2009 Louisville Football Positional Preview: Running Backs

straitpinkieCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2009

PISCATAWAY, NJ - DECEMBER 04: Victor Anderson #20 of the Louisville Cardinals runs the ball against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Stadium on December 4, 2008 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

There is little doubt the strength of the 2009 Louisville Cardinals football team is the running backs.

Featuring the 2008 Big East Rookie of the Year Vic Anderson, the Cardinals have a stable of backs who posses great speed, good pass blocking ability, and fantastic hands which allows them to catch the ball out of the backfield.

The featured back will be Louisville St. Xavier alum Victor Anderson.

In 2008, Anderson rushed for 1,047 yards, the first Louisville running back to do so since some guy named Michael Bush accomplished that in 2005.

Anderson did not just pile up yards, he also found the endzone on eight occasions, including a highlight reel juke of a UCONN defender on a TD reception.


Vic breaking for daylight, which I expect to see many times

Even though Anderson is not the biggest back, only 5-9 190 lbs, he showed his willingness to take on a blitzing linebacker and stop him from sacking the quarterback.

A lot of running backs just try to get in the way of a rushing defender, Anderson attempts to hit the rushing defender and with authority.

The Louisville coaching staff plans on Anderson being the primary ball handler, with the hopes he can carry the ball 20-25 times a game, but if not, the coaching staff has complete confidence in Vic’s counterparts on the roster. 

The other running back I’m very excited about is redshirt freshman Darius Ashley.

Ashley, no. 8, could be the big breakout star for the Cardinals this season

Ashley, no. 8, could be the big breakout star for the Cardinals

The Cincinnati St. X product was the “big get” of Kragthorpe’s 2008 recruiting class and after sitting out a year, Darius will now get the chance to show what he can do.

The talk out of the football building is Ashley will be one of those special players before he leaves, and there are many things to like about him.

While only 5-8 and in the 185-190 lbs range, Ashley is built like a rock.

The man has around 5% body fat, at worst.

He does not  posses blazing speed, but he has good speed and great feet. Like all the Louisville running backs, he is very skilled at catching the ball out of the backfield, which is a necessary option for the quarterback if the receivers fail to get open.

I am very excited about Darius Ashley, but that’s not to say he won’t struggle at times.

As a redshirt freshman, Ashley has not played a single down of Division 1 college football, therefore there will be an adjustment period.

With not having played a singe down yet, we do not know how he will handle live, in game situations involving pass blocking.

From everything I have heard out of the football offices, Ashley’s pass blocking is not a concern, but it is still different when a 240 lb linebacker is bearing down on you at full speed.

The other primary backup to Vic Anderson will be junior Bilal Powell.

Powell is the biggest Louisville tailback at 6-0 and around 220 lbs.

During an injury plagued 2008 season, Powell rushed for 354 yards and 2 TDs. Powell, when healthy, has the special ability to make defenders miss in tight space.

Besides health, the main concern for Powell is sometimes it appears it takes him a few steps to hit full speed, therefore he is susceptible to getting stopped behind the line or for no gain.

Another result of not being full speed upon receipt of the football is he does not hit the hole in the line very hard and again, that leads to getting stopped behind the line or for no gain. However, there is no doubt Powell has the ability and he will definitely see carries this season.

Bilal diving over the line for a TD against West Virginia

Bilal diving over the line for a TD against West Virginia

At the fullback position, Louisville is set with Louisville St. Xavier product Joe Tronzo.

Its very simple with Tronzo, he has no neck and will hit you, hard.

Tronzo is a tough son of a gun and one of the leaders of this football team.

Like most fullbacks, he does not get a lot of carries, but he gets a lot of pleasure out of knocking the snot out of a defender while his tailback carries the ball into the endzone.

Tronzo is one of those guys you cannot help but like on the football field.

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