs more interesting in 2016, and drawing serious attention to the question of can two teams from the same conference can join the college postseason championship tournament.

The Cardinals had one of their best starting groups of players in school history last year, but will find themselves without a number of weapons that helped them start 9-1 last season. Some of those loses include their primary running back, Brandon Radcliff and three of the Cardinal’s top receivers.

Senior running back, Jeremy Smith holds the edge in taking over as the number one runner back for the team after scoring eight touchdowns last season, despite limited playing time.

The Cardinals will also have three juniors, Devante Peet, Jaylen Smith and Traveon Samuel, to fill in for those open spots at receiver, along with senior, Malik Williams, who has the most stats for a returning receiver but still only collected 145 receiving yards with one touchdown last season.

While having to replace all of the skills players on one side of the ball and a returning offensive line that allowed an ACC-worst 47 sacks last year, Cardinals fans have every right to not be confident in a repeat year of explosive offense.

However, Petrino still has one advantage over every team in the nation that could help almost any offense flourish.

The 2016 heisman winning quarterback, Lamar Jackson will return for his junior season with Cardinals after stockpiling over 5,000 total yards, along with 51 total touchdowns in his sophomore season.

Jackson is rated our sixth best quarterback on our analytics board with a quarterback stamp of 30.1, which is considered elite. The 2017 average quarterback ranking is 10.6.

Jackson is a large reason the Cardinal’s offense was ranked #3 in yards per game and #6 points per game in the FBS in 2016, and as long as he is protected, his offense still belongs in a dangerous category.

The Cardinals will hope to help Jackson with another successful defensive year under new defensive coordinator, Peter Sirmon.

Sirmon’s front seven will be led by seniors defensive lineman, Drew Bailey and the linebacker and defensive end dual threat, James Hearns, who both totaled together 10 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss in their junior season.

Hearns and fellow linebacker, Henry Famurewa will be returning from the injuries of gunshot wounds from an off-campus party before their bowl game last year.

Even though the Cardinal’s secondary comes into the season as the strongest part of their defense, Sirmon needs to find a way to limit the passing touchdowns they allow after giving up 29 of them last season, which ranked worst in the ACC.

The secondary will be led by junior cornerback, Jaire Alexander, who was the team leader last year with four interceptions. Alexander, along with dynamic punt returning capability, also possesses next level coverage ability, and because of that will most likely be asked upon to man-up on every opposing team’s top receiver this year.

Petrino’s Cardinals have a great opportunity to take the ACC this year. The key games that their success depends on will be a matchup with a Deshaun Watson-less Clemson Tigers in their third week, and a road game in the eighth week against a championship contender, FSU Seminoles.

Also remember Petrino is a high end coach – ranked the 15th best coach in college football in 2017 via our analytics. Petrino has a coaches three year analytics tag of 12; the average for this year is five.

They will also visit the Kentucky Wildcats with the last game of the regular season with revenge on their mind after being upset during their late season catastrophe last year.

Projected win – loss record for the Louisville Cardinals (10-2) {Regular Season}.

Team 3+Recruiting      3+Coaching Quarterback   Hour Glass Stamp
Louisville               74                  12             30.1       116.1


* Red denotes a game that could end up a one possession ball game or outcome turns out differently.

Date Opponent Result
2-Sep Purdue WIN
9-Sep @ North Carolina WIN
16-Sep Clemson LOSS
23-Sep Kent State WIN
30-Sep Murray State WIN
7-Oct @ NC State WIN
14-Oct Boston College WIN
21-Oct @ Florida State LOSS
28-Oct @ Wake Forest WIN
11-Nov Virginia WIN
18-Nov Syracuse WIN
25-Nov @ Kentucky WIN

Article contribution by Zach Saranthus

On Twitter @freeSaranthus



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