The University of Louisville Football Team finished the 2011 season 2nd in Scoring Defense as well as 2nd in Total Defense in the Big East Conference. The Cardinals also finished 10th in the country in Rushing Defense holding eight teams under 100 yards rushing and four of them under 70 yards. Much of that was attributed to the defensive line as well as the linebacking corp with middle linebacker Dexter Heyman leading the team in total tackles and tackles for loss.
The Cardinal Football team is now just over a week into Fall Camp and some thoughts on the defensive front unit are starting to surface. The type of pressure on the opposing offensive line and quarterback that was achieved last season was too much credit of the front seven of Louisville’s defense. This upcoming season with the athleticism and experience available, coach Strong believes that things could go a little differently and mention was made of that at Louisville Football’s Media Day last week.
“Defensively, I was telling Coach Hurtt the other day ‘we’re just athletic at that position now, says,’ Coach Strong. “Looking at what we have inside with Brandon Dunn, Roy Philon and Jamaine Brooks, you have three big guys in there. Now, with Sheldon Rankins being a young guy and DeAngelo Brown, we have two young guys coming along to give us some added depth inside that we need. You have to be good down the middle. When you look at your football team, you have to be good down the middle. I always say it starts with the center, the quarterback, the nose guard, the middle linebacker and the free safety. You have to be good down the middle. If you are good down the middle, then you are going to have a chance to win a lot of football games. You look at the outside with B.J. Dubose, B.J. Butler, Mauldin, Mount, Marcus Smith, guys that are coming on at that position that are just athletic — athletic enough where you can go rush the passer. You can put pressure and you do not have to blitz every time. I told Vance maybe this can be the group. We are still young and we are still developing, but this may be the group of guys we can rush four and hope we can get pressure on the quarterback with those four guys.”
Do not take for granted that thought of rushing just four, getting pressure and giving the linebacking corp the chance to spy a guy like B.J. Daniels of South Florida or when an opponents pass play is evident, then having the opportunity to drop back into coverage. This unit finished near the top in many defensive categories for the 2011 season and I would expect even bigger and better with the added experience and athleticism of this unit. This team may go where its defense take it.