Louisville Cardinals

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Louisville clarifies titles for revamped defensive coaching staff

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The offseason shuffling of Bobby Petrino‘s defensive coaching staff appears to be complete.

Thanks to Todd Grantham‘s move to Mississippi State earlier this offseason, Petrino was forced to overhaul his staff on that side of the ball.  Peter Sirmon, who Grantham replaced at MSU, was hired by the U of L as defensive coordinator in mid-January.

As the Cardinals kicked off spring practice this week, the football program detailed the responsibilities for the defensive side of the staff.

New defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon announced on Wednesday that he has finalized position changes on his defensive staff. Sirmon will mentor the defense, but will also coach the outside linebackers. Lorenzo Ward will coach the secondary, while Cort Dennison will now mentor the inside linebackers. L.D. Scott will stick with coaching the defensive line.

Last season under Grantham, the Cardinals were 31st nationally and sixth in the ACC in scoring defense (23.8 points per game).  They were 14th and third, respectively, in total defense (319.6 yards per game).

Ex-Georgia CB Shaq Wiggins will transfer from Louisville, too

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Like a growing number of college football players, Shaq Wiggins is hoping that the third time will be a charm.

In a series of posts sent out through his personal Twitter account, Wiggins announced that he has “decided to part ways” with Louisville “and transfer else where (sic).” The Cardinals cornerback gave no reason for his decision to move on from the football program.

Wiggins has already received his degree from the U of L, thus affording him the opportunity to move on with immediate eligibility at another FBS program.

In early May, Georgia announced that Wiggins had decided to transfer from the Bulldogs; later that month, he followed former UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to the U of L. With Grantham departing this offseason for the same job at Mississippi State, it’s thought that the Bulldogs will be a potential landing spot for Wiggins.

Wiggins started at corner for the Cardinals in 2015, earning honorable mention All-ACC honors. Injuries plagued him throughout the 2016 season.

Louisville WR Jaylen Smith out for spring, and what Petrino wants Lamar Jackson to improve

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One of Louisville’s top returning wide receivers will be out for the spring. Jaylen Smith was one of two wide receivers ruled out for the spring by head coach Bobby Petrino on Monday.

Smith underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his foot. The timetable for his return to the team is unknown at this time, but it does not appear to be something Petrino is concerned about at this time with so much time before the start of the new season. It is not as though Smith had much to prove this spring anyway.

Smith caught 27 passes last season for 599 yards and six touchdowns. With seniors James Quick and Jamari Staples moving on, it is expected Smith will see a more significant role in the offense in 2017. The absence of Smith for the spring will leave room for other receivers to have some more passes thrown their way this spring, which is always a benefit to having a key player injured.

As for the man throwing those footballs to receivers, 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is not without some things to work on this spring either according to Petrino. One area Petrino wants Jackson to focus on is taking negative yardage. Jackson did run for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, so it is not as though things will not balance out in Louisville’s favor in 2017, but Jackson was limited to 33 rushing yards in two of his final three games against Houston and LSU. Houston sacked Jackson 11 times and LSU brought him down eight times in the Citrus Bowl.

Just think how dangerous Jackson will be if he does improve on what he did last season.

Alabama WR Raheem Falkins indicates he’s testing transfer waters

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It appears Alabama’s wide receiving corps will be thinning out prior to the start of spring practice.

On his Facebook page Wednesday, rising senior Raheem Falkins (pictured, No. 88) posted a photo of a letter he received from UA’s assistant director of compliance that grants other school permission to speak to the receiver regarding a potential transfer. The letter also indicates the restrictions that would be placed on any transfer.

In addition to any team in the SEC, Falkins would be barred from transferring to seven of UA’s eight nonconference opponents the next two seasons: Florida State, Fresno State, Colorado State, Louisville, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette and The Citadel. The only nonconference opponent to which the player would be permitted to transfer is FCS Mercer, which will travel to Tuscaloosa this season.

A three-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2013 recruiting class, Falkins was rated as the No. 50 receiver in the country and the No. 15 player at any position in the state of Louisiana. He never caught a pass during is time with the team, and was expected to be buried on the depth chart once again this season.

A desire for a better opportunity at playing time is believed to be the trigger for the transfer decision.

Sam Darnold becoming runaway favorite to win 2017 Heisman Trophy

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The 2017 college football season is a long way off, but that hasn’t stopped people from betting on who will win the 2017 Heisman Trophy.

Bovada released an updated odds sheet on Monday, and USC quarterback Sam Darnold has stepped away as the clear favorite to win the honor.

2016 winner Lamar Jackson and 2016 finalist Baker Mayfield are tied for second at 13/2 odds, followed by Alabama running back Bo Scarborough and Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Darnold finished the ’16 campaign ranked ninth nationally in passing efficiency, hitting 67.2 percent of his throws for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns against nine interceptions in 13 appearances (10 starts). He closed the year with a scintillating Rose Bowl performance, hitting 33-of-53 throws for 453 yards with five touchdowns against one interception in a 52-49 overtime win over Penn State.

One historical bullet point Darnold will have in his favor is that the clearest path to winning a Heisman comes from playing at a school with former Heisman winners. USC’s six previous winners trails only Notre Dame and Ohio State — the Trojans are tied if you count Reggie Bush‘s 2005 win — including Carson Palmer in 2002 and Matt Leinart in ’04.