The Louisville Cardinals are entering their second year in the ACC after a pretty strong debut in 2014, finishing 9-4. Now, they’re going to try and make a push for a conference title in 2015 and taking the next step as a program, which many believe will rely on the playmaking ability of quarterback Reggie Bonnafon. But if the young signal caller hopes to emerge on top in the Cardinals’ QB derby, he will have to show improved consistency in fall camp.
As a freshman in 2014, Bonnafon flashed a special playmaking ability at times, throwing for 864 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 164 yards and another five touchdowns while seeing action in 10 games. His best game arguably came on the road late in the season against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish when he accounted for 215 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in a 31-28 win. It was the type of signature win that the Cardinals hope to see more of from Bonnafon as he continues to develop.
But the issue for the sophomore quarterback is getting him to consistently be productive under center. He completed just 50.8 percent of his passes and finished with four interceptions. Even in his big win over Notre Dame, he struggled to connect with his receivers, completing just 8-of-21 passes (38.1 percent) and against the Clemson Tigers, he went jut 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) as the team fell 23-17. That sporadic production is a major reason why Bonnafon hasn’t run away with this competition already.
As a result, Bonnafon is locked into a heated competition with junior Will Gardner and sophomore Kyle Bolin to secure the No. 1 quarterback job heading into the 2015 season. Gardner was the starter for most of last season, throwing for 1,669 yards with 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing 57.5 percent of his passes. Injuries limited him to just eight games, however, and gave Bolin a chance to see some action. In four game appearances, Bolin completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 716 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. In his limited action, the young Bolin actually led the team with a 9.2 yards per attempt average and a quarterback rating of 144.02.
Reggie Bonnafon brings a lot to the table as a quarterback both with his arm and his legs. His athleticism gives him a higher ceiling than the other contenders for the Louisville quarterback job and makes him a potential star under center for the Cardinals. For him to take control of this team, though, Bobby Petrino will need to be able to trust him in every situation and that will only happen if the young QB can sharpen his approach and bring greater consistency to the offense this season. Is Bonnafon ready to be the quarterback that will lead Louisville to the top of the ACC?