The Louisville Cardinals enjoyed a mildly successful transition to the ACC in 2014 in Bobby Petrino‘s first season back at the helm. But for the Cardinals to take the next step and unlock the full potential of a Petrino-led offense. 2015 should bring them very close to doing just that as Reggie Bonnafon emerges as the top quarterback in the ACC.
As a freshman in 2014, Bonnafon was pushed into the starting lineup earlier than he should have been and showed some serious growing pains as he tried to find his footing in the offense. Injuries and a revolving-door at quarterback really hampered any chance the young signal caller had of building some momentum and he finished the year completing just 61 of 120 pass attempts (50.8%) for 864 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions. He utilized his athleticism to make some plays with his legs, rushing for 164 yards (though he averaged just 2.28 yards per carry) and scoring five touchdowns on the ground.
This spring, however, Bonnafon has shown tremendous growth in the offense as he has a clean bill of health and a deeper understanding of the offensive philosophy. He has looked much more comfortable in the pocket with improved footwork and timing in addition to showing a willingness to push the ball down the field as he has became more acclimated to reading defenses. A confident quarterback that can stretch the field vertically in the passing game is a staple of a Petrino-quarterback and Bonnafon is looking ready to fit that model in 2015.
When you add in his ability to make plays with his legs, Bonnafon could easily become the most versatile quarterback that Petrino has ever coached. That versatility will set the sophomore apart from the pack in the ACC and give the Cardinals a serious advantage in the race for the conference championship. With some of the ACC’s top contenders going through transitions at quarterback themselves, the door is open for Bonnafon to make a name for himself this fall.
With Bonnafon playing up to his potential in 2015, the sky is the limit for the Louisville Cardinals. His emergence as an elite quarterback this fall will catapult Louisville into the thick of the ACC title hunt and a possible slot in the College Football Playoff. Can the sophomore stand tall in the spotlight this season?