BOZICH | Monday Muse: Would U of L trade quarterbacks with UK, I - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Monday Muse: Would U of L trade quarterbacks with UK, IU or WKU?

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – You didn’t have to ask which player was going to quarterback the University of Louisville football team when the Cardinals went to the Fiesta Bowl in 1990.

Browning Nagle. Cannon arm. End of discussion.

Ditto for the 2006 Orange Bowl season. Brian Brohm was The Guy. Or the 2013 season that ended in the Orange Bowl. Teddy Bridgewater. Case Closed.

This season Bobby Petrino has yet to name his guy for the Cardinals’ opener against Auburn Saturday in Atlanta. So I wonder if we’re asking the wrong question.

Instead of asking whether Will Gardner or Reggie Bonnafon will earn the start, should we be asking this:

Does either quarterback bring enough all-around skills to direct U of L to the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference?

Can Bonnafon upgrade his completion percentage from 50.8 percent to at least 60 and stop throwing balls to the other team? Can Gardner stay healthy and move with enough agility to avoid the pass rush?

I wonder. I also wonder this:

Do Kentucky, Indiana and Western Kentucky all have better options at quarterback than Louisville?

Patrick Towles has improving passing skills and an unflappable presence in the Kentucky huddle. The folks at CBSSports.com have written that Towles could surprise NFL scouts this season. He didn’t need much time to put Drew Barker away in the quarterback competition at UK.

Nate Sudfeld is a proven 61 percent passer whose size and poise have attracted NFL scouts at Indiana. He’s listed as the 10th best QB prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft by CBSSports.com, ahead of the next guy I’m going to mention.

Brandon Doughty of WKU threw for more than 4,800 yards with 49 touchdowns last season – and plans to be better as a sixth-year senior for coach Jeff Brohm.

Bobby Petrino expects more dynamic offense from his U of L team this season. He’ll need improved quarterback play to make that happen.

2. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Petrino is not the only head coach listening to Eric Crawford and declining to name his starting quarterback prior to Game One. This quarterback mystery virus has spread to Tuscaloosa, Tallahassee, Seattle, Columbus and beyond.

I’ve probably missed a campus or two, but by my count at least eight other programs have yet to name starting quarterbacks. I’m not talking about chump programs either. Most of these places have eyes on the Top 25 – or higher. A few coaches are juggling three guys.

Here is my list and the contenders:

Ohio State – Cardell Jones or J. T. Barrett.

Florida State – Everett Golson or Sean Maguire.

Alabama – Jake Coker, Alec Morris or Cooper Bateman.

Washington – Jeff Lindquist, K.J. Carta-Samuels or Jake Browning

Georgia – Brice Ramsey or Greyson Lambert.

Florida – Treon Harris or Will Grier.

Michigan – Shane Morris or Jake Rudock.

Ole Miss – Chad Kelly, Ryan Buchanan or DeVante Kincade.

3. Auburn R-E-S-P-E-C-T-S Sheldon Rankins

Don’t look for much bulletin board material this week from Auburn, at least when discussing the Louisville defense.

In fact, Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has already gone on record as saying that Louisville defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins is worthy of all the pre-season accolades he has collected.

And Auburn guard Alex Kozan told AL.com that Rankins is as talented as the guys from Florida State that he was asked to block in the 2014 BCS championship game.

4. Wishing Cam Cameron The Best

Keep former Indiana coach Cam Cameron in your thoughts and prayers. He’s recovering from what he calls a procedure for prostrate cancer.

Cameron has reported that his treatment plan has been successful and that he expects to continue as the play-caller and offensive coordinator for Les Miles at Louisiana State. Cameron said he’ll work from the press box without restrictions.

Cameron, for the record, still has a strong connection to the IU program. His son, Danny, a redshirt freshman, is currently the backup to Sudfeld with the Hoosiers.

If all goes as planned for coach Kevin Wilson, Cameron will be the second-team quarterback all season as IU redshirts sophomore Zander Diamont.

LSU coach Les Miles also has former Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe on his staff in a non-coaching position. Kragthorpe resigned the offensive coordinator job several years ago because of his battle with Parkinson’s disease but he continues to work at LSU as a special assistant to Miles.

5. Stoops on The Hot Seat?

Easy. Relax. It’s only year three for Mark Stoops at Kentucky, and I’ve already gone on record predicting a 7-5 season for the Wildcats.

