I’d say that Scott Long’s misstep on Monday is one of the three or four worst injuries that the University of Louisville football team could have sustained. Fortunately for the Cardinals, Long shouldn’t be too long on the sidelines, though anytime a wideout has foot surgery, you never really know the timetable.
Let’s put this into perspective. U of L’s top returning pass catcher from last season is now Brock Bolen — a fullback. It’s No. 2 returning pass catcher from last season, Sergio Spencer, is playing defense.
This really puts pressure on Chris Vaughn to come in and produce, which is exactly the situation U of L didn’t want for Vaughn, who figured to stand a better chance if he could play off of Long on the other side of the field. Look now for sophomore Doug Beaumont to become even more important in the passing game, and look for the Cardinal passing game to now resemble even more the University of Kentucky’s.
The best bet for U of L may be to throw more to its backs, with guys like Bilal Powell and Victor Anderson, who are dangerous in the open field.
It just has to be a frustrating position for U of L head coach Steve Kragthorpe and offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm. The Cardinals have a quarterback with a cannon in Hunter Cantwell, but now have lost their best deep threat receiver. Some might say their only proven deep threat, in fact.
And for a program that has been well stocked at tight end for as long as I can remember (Gary Barnidge, Scott Kuhn, Ronnie Ghent, Richard Owens, Ibn Green) they don’t have a go-to player fthere or the first time in a while, either, though they’ve got several guys who could develop in the role quickly, and may have to.
For that matter, it’s the first time in recent memory that a program usually rich in wide receiver talent has been so green at this position. The last season even resembling this was Dave Ragone’s senior season of 2002, when the top returning wideout was Damien Dorsey, and young guys like Joshua Tinch, Ghent and J.R. Russell were just developing. Still, that group had caught 64 passes the previous season. U of L’s available wideouts and tight ends for the opener against UK next week caught a total of two passes last season — both by Vaughn.
It’s just another bad injury break for the Cardinals, who have had their share over the past year. It’s one element of the story that sometimes gets overlooked. Peanut Whitehead, Marcel Benson, Mike O’Donoghue, Michael Adams. It’s a significant list. Long’s injury isn’t as bad as those, but it comes at a bad time and in a bad position.