Louisville's Defensive Line Depth Slowly Shaping Into Form in Fall Camp
A season ago, it's no surprise which side of the ball struggled the most for the Louisville Cardinals. They featured an offense that was among the most explosive in the nation, but a defensive that gave up more points than what the offense scored.
As with any football program, it all starts at the line of scrimmage - and Louisville struggled there for most of the year. The Cards averaged just 2.08 sacks and 6.0 tackles per loss a game, both of which ranked at twelfth in the ACC.
It wasn't due to lack of effort from the starters, as nose tackle GG Robinson and defensive end Amonte Caban both ranked in the top five on the team in tackles for loss and quarterback hurries. What hurt Louisville was their lack of depth at that position, as with most of the defense in general.
With the Cardinals losing both Robinson & Caban this past offseason due to graduation, one would think that Louisville is due for a step back in production at that spot.
However thanks to the depth that has been developed at that spot since last year, defensive line coach Mark Ivey thinks Louisville is in much better shape.
"We're getting a lot closer with what we'd like to do up front," Ivey said in a teleconference with reporters Saturday. His coaching style revolves heavily around rotating players in and out to keep everyone fresh throughout the game and season.
"We don't want those guys in there for 70-80 reps a game because that's not what their bodies are built for," he said. "Their' bodies are built for speed and explosion - so therefore we want those reps divided."
Ivey notes that Louisville's three preseason starters on the line - NT Jared Goldwire and DEs Tabarius Peterson & Dayna Kinnard - are "doing fantastic" but that they won't hold up all season if the load is placed squarely on them. That being said, he believes the twos and threes on the depth chart are really starting to step up.
"Ramon Puryear is a guy who's really starting to shine and doing a fantastic job. Malik Clark has done a great job throughout summer and camp and all that kinda good stuff. Derek Dorsey is a guy that had a really good seven days of spring ball ... and he's continued into camp," he said.
He also notes the freshmen newcomers Ja'Darien Boykin, Henry Bryant and Dezmond Tell have all stood out in camp as well.
"Those are three really talented young kids no doubt," he said.
Something that also helps the program out is the amount of both scholarship & quality walk-on players currently on the roster that will help Ivey out with the scout team.
"We're gonna be better equipped to train a group of guys that can go train on Saturday afternoon," Ivey said. "That's how you're gonna win in the long run."
Ivey notes that while he believes the program isn't much deeper at this time than they were during their Music City Bowl win over Mississippi State last year, they will be by the start of the 2020 season.
"By the time we get to game one - especially by midseason - we will be," he said. "We'll have three that I can send out comfortably, possibly four at some of those position. We'll see.
Saturday concludes the first week of fall camp, with Louisville set to kickoff the season against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Saturday, Sept. 12 at Cardinal Stadium.
You can follow us for future coverage by clicking "Follow" on the top righthand corner of the page. Also be sure to like us on Facebook & Twitter:
Facebook - @LouisvilleOnSI