--By Mike Gilpatrick
--File photo by Seth Spalding
With football just over a month away, River City Cards will look at the 2018 Louisville depth chart; unit by unit. This week, RCC will break down Louisville’s special teams, which returns many from last season.
Football season is almost upon us. The Cards kick off September 1st in Orlando, just 33 days from now. When they travel south, one unit that hasn’t hardly changed is special teams. They return players at most positions from 2017’s depth chart.
While there hasn’t been an official depth chart for 2018 that dropped, it’s projected that Russ Yeast will take over for Alexander as punt returner, and Seth Dawkins as the kick returner. Louisville also lost Reggie Bonnafon, who had the most punt returns last year.
Yeast had 10 returns last year, and averaged 3.3 yards. With another year of experience, and more return opportunities, Yeast should improve. The Cards also struggled with blocking, which must improve if they’re to get more return yards.
Dawkins has some experience returning. He had the most of anyone last season, with 12. He returned 26 kicks in his career, averaging 21.6 yards. Dawkins is a big player with experience.
Backing up Yeast and Dawkins will likely be Josh Johnson. The three-star wideout played 10 last year, and made
three receptions on offense. He did show glimpses of being able to get down field.
Aside from returners, much of special teams will look the same.
Mason King will likely start as punter and holder. He was 25th in the nation last season with 43.9 yards per punt. His longest was a 58-yarder against Syracuse last November.
Blanton Creque solidified his role as the placekicker in 2017, and will take over again. He made 17 of 20 last season, and hit a massive 48-yard field goal against NC State. One of his most memorable kicks went against Florida State last season, when he made a game-winning 34-yarder in Tallahassee. He became the first kicker since John Wallace in 2012 to make a game-winner.
Mitch Hall, who took over for long snapper Colin Holba last year, will again assume the role.
--By Mike Gilpatrick
--File photo by Seth Spalding
Happy New Year, Louisville Football fans...
While kickoff is still a month and a half away, ACC Football Media Day signifies the start of a new year. Every team is 0-0, and Fans are excited for what the season will have in store; and how the conference will shape up at the end of November.
Though most of the spotlight shines on aspects like new Florida State Head Coach Willie Taggart, Clemson's starting quarterback, or whether Miami can repeat last season; there are plenty of storylines from Bobby Petrino and Co.
2018 marks a new era in Louisville Football. No more Lamar Jackson under center. Jawon Pass takes over the offense. Standing at 6-4, Pass is a redshirt dual-threat QB that showed promise in limited action last year. In six games, he completed 23 of 33 for 238 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 13 times for 62 yards and one score.
Pass is a more typical Petrino QB. He has a good arm, and can scramble out of the pocket if need be.
On the other side of the ball, Louisville lost defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon. They replaced him with Brian VanGorder; Petrino's linebackers coach from the 2007 Atlanta Falcons. VanGorder worked for 10 different college programs and three NFL teams. His most recent stint as DC was with Notre Dame, when he was fired four games into his third season, after allowing 33.5 points per game.
His hire was intriguing to say the least. One clear advantage he has over Sirmon is experience. VanGorder has been in football for 37 years. He transformed the Falcons defense into the 11th best defense in points allowed in 2008, with 20.3. He also allowed 31 points in Georgia's final seven games. VanGorder also won the Broyles Award, the top trophy an assistant coach can obtain.
It will be intriguing to see what defense he runs. He ran the 4-3 for many seasons, and stated that Louisville's personnel best fits the formation, but still hasn't decided what the final formation will be.
Regardless, most Louisville fans are wondering whether the Cards will finally break through, and defeat ranked opponents. They rolled over against Clemson last year, after narrowly losing to the Tigers in 2016. Louisville was trounced by NC State last season. Then, they lost to Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer Bowl (which was the first of many losses to the Bulldogs in 2017-18).
It seemed as though Louisville hasn't kept up with ranked teams since Petrino came back. Despite this, 2018 is a new year; and Louisville may compete in the ACC Atlantic.
The Cards take on Alabama Week one, in Orlando. The game kicks off Saturday, September 1st, at 8pm; at Camping World Stadium. Louisville opens their home schedule the next Saturday, September 8th, at 7pm. The game will be at Cardinal Stadium.
Keep up with River City Cards for Louisville football insight, analysis, and news.