As Bobby Petrino gets set to lead the Louisville Cardinals into the ACC in 2014, you can bet that the Cards will be throwing the ball a ton this fall. While that’s good news for the team’s leading returning receiver DeVante Parker, there will undoubtedly be more opportunities for to spread around in this offense. Could tight end Gerald Christian seize an expanded role and become a featured part of the offense in 2014?
The former Florida Gators transfer stepped into the starting lineup for Louisville last season and was one of their more productive pass catchers. He finished the season fourth on the team with 28 receptions for 426 yards and four touchdowns. His 15.21 yards per reception were second on the team among receivers with at least 20 receptions behind only Parker who averaged 16.09 yards per catch.
With a new head coach who likes to spread it out on offense and the team breaking in a new quarterback under center, Christian figures to be a much bigger part of the offense going forward. At 6-foot-3, 242 pounds, the senior has the size to mix it up on the line of scrimmage and the athleticism to be a matchup problem for linebackers across the middle. Providing a physical presence in the passing game in the middle of the field could be a huge boost to the Cardinals’ offense this season.
For Louisville to find success under Petrino in the ACC, they will have to find multiple weapons in the passing game to open up the offense. While Parker is already an elite playmaker on the outside, having Gerald Christian emerge in the middle of the field will be a huge key to quick success for the Cardinals in 2014.
The Louisville Cardinals have made a lot of changes since they last took the field during the Russell Athletic Bowl. They are making the move to the ACC with a new coach and a new quarterback to break in for the 2014 season, making Louisville a serious mystery heading into next season. But despite all those changes, the Cardinals should have a smooth transition, at least offensively, thanks to the elite talents of wide receiver DeVante Parker.
Parker is an explosive playmaker and a smooth athlete who isn’t afraid to go up and get the ball in the air while still possessing the speed and athleticism to make defenders miss after the catch. Last season, he led the Cardinals passing attack with 885 yards receiving on 55 receptions (averaging 16.09 yards per catch) with 12 touchdowns. He was a favorite target for former quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and is a clear leader on this team heading into 2014.
But with Bridgewater gone, there are concerns about Parker’s production with Will Gardner now under center. Parker obviously won’t have the same chemistry with Gardner as he did with Bridgewater and the young, untested quarterback will be thrown into the deep end with a new offensive system to learn. As he works to get his feet underneath him, there’s no telling which receiver he’ll gravitate towards and lean on in big situations.
Parker, however, isn’t going to become an afterthought for Louisville this season. New head coach Bobby Petrino is going to open up the offense and throw the ball a ton in 2014, utilizing the athletic talents of his receivers in all kinds of ways. That will give Parker every opportunity to show what he can do in this offense and earn more touches as the year goes along.
DeVante Parker has the talent to be one of the best receivers in the country this season. That talent will be vital to Louisville as they make a major transition this fall and be a major factor in how far the Cardinals go in 2014.