5 things to watch for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game

By on September 5, 2015

By Sam Draut–

Five story lines for Louisville’s season opener today against sixth-ranked Auburn at 3:30:

Pick four: The continuing question throughout the off-season is who will start at quarterback for the Cardinals. Petrino said before fall camp that he would like to select a quarterback two weeks before the game, but he never announced a decision. On Monday, Petrino said he knew the starting quarterback for his team, but he wouldn’t announce it. The open competition has been between Reggie Bonnafon, Will Gardner, Kyle Bolin and Lamar Jackson. Unless the starting quarterback plays well, Petrino could very well send out multiple players during the game. Whoever the starting quarterback is, becoming comfortable within the first few possessions will be critical for the offense.

Louisville’s offensive line vs. Auburn’s defensive line: After losing three starters from last year’s offensive line, the Cardinals have completely remade their offensive line. Louisville released their depth chart on Tuesday, but it did little to clarify the five spots with “OR” listed at every position. Kenny Thomas and Geron Christian, two true freshman, could trot out with the first team unit. On the opposite side of the ball, Auburn’s front four has size and talent across the board. Former five-star defensive end Byron Cowart will come off the edge to pressure Louisville’s quarterbacks. Whether it is establishing the running game or protecting the passer, the battle between the two lines will define the game.

Three transfers: A core component of Louisville’s defense will be Georgia transfers Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaq Wiggins and former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year DeVonte Fields. All three are playing their first game in a Cardinal uniform, but they should have a big impact on the game if Louisville can pull off the upset over sixth-ranked Auburn.

Front seven: Louisville’s front seven is the strength of the defense, and head coach Bobby Petrino has openly admitted it. Led by All-ACC selections Sheldon Rankins and James Burgess, the front seven will have the task of disrupting Auburn’s running game and quarterback Jeremy Johnson’s timing. Keith Kelsey, DeAngelo Brown, Keith Brown and Pio Vatuvei have made big plays in their careers, so another tremendous effort from the defensive line and linebackers core will be a key component in Louisville’s 3-4 scheme.

Bobby Petrino: The head coach is 10-0 in season openers. Petrino is known for having a flair for the dramatics, so scripting out the first 10 plays or pulling out a few different looks shouldn’t be out of the question.

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