Louisville Deep In Talented Running Backs

By Paul Sykes

The running game was among the bright spots in the University of Louisville football program last season. That element will return full strength this year and could possibly be the stable and steady force U of L needs until the quarterback issue is settled.

Leading the way at halfback position is former Louisville St. Xavier star Victor Anderson, who rushed for 1,047 yards and had five game over 100 yards carrying the ball.  The 5-foot-9, 180-pound sophomore is elusive, shifty and equally comfortable taking the ball north-south or dashing around end.

Darius Ashley, the third string tailback, could ultimately be the best of the three.

Should he tire, there’s backup Bilal Powell who rushed for 354 yards, including 114 against UConn.  The junior stands 6-foot-1 and weighs in at 215 pounds., which makes him a ideal short yardage back. One would hope that Powell rediscovers some of the dazzling escapability he showed as a punt returner during his freshman year.

Darius Ashley, the third string tailback, could ultimately be the best of the three. A highly sought after freshman, Ashley was one of the nation’s best at Cincinnati St. X as a senior and is ready to shed the redshirt and help the Cards anyway he can.

When the Cards go to a two-back set, expect senior Joe Tronzo to line up as the fullback. Tronzo, also out of Louisville St. X only carried the ball once the entire season last year, but is regarded as an excellent blocking back. At 260 pounds, he could be a tough one to haul down … if he does get carries. Senior walk on Marcus Roberts backs up Tronzo at fullback and had a very nice spring game.

Whether the offensive line will be capable of opening the holes and providing the schematic blocking for game breakers to create remains to be seen.

Let’s not forget about the ball handling abilities of a couple of other Cardinals. Doug Beaumont is a breakaway threat on a receiver pitch and is a true speed burner when in open field. Trent Guy displayed excellent broken field running for the Cards on kick returns and had nice breakaway runs against Memphis, UConn and Syracuse.

Whether the offensive line will be capable of opening the holes and providing the schematic blocking for these game breakers remains to be seen. If Coach Steve Kragthorpe can find a way, though, to get effective production on the ground, it should keep the Cards moving the ball until he settles on a quarterback for the aerial assault.

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Paul Sykes

Paul Sykes owns Paul Sykes Advertising and does contract work for other advertising and publishing firms. The proud husband of Sonja, he has a fascination with bears, bars and Cardinal sports. He's also the moderator of CardinalCouple.blogspot.com

2 thoughts on “Louisville Deep In Talented Running Backs

  • July 12, 2009 at 9:27 pm
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    Running is an important part of the game no doubt but you got to be able to throw effectively. Remember Rutgers last year and how they blistered the UofL secondary time and time again with passing. Same with Pitt. We have a proud tradition at UofL with high quality quarterbacks. Let’s hope one of these currently trying to win the starting job can become one of those.

  • July 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm
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    Paul,

    I agree with you that the running game could be the strength of this team. My fear is that with an inexperienced line and unproven QB, UofL will see alot of 8 man fronts. You can bet the house that UK will almost exclusively go man on the outside and force UofL to pass the ball. Until the QB proves he can pass, whoever that is, UofL will most likely struggle in the run game. I think Vic is a super star, Bilal is a decent college RB, and Ashley seems to have tons of potential. Lets hope the QB position will straighten up quick, and these talented RB’s are given an opportunity to run with some space.

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