All the whining about last year’s disappointing football season finally settled down at about the same time University of Louisville fans turned their full attention to basketball. For football coach Steve Kragthorpe, the timing couldn’t have been better. He badly needed to do a little housecleaning, say goodbye to some NFL hopefuls, attract some capable assistant coaches, and complete his first full recruiting class.
Kragthorpe gathers his troops together for the first time officially since last season when spring drills begin Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. New beginning: reason for optimism. Coaching transitions, more often than not, are accompanied by setbacks and adjustments to new systems. Takes time, and Kragthorpe will take advantage.
His first season at U of L was certainly full of ups-and-downs. Despite a couple of early losses, the Cardinals defeated 15th-ranked Cincinnati last season, 28-24, at Nippert Stadium for Kragthorpe’s first signature win, and battled back from a 38-24 fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Rutgers, 41-38, in the regular-season finale.
There will definitely be tons of speed on the field with players like Bilal Powell, Jajuan Spillman, Trent Guy and Victor Anderson on the offensive side. It will be interesting to see the competition between Hunter Cantwell, Tyler Wolfe and Matt Simms for the quarterback position. The transition of people like Sergio Spencer and Brandon Health to defense will get a lot of attention, as will transfers James Bryant, from Miami, and James McKinney, from Michigan.
Expectations won’t be through the roof this season as they were last year. One would hope, however, that the enthusiasm that prompted fans to rush the field after the win over Rutgers carries over into preparations for the 2008 season. The fans became permanently invested in U of L football when the former coach took the Cards to the Orange Bowl and their first BCS victory ever. They are eagerly hoping to see it happen again, the sooner the better.
Welcome back, football.