Can Heisman Winner Lamar Jackson Contend for National Title?
The Louisville Cardinals (9-4) tied for first in the ACC Atlantic Division, posting a 7-1 conference record. Although they ended the season tied with Clemson, the Tigers won the division due to the fact that they beat the Cardinals 42-36 during the regular season. Our 2017 Louisville Cardinals college football preview sees this team as once again being competitive, but finishing third in the division.
Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson leads the Cardinals. Now a junior, the quarterback is poised for another standout season. Jackson not only led the team in passing last season, throwing for 3,500-plus-yards and tossing 30 TD passes and just nine picks, but he also was the team’s top ground gainer. Jackson carried the ball a total of 260 times for 1,571 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns while averaging 6.0 YPA.
Despite losing their second-best RB and three top receivers, this team is ready to attack, as freshman RB Colin Wilson takes the field and senior WR Jaylen Smith, who caught six TD passes last year, looks ready to break out. The offensive line could be better, and they may hamper this team’s ability to produce points.
The Louisville defense, which sees seven starters return including four of the team’s six top tacklers, was ranked 12th in the nation versus the rush. They allowed just 23.8 PPG, while the Cardinals offense scored 42.5 PPG. The defense is loaded with seniors and peppered with sophomores. New coordinator Peter Simon will be breaking in quite a few new starters on the front seven, but he’s got a lot of talent with which to work.
LB Stacy Thomas, who is the leading returning tackler (85), is the anchor of the D. Thomas notched 6.5 TFL and had three PBU. CB Jaire Alexander, now a junior, had a fine sophomore season, breaking up nine passes and hauling in five picks. Senior Trumaine Washington is at the other corner. He posted two interceptions and six passes broken up.
The Cardinals have a good group of special teams that includes Alexander on punt returns and Malik Williams and Seth Dawkins on kick bring backs. Alexander averaged 10.5 YPR and brought back one for a TD. Both Williams and Dawkins averaged around 22 YPR on kicks. Blanton Creque went 39 or 40 on extra points and hit 16 of 19 field goals. He was 15 of 16 from 39 yards or less. Punter Mason King is dependable, netting 40.2 YPP and putting 16 of 55 within the 20-yard line.
2017 Louisville Cardinals College Football Preview: Final Word
Head coach Bobby Petring (109-43 Overall, 5-5 Bowls) must guide a team that does not have the stellar playmakers it came to depend upon over the past few years. Still, our 2017 Louisville Cardinals college football preview finds that the Cardinals are solid. During their last five seasons, Louisville has always put up winning records going 49-16 during that time. We think they’ll have another winning season in 2017.
Louisville has a major contest on Sep 16 when the Clemson Tigers visit. A win in this game will help establish the Cardinals position within the division. Louisville is away on Oct 21 playing the Florida State Seminoles. A win against the Seminoles could put the Cardinals in first place in the ACC Atlantic.
Top Three Takeaways
Lamar Jackson is the key on offense
Questions concerning O-line and WRs
D-line strength is unknown
2017 Louisville Cardinals College Football Preview Projection: Record:10-2 Overall/7-2 ACC; Finish: 3rd ACC Atlantic Division