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No. 13: Loaded Cardinals welcome Kragthorpe

Editor's Note: Beginning with No. 25 TCU and counting toward the release of the 2007 College Football Annuals, Athlon will release one spot in its Top 25 every weekday for five weeks. The No. 1 team will be revealed June 1. Check every day to see who’s next in the countdown as Athlon Sports celebrates its 40th anniversary. The 2007 versions of Athlon’s College Football Annuals hit newsstands June 5th.

No. 13: Louisville

There might be a new coach — Steve Kragthorpe, fresh off a successful four-year engagement at Tulsa — but it’s the same Louisville program that is firmly established as a player on the national scene.

Having one of the nation’s best quarterbacks in senior Brian Brohm provides something of a comfort zone for Kragthorpe in his transitional year. Brohm has been a tad fragile, but when he is healthy he can pick a defense apart. He is a career 66-percent passer with 6,751 yards, 41 TD tosses and 12 INTs. His latest appearance was as MVP of the Cardinals’ 24–13 Orange Bowl win over Wake Forest. Hunter Cantwell, Brohm’s backup, is 3–1 as a starter over the last two seasons and will have a year left as the regular signal-caller in 2008.

Kragthorpe finds not only an enviable situation at quarterback but also one of the best receiving corps in the game. Harry Douglas caught 70 passes for 1,265 yards and six touchdowns in 2006. Mario Urrutia averaged 16.8 with six scores on 58 catches. Tight end Gary Barnidge added 31 catches with a 16.5-yard average and four TD grabs.

After Michael Bush went down with an injury in the season opener, the Cardinals went the running back-by-committee route. Bush and leading rusher Kolby Smith are gone, but George Stripling and Anthony Allen are back after combining for 865 rushing yards. Stripling averaged 5.7 per carry; Allen ran for a team-high 13 touchdowns. Brock Bolen averaged 6.2 yards on 48 rushes, and he’s back, too. On the offensive line, three starters return, and two of them — center Eric Wood and tackle George Bussey — were first-team All-Big East in 2006.

Senior linebacker Malik Jackson will be the linchpin of the defense after leading the team in tackles for a loss with 16 and sacks with nine. He also recovered three fumbles and returned one 13 yards for a touchdown against West Virginia. Tackle Amobi Okoye and three departed DBs will be missed sorely, but strong safety Jon Russell is a good place to start rebuilding in the secondary.

The 2007 Cardinals travel to Kentucky on Sept. 15, and the dangerous Wildcat team will be hungry for revenge after last year’s 59–28 shellacking at Louisville last season. The most crucial games, however, are at West Virginia on Nov. 8 and home to Rutgers on Nov. 29, both Thursday night matchups.

» In four years as Tulsa’s head coach, Steve Kragthorpe took the Golden Hurricane to three bowl games.

» The 2006 Louisville offense finished second nationally in total yardage.

» The 2006 Louisville defense finished second nationally with 3.46 sacks per game.

2007 Schedule
A.     30    Murray State
S.       6    Middle Tennessee
S.     15    at Kentucky
S.     22    Syracuse
S.     29    at NC State
O.       5    Utah
O.     13    at Cincinnati
O.     20    at Connecticut
O.     27    Pittsburgh
N.       8    at West Virginia
N.     17    at South Florida
N.     29    Rutgers

Read the entire Louisville preview by ordering your Athlon Sports 2007 College Football Regional and National magazines today!

Also coming to this summer:
– Top 25 Heisman Hopefuls
– Live chats with Athlon editors
– Conference-preview videocasts.

Follow the entire 2007 football season on where we preview every game from every conference in Division I-A and recap the weekend’s BCS action in conference notebooks.

Other in-season offerings:
– Fantasy Games
– Sideline Spirit Voting
– Scenes From Saturday
– Updated Athlon 119
– Much more

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