Freshman All-American quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be the poster boy for Louisville football this season - and rightfully so. But for Bridgewater to be effective, Louisville's rushing attack must be effective.
"I've said this and I believe this. In order for us to be an outstanding football team, we need to be able to run the football," coach Charlie Strong said. "To run the football, you have to play physical."
Coming out of spring practice, the Cardinals had four top backs near the top of the depth chart - juniors Dominique Brown, Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry and redshirt freshman Corvin Lamb.
"You look at Senorise Perry and Dominique Brown," Strong said after the 2012 Spring Game. "We have the backs with Corvin Lamb and Jeremy Wright where they can be physical thought to run behind their pads now and get positive yards. That has to happen."
Both Brown and Lamb are 220-pound plus, giving them the ability to dish out punishment with each carry. Neither are the 250-pound big back like former Louisville star and current Chicago Bear Michael Bush, but both are physical runners. Perry, at 6-foot, 198-pounds, and Wright at 5-11, 205, aren't as big, but are speedy enough to carry a change of pace.
If Brown or Lamb get hurt and Louisville is lacking in the physicality department, it won't be for long. Miami Columbus star Brandon Radcliff will be enrolling in the fall. Just 5-10, Radcliff is easily 220 pounds and runs like a bowling ball.
The Cardinals rushed for 1,580 yards last season, averaging 3.4 yards per carry with 13 rushing touchdowns. Leading rusher Vic Anderson graduated with 539 yards rushing his final season. His 114 carries are up for grabs as Brown finished the season with 140 carries, Wright had 73 and Perry had 12. Both Wright and Perry figure to get the bulk of Anderson's touches.
For Strong, having a physical and effective rushing attack is a key to the season's success.
"What happens when you run the football is the strength of your team is going to be about toughness," Strong said. "And it's going to make the defense tougher because they're going to have to stop the run (in practice). On offense they have to be able to run the ball and we can be a play action team and get Teddy in the open field. He can make the throws and we can move the chains."
Louisville opens the season Sunday, Sept. 2 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium versus arch-rival Kentucky. Stay logged on to CardinalSports.com for news and updates on Louisville football throughout the summer: 100 Days of Football