Louisville Cardinals spring wrap

May, 11, 2011
5/11/11
9:30
AM ET
2010 overall record: 7-6
2010 conference record: 3-4, T-5th in Big East

Returning starters:

Offense: 4. Defense: 7. Punter/kicker: 2.

Top returners:

S Hakeem Smith, C Mario Benavides, WR Josh Bellamy, RB Victor Anderson, LB Daniel Brown

Key losses:

RB Bilal Powell, CB Johnny Patrick, OT Byron Stingily, OG Mark Wetterer, TE Cameron Graham, WR Doug Beaumont, LB Brandon Heath, QB Adam Froman, QB Justin Burke

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Bilal Powell (1,405 yards)
Passing: Adam Froman (1,633 yards)
Receiving:
Cameron Graham (470 yards)
Tackles: Hakeem Smith* (88 tackles)
Sacks: Rodney Gnat (9 sacks)
Interceptions: Johnny Patrick (5 interceptions)

Spring answers

1. Return of the Vic: Running back Victor Anderson, the 2008 Big East newcomer of the year, returned to the form that helped him rush for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman. Shaking off the injuries that have nagged him the past two years, Anderson had a big spring and earned praise from head coach Charlie Strong. Sophomore Jeremy Wright was presumed to be the starting tailback in place of Bilal Powell, but with Wright injured this spring, Anderson seized the opportunity.

2. Stein the man: True freshman and early enrollee Teddy Bridgewater arrived with a lot of hype from the recruiting trail. But it was former walk-on Will Stein who took charge of the quarterback competition. Stein, a junior who has made two career starts, used his poise and experience to hold off Bridgewater -- for now. Strong says he'd be very comfortable starting the 5-foot-10 Stein this season as Bridgewater continues to learn the college game.

3. Kicking it: It wasn't long ago that the Cardinals were a mess in the kicking game, especially on field goals. But Chris Philpott really solidified the punting and place-kicking chores from the middle of last season, making eight of his final nine field-goal attempts. The senior was back this spring doing his thing, and with so many injuries plaguing the Cardinals this preseason, at least they know they can count on Philpott on special teams.

Fall questions

1. Manning the corners: Cornerback was a position of need heading into the spring after the loss of starters Johnny Patrick and Bobby Burns. It remains a major concern going into the summer. The Cardinals looked at Jordan Paschal, Anthony Conner, Preston Pace and others this spring and even moved promising freshman receiver Charles Gaines there toward the end of practice. The return of Darius Ashley from injury should help, but big questions still linger.

2. Rebuilding the offensive line: The strength of Louisville's 2010 team was its veteran offensive line. This spring, that experience was nowhere to be found, as four starters graduated and the lone returnee, center Mario Benavides, sat out with a knee injury. Ryan Kessling and Alex Kupper have played as backups and should crack the starting lineup. The rest of the line is unproven and will need to continue to develop as a unit.

3. Finding big-play targets: The Cardinals struggled to stretch the field in the passing game last season, and they don't return much production at receiver. Senior Josh Bellamy established himself as a go-to guy there this spring, but the unit was thinned out by injuries this spring. Some talented newcomers are on the way this summer in DeVante Parker and Eli Rogers, and Louisville hopes Michaelee Harris can contribute after two unfortunate knee injuries. There should be more speed at wideout this season, but it will be awfully young.

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