Previous Position Previews
2013 Running Back Review:
The Louisville Running Game finished 87th in the nation in 2013 at 146.85 yards per game, but the Cards actually averaged just 35 rushing attempts per game (101st). The stat (like stats are prone to do) is misleading because the Cardinal offense was predicated on ball control as Louisville ran just 68.8 plays per game.
Dominique Brown led all ball-carriers in 2013 with 825 yards (5.1 ypc) and 8 Touchdowns followed by Senorise Perry with 677 yards & 6 TDs. Perry came back swiftly after an ACL injury caused him to miss the ending of the 2012 season, and is now with the Chicago Bears organization. Michael Dyer struggled during 2013 with a sports hernia injury and appeared in just 7 games following his transfer into the program and tallied 223 yards on 44 carries and 2 Touchdowns.
As a group, the Running Backs caught 48 passes out of the backfield for 434 yards and 2 Touchdowns.
2014 Running Back Preview Coaches & Roster:
The Running Back group will be coached by former Louisville great Kolby Smith who is uniquely qualified as he played both Running Back and Fullback for the Cards. Smith was a part of arguably the best Running Back era in school history as he played with Eric Shelton, Lionel Gates, Michael Bush, George Stripling, and Anthony Allen before getting drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. Kolby was a threat on the ground and receiving out of the backfield and was always well-regarded as a technically sound Running Back. Last season Coach Smith (it’s going to take some time to get used to calling him Coach Smith) was at Western Kentucky with Coach Petrino where he coached Antonio Andrews. Andrews picked up by the Tennessee Titans was the nation’s top All Purpose Player with 2619 yards (next closest was Georgia State’s Albert Wilson with 2283, 336 yards behind Andrews) and 1730 yards rushing.
Offensive Line Coach Chris Klenakis will also serve as the Running Game Coordinator and is known for his “Pistol” concepts at Nevada (2007-09) where he was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach during the Colin Kapernick era before moving over to Arkansas from 2010-12 as the Offensive Line Coach. The 2013 season Klenakis was with the Iowa State Cyclones.
Dominique Brown (6’2 233, RS Sr.) looked fantastic coming back from missing the 2012 season due to a knee injury particularly in the last 6 games of the regular season. Dominique added 17 lbs for 2014 and rushed for 27 yards & 1 TD on just 6 carries in the Spring Game. Dominique is a tall Running Back and does run somewhat upright, if he has an opportunity to make his first cut he is VERY dangerous but the key is the Louisville offensive line creating enough room for Dominique to be successful. One thing is for sure, Bobby Petrino is going to run the ball and Bobby Petrino likes big Running Backs. Dominique Brown really fits that mold and stated at Media Day that his personal goal is to be a 1000 yard running back.
When discussing the depth chart with Petrino at the ACC Kickoff the old/new Louisville Head Coach said that is depth chart at the #1 spot should be listed Dominique Brown OR Michael Dyer OR LJ Scott. In the case of Michael Dyer (5’9, 213 Sr.) Petrino has seen a new level of commitment to his craft out of the Auburn transfer. Dyer came to Louisville with tremendous expectations and Coach Petrino admitted that Dyer wasn’t fully healthy until the very end of Spring Drills. With a commitment to his health in the weight room Dyer is preparing for his final collegiate season where he hopes to display the talent that had scouts rate him the #5 overall out of high school, and show why he was able to break Bo Jackson’s freshman rushing record and was named Offensive MVP in the BCS National Championship Game and named 1st Team ALL-SEC in 2011. Michael Dyer did not have that form in 2013, but he could be an offensive powder keg for the Cardinals in 2014. Personally, I think Michael Dyer is sitting on a HUGE season and fans that have invested previously in the Teddy Bridgewater #5 jersey will be able to wear their #5 in 2014 for a different player that has another dramatic impact on the program.
The third part of the the #1 Running Back equation is true Freshman LJ Scott (6’0, 228 Fr.). LJ Scott came to Louisville a semester early and while he should have been enjoying his high school prom and “gravy training” his final semester of high school like 99.99% of other high school seniors, LJ Scott was at Louisville going to sleep early, taking care of his body and impressing the new Louisville coaching staff. Scott did so well in the Spring that fans can expect to see a very HEALTHY dose of LJ Scott for the 2014 season. Scott came to the Cards already famous with a Sportscenter Top 10 play from his high school Marion Harding HS in Marion, OH. LJ originally committed to the Charlie Strong staff and was 3-star prospect according to all 3 scouting services with offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Indiana, Michigan St, Minnesota, & Wisconsin among others. LJ Scott is a real deal athlete with a veteran mentality and had 22 carries for 125 yards and 2 TDs during the Spring Game. Scott may also play a little fullback for 2014 in an effort to get his talent onto the field. Card fans are going to really love his game. He is RARE.
Brandon “Bad Rad” Radcliff (5’9, 214 RS Soph) is one of the great personalities on the Louisville Football team. He’s someone that I personally want to see succeed. The Louisville backfield is a bit stacked this year, particularly of the type of back that Radcliff is at the moment which is a physical/hard to tackle running back. It may take another season for Radcliff to really work into the rotation but Petrino likes to use multiple backs and the Cards may just be an injury away from needing to mix “Bad Rad” in 2014. Corvin Lamb (5’9, 200 RS-Jr.) is Louisville’s fastest player and has struggled with injuries his entire career. Corvin is one of the many talents on the Louisville roster from Miami Northwestern HS, but only was able to play in 2 games and get 4 carries for 13 yards before losing the year to injury. I expect Lamb to factor a lot in 3rd & Long situations out of the backfield and get used similarly to how Petrino used to use George Stripling. Louisville right now doesn’t have another back quite like Corvin and I think we’ll see Corvin get more opportunities than ever to get the ball in space, particularly on kickoff return.
Lamar Atkins (5-11, 218, RS-Soph) is star Linebacker Keith Brown’s brother and switched from Linebacker to Fullback in the middle of last season. Lamar appeared in 11 games last year and caught 3 passes and added 6 tackles. With an offseason learning the position, Atkins could be much improved for 2014. Griffin Uhl (6’2, 260, RS-Soph.) didn’t play high school football and looked fantastic at fullback early last season before missing the rest of the year with a concussion. Luke Brohm (6’1, 232, RS-Jr.) will also mix in at Fullback for 2014 after adding 32 lbs to his frame. Brohm’s game is going to be interesting with the added weight to his frame.
My Projected Depth Chart
1) Dominique Brown
1) Michael Dyer
3) L.J. Scott
4) Corvin Lamb
5) Brandon Radcliff
6) Darius Skinner
1) Lamar Atkins
2) LJ Scott
3) Griffin Uhl
4) Luke Brohm
Malin Jones (6’0, 200) transferred from Northwestern and is ineligible for the 2014 season.
2015 NFL Draft Possibles: Dominique Brown, Michael Dyer
2015 Roster Expected Available: LJ Scott, Brandon Radcliff, Corvin Lamb, Lamar Atkins, Griffin Uhl, Luke Brohm, Malin Jones
2016 Roster Expected Available: LJ Scott, Brandon Radcliff, Lamar Atkins, Griffin Uhl, Malin Jones
2017: Roster Expected Available: LJ Scott, Griffin Uhl
2018 Roster Expected Available: LJ Scott (if redshirt is used…..it won’t be)
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