But people in Oklahoma don’t get excited about 8-5 or even 11-2, the Sooners’ records the last two seasons. Bob Stoops, the OU coach, has not won a national title since 2000, his second season on the job.

The Sooners are picked to finish behind TCU and Baylor in the Big 12 this season. Won’t work.

That is what has inspired the chatter that the OU faithful is not as gaga about Stoops as they were when he arrived from Florida as Steve Spurrier’s former hot-shot defensive coordinator. It's been a topic of discussion on ESPN and written about in the Big 12.

If the Sooners lose at Tennessee, Sept. 12, the story line will pick up again.

6. Check Back For Season Predictions

As usual, I’m collecting season projections for U of L, UK, IU and WKU from the entire WDRB Sports department.

I’ll post the projected season records as predicted by Tom Lane, John Lewis, Mike Lacett, Eric Crawford and myself by Wednesday.

I’ve already seen some of the predictions. All I will say is this: Ghost-busting Mike Lacett might not be “afraid of no ghosts,” but U of L and IU fans should be afraid of what he foresees for their teams.

7. Twenty Years Ago Today

Sorry, Sgt. Pepper, but the folks from SaturdayDownSouth.com are not talking about the Beatles. They are talking about the 14 head football coaches in the Southeastern Conference.

In fact, they wondered about the paths that each of the coaches traveled to arrive at their dream jobs in the SEC. So they turned the clock back two decades and researched where all 14 guys were in 1995. (The link.)

It’s a fun list, ranging from Steve Spurrier ruling the world at Florida to Gus Malzahn, Hugh Freeze and Mark Stoops coaching high school football.

Here is your link. And I have expanded the list to include the four local guys.

Mark Stoops coached the defensive backs in Nardonia High School, in northeast Ohio, outside of Cleveland

Bobby Petrino was sharpening his play-calling skills and developing his connection to John L. Smith as the Utah State offensive coordinator

Kevin Wilson served as a trusted assistant to his close friend Randy Walker as the Miami (Ohio) offensive coordinator.

Jeff Brohm was trying to convince the Washington Redskins that he was a better quarterback than Gus Frerotte and Heath Shuler.

8. How to Annoy Jay Gruden

I’ll tell you another time there wasn’t a quarterback dilemma at the University of Louisville. Try 1986 when Jay Gruden was running the show for Howard Schnellenberger.

Gruden battled through a serious knee injury to celebrate a solid career for the Cardinals. That taught Gruden how to grind, working his way in his coaching career from the Arena Football League to eventually becoming the head coach of the Washington Redskins.

You can criticize Gruden for his won-loss record. You can question the way he has handled quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Just don’t question his weight. He doesn’t like it. Not one bit, as he said during a recent press conference:

"I listen to it a little bit, I read some articles. I have to kind of be up to date so when I come up here I'm aware of what's going on, you know. I really dislike the guy who called me a fat ass. That really ticked me off. I don't mind you critiquing my coaching style, but to make fun of my weight, that's unfair. I'm only 225. Jesus."

9. Smallest and Tallest

Football coaches live by measurements. They worry about backs who are too small and take a pounding. They worry about linemen who are too large and cannot create leverage.

Thank goodness for exceptions. Some coach is usually willing to take a chance. The folks at BleacherReport.com sifted through the rosters of 2015 teams and developed this list of the smallest and tallest players in the game.

SMALLEST

Ernest Calhoun, 5 feet 6, 155 pounds, receiver, Kent State

Shane Williams-Rhodes, 5-6, 173, receiver, Boise State

Desmon White, 5-7, 150, receiver, TCU

TALLEST

Dan Skipper, 6-10, 331, offensive lineman, Arkansas

Zach Banner, 6-9, 360, offensive lineman, USC

Mason Zandi, 6-9, 314, offensive lineman, South Carolina

10. Poll Results

Last week I asked which team ranked in the AP pre-season college football Top 25 was most likely to lose on opening weekend. The result was not surprising, considering only one local team is playing a Top 25 opponent.

That team is sixth-ranked Auburn, which gets Louisville in Atlanta Saturday afternoon.

The results

Auburn (to U of L) 50 percent

Wisconsin (to Alabama) 25 percent

Notre Dame (to Texas) 10 percent

Arizona State (to Texas A&M) 7 percent

Ohio State (to Virginia Tech) 3 percent

Boise State (to Washington) 2 percent

Stanford (to Northwestern) 1 percent

Alabama (to Wisconsin) 1 percent

TCU (to Minnesota) 1 percent.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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