2012 report cards: Louisville

Time to hand out season grades for Louisville.

OFFENSE: This one starts and ends with Teddy Bridgewater, right? Bridgewater won Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors for his stellar sophomore season, as he threw for 3,718 yards, 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the season and ranked No. 8 in the nation in passing efficiency. His improved play was a big reason the Cardinals improved their offense in every way -- jumping from No. 103 in the nation in total offense to No. 52, averaging 88 more yards per game in 2012. They ranked No. 2 in the Big East in scoring offense -- averaging 10 more points per game -- after ranking last in the league a year ago. The Cards also ranked No. 1 in the league in passing offense and had one of the better offensive lines in the league, along with first-team Big East selection DeVante Parker. The running game was improved until Senorise Perry got hurt and Louisville struggled in that area for the final month of the season. But overall, Louisville was vastly improved on offense and one of the best groups in the league. GRADE: A.

DEFENSE: I think the word that best sums up this group in 2012: inconsistent. There were flashes of greatness, and then other flashes where you wondered what on earth was going on out there. Overall, this group was down from where it was a year ago. The front seven was not as strong, as Louisville struggled for most of the year to get pressure on the quarterback and slow down the run. It shows in the stats. Louisville ranked worse statistically in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense than it did a year ago. The Cards also had 11 fewer sacks than they did in 2011. The best part of the group was the secondary -- ranking No. 1 in the league in pass defense. You see why with terrific safeties Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor, and first-team Big East cornerback Adrian Bushell. Overall, Louisville was decent on defense, but far from elite. GRADE: B.

OVERALL: Louisville just completed one of the best seasons in school history, so it is hard to find fault -- even with two losses, one that was pretty inexcusable. The Cardinals set a school record with their first ever 9-0 start; they made it to No. 9 in the rankings; they won at least a share of their second straight Big East title; they appeared in their second BCS game; and they whopped up on No. 3 Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Oh, and they were able to keep rising star Charlie Strong for at least another season. Were there some "cardiac" moments? Yes. Were there some letdowns? Yes. But Louisville met expectations this year, representing the Big East in the BCS after being named the preseason favorite. Easy grade to hand out here. GRADE: A.

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