The Louisville Cardinals are preparing for the 2013 season where they will face the highest expectations they have faced in the history of their program. Many feel that anything less than an undefeated slate next fall would be a disappointment as the Cardinals return a ton of starters, including a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and face a schedule that is tissue-paper soft. But if Louisville really hopes to be perfect in 2013, it rests on the return of running back Dominique Brown in the backfield.
Brown had a promising sophomore year in 2011 before missing all of 2012 with a torn MCL. Two seasons ago, Brown finished second on the team in rushing, gaining 533 yards and scoring four touchdowns. It appeared like he was poised to step into the No. 1 running back role last season, but the injury to his knee kept him from fulfilling that expectation and opened the door for juniors Jeremy Wright and Sonorise Perry to flourish as the Cardinals running game improved.
This spring, however, Brown is back 100 percent and took full advantage of a depleted backfield. Perry is recovering from an ACL injury he suffered late in the 2012 season and Wright is no longer enrolled in classes, so head coach Charlie Strong turned to Brown to take the bulk of the carries this spring with the No. 1 offense. Brown responded, securing the starting spot in the spring game and gaining 79 yards with two touchdowns on just nine carries.
For the Cardinals to flourish in 2013, they need their running game to give their offense balance and create opportunities for Bridgewater with the play-action pass. With a clean bill of health, Dominique Brown will lead that running game and pave the way for Louisville to roll through the Big East one last time.