Louisville Running back No. 34 Jeremy Smith celebrates after Louisville's win against Wake Forest. Photo by River City Cards staff
Experience looks to fill void in backfield
Another week, another preview. This week, we will look at the running back position, perhaps one of the most intriguing spots on the depth chart. For many years, Brandon Radcliff held the starting role. But his departure left a hole in the backfield that will be filled by quarterback turned wide receiver turned running back Reggie Bonnafon.
The senior from Trinity is arguably the most intriguing player on Louisville’s roster. He joined the Football team in 2014, and started four games, completing 61 of 120 for 864 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions. He also rushed 72 times for 164 yards and five touchdowns. The year after, he rushed 45 times for 175 yards. He also stepped back from quarterback, due to some kid named Lamar Jackson that would go onto win the Heisman the year after. Bonnafon completed 14 of 24 in 2015 for 192 yards.
The reason I’m still mentioning his passing stats are because he gives another layer of depth to an already good Louisville offense. Head coach Bobby Petrino could utilize him in a wildcat situation to potentially throw off opposing defenses. He has proved he can also catch, he caught 23 passes for 264 yards over the past two seasons. So, it’s conceivable that he could catch a quick slant, run it himself, or even line up next to Lamar Jackson, and keep opposing defenses guessing on which person will receive the snap. Though Petrino probably won’t use him that way, he still can be used in perhaps any situation.
Behind Bonnafon is Senior Jeremy Smith. The 6’2”, 227 lb. native of Hammond, California proved that he is a physical back and succeeds in short-yardage situations. In 2016, he rushed 57 attempts for 382 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished 10th in the ACC for rushing touchdowns. The only Louisville player with more rushing touchdowns was quarterback Lamar Jackson (He also won the Heisman). Smith also caught 18 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. Look for him to have another year of success, and to receive multiple handoffs, especially with the improved offensive line.
The third running back on the depth chart is Senior Malik Williams. He has not had much game action, but it is expected for him to have more of a role this upcoming season. Last year, he played in 11 games, where he rushed for 145 yards in 19 attempts. He also had one touchdown.
Overall, Louisville should succeed in the backfield. Bonnafon proved to be capable in any offensive situation, while Jeremy Smith is the physical back that can punch the ball forward for a couple yards. Next week, River City Cards will look at the receiving positions- wide receiver and tight ends.