By Paul Sykes
Hard to believe, but a month from now the Steve Kragthorpe-mentored University of Louisville football team will be in fall practice preparing for the 2009 season. Although many questions come to mind, one of the main ones revolves around the quarterback situation.
Gone is starter Hunter Cantwell. Transferring out of the program are his two backups, Matt Simms and Tyler Wolfe. Who will come out of the battle to lead the Cards onto the field against Indiana State two months from now? Let’s look at the three candidates:
Judging from spring practice and scrimmage, red shirt freshman Zach Stoudt would seem to have a slight advantage over the competition. He had the most impressive outing of the three during the scrimmage, and is a powerful passer who can also scramble when he gets into trouble.
This could be important, since the Cardinal offensive line must be reconstructed after losing George Bussey and Eric Wood to graduation. Check out the You Tube video of Stoudt throwing a football 75 yards downfield into a net. Impressive.
Sophomore Justin Burke is the only one of the three with Division 1 experience. The North Carolina State transfer has sufficient arm strength and can motor out of the backfield as well when in trouble. Displayed a few nice throws during the spring game and appears to be a “take charge” kind of guy on the field.
Adam Froman, a highly sought after junior college transfer from California, is the third candidate. Froman is an impressive physical specimen and display a very accurate throwing style during spring ball. Although his performance in the spring game wasn’t quite as good as that of Burke and Stoudt, let’s not forget he has two years of post high school experience in leading a team on the field. His scrambling skills maybe aren’t that of Burke and Froman.
We shouldn’t omit Will Stein, the fourth QB on the roster, from Louisville Trinity. Injuries play a significant role in college football these days. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen, but he could advance up the chart should any of the top three have misfortune. He’s led championship quality teams.
Although it appears that the Cardinal running game will be the most powerful offensive tool in Krag’s woodshed this fall, the old philosophy of being able to throw the ball to set up the run is still valid. A decent offensive attack needs the pass to keep the safeties and defense from “stacking the box” and clogging up a running game.
With Victor Anderson, Darius Ashley and Billal Powell returning…and the sweep abilities of Doug Beaumont, the Cards need a steady performanceat quarterback to keep defenses honest. Any winner of the QB Derby knows he must be effective from Day Oone during the schedule, because…more than I can remember for a long time, the position is far from sewn up.