<
>

Make-or-break position battle: Louisville

We’re breaking down the biggest fall-camp position battles in the ACC for each team. Here's a look at Louisville's, which has a pretty big one to sort out in the coming weeks.

Position battle: Quarterback

The candidates: Redshirt junior Will Gardner, sophomore Reggie Bonnafon, redshirt sophomore Kyle Bolin and freshman Lamar Jackson are vying to take the first snap Sept. 5 against Auburn.

The impact: The QB room has become less crowded this week, as redshirt junior Tyler Ferguson, a Penn State transfer, was granted his release, turning this into a four-man competition. Three of the remaining Cardinals players carry over starting experience from last season, none more than Gardner, who went 5-2 as the No. 1 signal-caller before suffering a left knee injury in a November win at Boston College, this after overcoming two ACL tears in his right knee. Bonnafon was his primary replacement, going 4-1 as a true freshman starter before he got hurt in the regular-season finale against Kentucky, leading to Bolin taking over and eventually starting against Georgia in the Belk Bowl loss. Jackson, meanwhile, was an ESPN three-star prospect whose strong arm and impressive speed have dazzled early in fall camp with the Cards, essentially allowing him to pass Ferguson and earn himself at least a long shot at starting in 2015.

The raw numbers for the returners? Gardner completed 57.5 percent of his throws for 1,669 yards with 12 TDs and three interceptions. Bonnafon completed 50.8 percent for 864 yards with five TDs and four picks. Bolin completed 57.7 percent for 716 yards with four TDs and three picks. Bonnafon, however, did provide a threat with his legs, rushing for 164 yards and five scores.

Prediction: Louisville is in no rush to name a starter, and Bobby Petrino knows that he has some capable guys on the roster, regardless of how things shake out. Gardner's response from another injury has been impressive, as he has pushed Bonnafon this month, despite Bonnafon's apparent advantage after going through the spring. (Gardner just returned for fall camp.) With three new starters on the offensive line, Bonnafon's mobility is a dimension that will probably work in his favor, as we predict he (barely) holds off Gardner and Bolin to take the first snap next month in Atlanta against the Tigers.