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Scouting Report: Louisville on deck for Auburn’s season-opener Saturday at Georgia Dome

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

FILE - In this April 17, 2015, file photo, Louisville head football coach Bobby Petrino, right, talks over a play call with quarterback Reggie Bonnafon (7) during the annual spring football scrimmage game at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky. Having two solid quarterbacks is a good problem to have at first glance, but the task for Louisville coach Bobby Petrino as camp opens in Year 2 is deciding between Reggie Bonnafon and Kyle Bolin and establishing offensive consistency..
FILE - In this April 17, 2015, file photo, Louisville head football coach Bobby Petrino, right, talks over a play call with quarterback Reggie Bonnafon (7) during the annual spring football scrimmage game at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky. Having two solid quarterbacks is a good problem to have at first glance, but the task for Louisville coach Bobby Petrino as camp opens in Year 2 is deciding between Reggie Bonnafon and Kyle Bolin and establishing offensive consistency.. AP Photo

Week 1 Opponent: Louisville Cardinals

When: Sept. 5 at Georgia Dome (3:30 p.m.)

Coach: Bobby Petrino (92-34 all-time; 50-13 at Louisville)

Last year’s record: 9-4; 5-3 ACC (Belk Bowl 37-14 loss)

Key returners: RB Brandon Radcliff (Jr.); WR James Quick (Jr.); LB James Burgess (Sr.); LB Keith Kelsey (Jr.); DT Sheldon Rankins (Sr.)

Key losses: WR DeVante Parker; TE Gerald Christian; OL Jamon Brown; OL John Miller; DL B.J Dubose; LB Lorenzo Mauldin; LB Delontrez Mount; FS Gerod Hollman; SS James Sample

Series history: 1-0 Auburn

Key stats: Louisville’s defense tied for most interceptions in the nation (26); and had the sixth best overall team defense (308.5 yards allowed per game) with a top 10 rushing defense (108.9 yards allowed per game).

Betting line: Auburn -10.5

Four of a kind -- Louisville opened the spring with four quarterbacks competing for the starting job. The Cardinals enter the final week of preparation for the season opener with four quarterbacks still competing for the starting spot. Coach Bobby Petrino has praised all four signal callers -- Reggie Bonnafon, Kyle Bolin, Will Gardner and Lamar Jackson -- and has hinted he might not announce a decision until game day. Bonnafon, Bolin and Gardner all played, and started at least one game last season. Gardner threw for 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns in six starts, but lost the starting job due to an injury. The 6-foot-3, 196-pound Jackson is a true freshman out of Florida. Auburn recruited the dual-threat quarterback, who also had offers from Georgia, Florida State, Ohio State and Florida.

Sack Attack -- The Cardinals bring back two of their top three pass rushers this season in Sheldon Rankins (eight sacks last season); and Keith Kelsey (six sacks). Rankins also led the team last season with 13.5 tackles for loss. An intriguing addition for the defense, is former TCU defensive end DeVonte Fields. Fields is a former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, who had 10 sacks as a freshman. The Horned Frogs dismissed him from their team two years ago due to a misdemeanor assault charge. He spent a year playing at a Texas junior college before getting cleared to for Louisville earlier this summer.

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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