AN OPPOSING VIEW
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jeff Greer is not a very old sports journalist, but he’s a very experienced one.
The native New Englander has worked at USA Today, the Washington Post, the Palm Beach Post, the Indianapolis Star and The Sporting News, among others. But as of right now, he covers the Louisville Cardinals for the Louisville Courier-Journal, and that’s why we’re interacting with him today.
Jeff agreed to participate in our weekly in-season feature, “Opposing View,” to answer some questions about Georgia’s opponent and give us a little insight about what we may see in Tuesday’s Belk Bowl matchup against the Cardinals. I would highly recommend following Jeff on his Twitter account — @JeffGreer_CJ — and you can read his stories and all the other fine reports on Louisville on the CJ webpage dedicated to the Cards on THIS LINK.
Or, you can just read what he has to say here and be done with it. Your choice. And, if you’re so inclined, I’ve done the same kind of thing for him on Georgia if you want to track that down. So, about those Cardinals …
1. Best you can tell, Jeff, what would you say is the level of enthusiasm for Louisville’s team and/or fans for this bowl and drawing Georgia” Excited by opportunity, dreading it, confident about victory, etc.?
Greer: “Louisville, more than any other program I’ve been around, really seems to get fired up for bowl games, regardless of the bowl’s stature. The past three years, though, Louisville’s been paired with brand-name opponents, which is more than enough to excite a fan base constantly searching for national recognition. Tuesday represents a second chance in three years to beat one of the big-name SEC teams in a bowl game.”
2. Who do expect to play quarterback for the Cardinals on Tuesday?
Greer: “If he’s fully healthy, I’m leaning toward Reggie Bonnafon. There will be fierce competition to be Louisville’s starting quarterback next year, but for now, Bonnafon appears to be the guy Bobby Petrino and his staff want at the helm. Every report from practice last week — I was back in Kentucky to cover the annual Louisville-Kentucky basketball rivalry game — sounded like Bonnafon would be ready to go.”
3. How does the loss of RB Michael Dyer impact the game/offense?
Greer: “Believe it or not, that’s the one position, even more than quarterback, where I don’t think a loss like that will hurt Louisville all that much. When he was healthy this season, Dyer was explosive, fast and powerful, and he had huge games against NC State and FSU. But Louisville’s had three other guys run for 100 rushing yards or more in a game this season, and redshirt sophomore Brandon Radcliff’s had sustained success throughout the season. If anything, Dyer’s departure just means more carries for Radcliff, who is a similarly built back.”
4. What have you been able to gauge about the Grantham factor with regard to facing Georgia less than a year after bolting for more money and security with Petrino?
Greer: “He’s been pretty insistent that he doesn’t care all that much about it. I’m not sure I buy that entirely, but that’s been his approach. His players say this game means a lot to him. I know there was a significant portion of the UGA fan base that was happy to see him leave, and I’m certain he knows about all of that, too.”
5. What are the matchups you believe clearly favor the Cardinals? Georgia?
Greer: “DeVante Parker is one of the top two receivers in the country, so regardless of which UGA defensive back covers him, Parker has the advantage there. Louisville’s offense has looked completely different since his return back on Oct. 18 from a foot injury. He is a first-round NFL draft talent, and he opens things up for the rest of Louisville’s offense, especially the running game. Lorenzo Mauldin and Sheldon Rankins have been fantastic pass rushers, so they’ll do their damage.
“On the flipside, I’m very intrigued by the Nick Chubb/UGA O-line vs. U of L’s rush defense matchup. Louisville’s ranked third in the nation in rush D, and we all know how talented Chubb is. That’s a great pairing. I’d think UGA will have an advantage in its pass rush. Louisville’s O-line has been inconsistent all season.”
GREER’S PREDICTION: “Like I said above, Louisville’s always really fired up for bowl games, so we can’t discount motivation levels, but you have to favor Georgia. I’ve picked the Bulldogs all along, and I’m sticking with that. I’ll take UGA by a touchdown.”