Who’s Gone?

Dominique Brown, Michael Dyer

Dominique Brown started the season on fire.  Michael Dyer started the season with an injury.  By the time Dyer returned to action vs. NC State, Dominique Brown had fallen out of favor.  Combined the two senior running backs combined for 206 carries for 859 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Who’s Back?

Brandon Radcliff (5-9, 207, Jr.), L.J. Scott (6-0, 231, Soph), Corvin Lamb (5-9, 202, Sr.), Darius Skinner (5-7, 190, Sr.), Griffin Uhl (6-2, 258, Jr.), Lamar Atkins (5-11, 220, Jr.)

BREAKOUT.  That’s how you can describe Brandon Radcliff‘s sophomore season.  Bad Rad carried 144 times for 737 yards and 12 Touchdowns.  The most impressive thing about Radcliff’s season?  He only lost 14 total yards.  Radcliff’s tough running style separated him from the pack of the other Cardinal backs in 2014 and provided a much needed spark to the Louisville offense.  Radcliff is in line to be the featured back in Bobby Petrino’s offense in 2015.

Playing as a true freshman in 2014, L.J. Scott saw a lot of time at the fullback position and carried 29 times for 201 yards for an average of 6.9 yards per carry and 2 Touchdowns.  Scott should expect his role to grow more at the running back position in 2015.  It will be interesting to see if Scott can win the #2 job for the 2015, he has high-major potential and a fantastic attitude.  Louisville needs to find reliable depth at the running back position for 2015 with the ability to make big plays.

Corvin Lamb is the Cardinals’ fastest returning player, but the hard-luck kid has had the toughest time staying away from injuries during his career.  Lamb went out this year during the Clemson game for the season, and everyone is hoping this explosive player can have an impactful and healthy senior season.  Lamb has the potential to be a big-play threat whenever he is on the field.  In 2014, Lamb had 5 carries for 8 yards but his major impact came in the kick return game where Lambo had 6 returns for 187 yards and a TD. If he can stay healthy he can be a weapon, but that has proven to be a challenge during Corvin’s career.

At Fullback Lamar Atkins returns and registered 1 catch for 9 yards last year.  Atkins was used a great deal in the offense in 2014 and figures to be a factor again in 2015. Walk-on Running Back Darius Skinner had 8 carries for 27 yards and walk-on Fullback Griffin Uhl are slated to return for the Cards in 2015.

Who’s Coming?

Jeremy Smith (6’2, 225, Soph),  Malin Jones (6-0, 205, Jr.)

Originally from Hammond, LA, Jeremy Smith rushed for 1,735 yards on 205 carries and 17 touchdowns in 11 games at Fresno City College.  8.5 yards per carry is a HUGE number at any level.  Smith has enrolled at Louisville and will go through Spring practice, his presence as a JUCO will allow for some class balance and bring in a player who has explosive ability.  The Cards need bodies at Running Back and must find another play-maker at the position.  Smith has the ability to be that player.

Malin Jones transferred from Northwestern from Northwestern and has two seasons left to play at UofL. In 2013, Jones played in 8 games and recorded 3 rushes and was a 3-star running back from Joliet Cathloic (IL) High School ranked the #23 best reunning back in the nation in the 2012 recruiting year.

Who May Be Coming?

James Allen (5’11, 180 Fr.), Matt Colburn (5’9, 185, Fr.), + Other Prospeccts?

Louisville has a need at running back with only one proven returnee. As we’ve seen over the years, depth at the running back position is crucial week to week but also year to year.  With Petrino having a JUCO in the fold, he can look for an immediate freshman impact and also running backs with potential that may need a year or two of development.

Louisville has targeted several different high level prospects, but until they are at least verbal commitments they will not appear here.

James Allen from Citra, FL (north of Ocala) and Matt Colburn from Dutch Fork, SC (Mr. Football of South Carolina) are very similar players in that they both possess MAJOR explosion potential and have similar body types.  One of these two could make a big impact on the football field for Louisville in 2015, but the long-term impact is likely to be much larger.  Both of these players have acceleration through the hole and do a fantastic job of creating big plays.

Allen committed to the Cards in June and is set to visit Marshall next weekend and Louisville for an official visit on 1/31.  Some say the visit to Marshall is a back-up plan in case

Best Guess Depth Chart

Running Back

1) Brandon Radcliff
2) LJ Scott OR
2) Jeremy Smith OR
2) Malin Jones
4) Corvin Lamb
5) James Allen OR
5) Matt Colburn

Fullback

1) Lamar Atkins OR
2) Griffin Uhl

Brandon Radcliff being the #1 Running Back is probably the safest bet of any here.  But Bad Rad isn’t going to just be the incumbent at the position, if he starts vs. Auburn in the Georgia Dome on Labor Day weekend it is because he put the same effort in KEEPING the position as did in WINNING the position during the 2014 season.  HARD WORK, HIGH ENERGY, POSITIVE ATTITUDE.  Really those 3 attributes describe Radcliff better than any.  But he is also extremely strong.  One thing we saw from Radcliff in 2014 was that he actually was better at the end of games when he was coming in to face a tired defense.  I like Radcliff in that role more than a starter or early primary back, his leg strength is superior and being able to hit a defense with someone as powerful as Radcliff provides a MAJOR weapon for Bobby Petrino during clutch time.  I’m interested to see if Petrino continues that use of Radcliff or if Radcliff takes the early reps with maybe some rest in the 3rd quarter before coming in to close the game.

This isn’t a time for a single running back so we can expect that 2-4 other running backs are going to play very important roles in carrying the football for Louisville in 2015.  Who?  I honestly can’t make an educated guess at the moment.  How good is Jeremy Smith at the major college football level?  How far has LJ Scott come?  Can Corvin Lamb get healthy?  Do James Allen and Matt Colburn come in and impress right away?  Does the Louisville coaching staff add other immediate impact possibilities in recruiting or immediate transfers?  We’ll see.   For Spring practice Petrino will have Radcliff, Scott and Smith and we should have an idea where those guys stack up here in a few months.

At fullback, it’s a safe bet that Atkins has the leg up on everyone else having the experience he has.  I am interested to see where Griffin Uhl fits in this season and how quickly Tim Cook gets into the offense.  All 3 fullbacks will be in during Spring Practice and more than likely there will be different situations where each is needed.

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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