Midseason review: Louisville
It's time to take another half-measure, wrapping up today's reviews with Louisville.
The Cardinals (3-2) are one game shy of the actual midway point of their season, and they are far from a finished product. A team reliant on a lot of newcomers and first-time starters has been predictably inconsistent in the early going. They could have been 4-1 had they held onto a second-half lead at home against UConn, but they probably could just as easily be 2-3 if not for some special teams magic last weekend at Memphis. Statistically, the Cards look strong; they rank second in the Big East in both scoring and total offense and are third in total defense. Mistakes in critical situations have kept them from having a better record at this point, however.
Offensive MVP: RB Victor Anderson. One of the most pleasant surprises in the conference, Anderson is averaging 100 yards rushing per game and has scored six touchdowns. The redshirt freshman has given Louisville a home run threat at tailback that it lacked all of last season. He can also stretch defenses coming out of the backfield in the passing game.
Defensive MVP: DT Earl Heyman. One of the team's emotional leaders, the senior is tied for the team lead with two sacks and has 3.5 tackles for loss. Along with Adrian Grady, his work in plugging up the middle has helped the Cardinals be surprisingly stout against the run so far this season.
What's next: Louisville has only left home once so far this season and gets the next two games (Middle Tennessee State and South Florida) at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. West Virginia and Cincinnati still have to come to the Cardinals' place as well. Of the three remaining road games, two of them -- at Rutgers and at Syracuse -- look very winnable. While Louisville remains precariously thin at several positions, its youngsters have gained valuable early experience, and offensive weapons like Scott Long and Trent Guy are just now getting healthy. While the loss to UConn probably eliminated any hopes of winning the Big East, the Cardinals could notch as many as eight victories if they stay healthy and eliminate some of their drive-killing mental errors. After last year's 6-6 fiasco, that would represent a big improvement in Steve Kragthorpe's second year.