Increased Competition in Fall Camp Showcases Numerous Defensive Standouts
The Louisville Cardinals are only three days into the 2020 edition of fall camp, but the program has already accomplished a lot during that short amount of time.
While they have yet to conduct a scrimmage and COVID-19 has limited the amount of 11-on-11 reps taken thus far, that isn't stopping the players from giving it their all when stepping on the practice fields.
Defensive coordinator Bryan Brown says that even in just three days, the competition amongst the units he oversees has been off the charts and is much better than his first fall camp with the Cardinals last year.
"We're competing our butts off on both sides of the ball, but defensively that the one thing I see," Brown said in a teleconference with reporters Thursday following practice. "Guys competing and punching the ball, they're competing their butts off - and that's what we look for."
Brown notes that fall camp has been rife with defensive positional battles. In fact, when asked who has stood out during practice, the second-year defensive coordinator listed numerous guys at each level.
On the defensive line, he specifically singles out senior defensive tackle Jared Goldwire and redshirt senior defensive end Tabarius Peterson. He commends both for having good starts to camps, especially Peterson for his leadership abilities.
"That's what we need for those guys up front - to be able to stop the run as well as be able to rush the passer," Brown said.
Moving on the linebacker corps, and of course the usual suspects get named here. Brown thinks that inside backers CJ Avery and Dorian Etheridge have All-ACC potential, as well as outside man Rodjay Burns.
But as far as camp standout at linebacker, Brown actually chooses redshirt junior outside linebacker Nick Okeke and says that he has had an "unbelievable camp".
"He looks totally different," Brown said. "I think just being the second year in the system is helping, and that's what you see. You see a lot of confidence in these guys to be able to make some plays, and right now they're making them."
Then finally onto the secondary. Brown first touches upon the back end safeties, noting that Isaiah Hayes is "really making some plays" while also being excited to see Russ Yeast nearly 100% recovered from his leg injury in 2019.
While Chandler Jones, Anthony Johnson & Marlon Character are performing well in camp as far as cornerbacks go, Brown says that the "bright spot" of the group is sophomore Liberty transfer Kei'Trel Clark.
"He's had a couple interceptions within the first couple of days, a lot of (pass breakups)," Brown said. "He's a quick corner that loves competing and loves to be in tight coverage."
Louisville will continue fall camp with their fourth practice on Friday at 9:30am EST. The Cards will kickoff the season against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Saturday, Sept. 12 at Cardinal Stadium.
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