BOZICH | Nine or 10 wins for Louisville football? WDRB season predictions
Can Lamar Jackson, Jaire Alexander and a rebuilt offensive line lead Louisville to a 9- or 10-win season? Predictions from the WDRB Sports staff.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- This script seems familiar:
A jumbo-sized opening week victory. Followed by a conference road win in week two. Followed by a week three conference home game against a national power guaranteed to stir interest across every college football platform.
Last season Louisville started the year ranked 21st and surged to No. 3, drawing six first-place votes, after dispatching Charlotte, Syracuse and Clemson over the first three weeks of the season.
This season the Cardinals will begin play ranked 16th and are primed to generate more love if they can handle Purdue, North Carolina (in Chapel Hill next weekend) and Clemson (ranked fifth and the defending national champions) at home Sept. 16.
The drama will begin against Purdue Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in a FoxSports game that will be televised on WDRB at 7:30.
The blocking and tackling will be preceded by a 90-minute pre-game show that will feature Cards' quarterback Lamar Jackson, halfback Reggie Bonnafon, defender Trevon Young, offensive line coach Mike Summers, defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon. There will also be stories from Purdue with head coach Jeff Brohm, offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm and defensive coordinator Nick Holt.
Here are the season predictions for the Cards:
Mike Lacett (9-3) -- It will be a fantastic season, but I still don't think the Cardinals are ready to compete with the baddest of the bad.
Eric Crawford (9-3) -- A win over Clemson in Week 3 would upgrade this, and perhaps set up a special season, regardless of outcome at FSU.
John Lewis (9-3) -- The Cards' schedule along with their ability to play with a chip on their shoulder could be the key to a 9- (or maybe even 10) win season.
Katie George (10-2) -- Louisville beats the defending national champion (Clemson) in its home opener. The North Carolina State game looks like a trap game on the road. The Cards will struggle in Tallahassee against Florida State as well.
Tom Lane (9-3) -- Another strong season from the Cardinals comes up just short in the toughest division in the country.
Rick Bozich (9-3) -- The Cards will split with Clemson and Florida State, lose at Kentucky and get knocked off a third time during one of their three trips to North Carolina (playing North Carolina, N.C. State or Wake Forest).
Five Louisville Players to Watch
5. Mekhi Becton, offensive tackle -- Talk to U of L offensive line coach Mike Summers about Becton and he raves about Becton's agility and speed more than his mammoth 6-foot-7, 340-pound body. Becton picked U of L over Oregon, Michigan and several other prime timers. He will wear No. 73 and should change the dynamic of the Cardinals' ability to block and pass protect.
4. Reggie Bonnafon, halfback -- Quarterback, hybrid, running back, quarterback, receiver, running back. Hard to remember a guy who has had a more versatile career with the Cardinals. They say Bonnafon has settled in at running back this season and it's time to give him the ball and let him go.
3. Trevon Young, linebacker/defensive end -- Ask Texas A&M how relentlessly Young was pressuring the pocket in the 2015 Music City Bowl before he left with a hip injury that forced him to miss last season. He's back and expected to be spotted in the Purdue backfield Saturday night.
2. Jaire Alexander, cornerback -- Louisville has sent a long line of outstanding defensive backs to the NFL -- Lenny Lyles, Frank Minnifield, Ray Buchanan, Sam Madison, William Gay and others. Alexander has a chance to be as good as any of them, with add-on value as a guy who returns kicks.
1. Lamar Jackson, quarterback -- You know his story, even if too many other media members and fans have tried to overlook Jackson this summer.
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