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Louisville Quarterback Will Gardner is OUT vs. Wake Forest - Reggie Bonnafon Will Start

Wake Forest will not be the only team starting a true freshman on Saturday afternoon. Is it a good thing for Wake Forest that Will Gardner is out?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville head football coach Bobby Petrino announced on Thursday afternoon that starting quarterback Will Gardner has officially been ruled out for Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game against Wake Forest. In his place will be true freshman Reggie Bonnafon, who has already seen some action this season. Typically it's good when the opposition loses its starting quarterback, but is this injury a good thing for Wake Forest's defense. I don't think so.

Will Gardner, by most objective measures has been about an average quarterback this season. He has completed 63 of his 112 passing attempts, which is good for just 56.3%. Against Virginia, he was an embarrassing 14 for 34 (41.2%) for just 164 yards. Virginia has a good defense, but they are better at rush defense than pass defense. Gardner is also no threat to run; on the season he has 16 attempts for -72 rushing yards. In college sacks count as rushing attempts and yards, but he's clearly not a dual-threat.

Bonnafon appears to be the man Louisville fans are asking to see more of, and on Saturday they will get their wish. The remainder of the paragraph will involve some #smallsamplesizes that shouldn't necessarily be extrapolated, but let's go for it anyway. Bonnafon has played against both Murray State and Virginia, and in those games has completed 14 of 20 passing attempts (70%) for 151 yards, which is good for 7.6 yards per attempt. Admittedly, those statistics are skewed by his 10.2 yards/attempt against Murray State. He is also somewhat of a dual-threat on the season, as he has 6 carries for 21 yards, including two scores. Given that Louisville's offensive line has been having issues, it's probably a good thing for the Cardinals that they will have a more mobile quarterback in the pocket, who could potentially break open a run, or at least evade the initial pass rush.

In the end this may not matter given the large spread (21 points), but this is probably more harmful than helpful to the Wake Forest defense.