Louisville's Offensive Line Off to Good Start in 2020
In their first outing of the young season, Louisville's offense was off to yet another high-flying start in their 35-21 season opening win against Western Kentucky. Wide receivers Braden Smith & Dez Fitzpatrick had 100 yard days as both finished with 110 on four receptions and quarterback Micale Cunningham set a new career-high in passing yardage with 343.
A lot of this success was due to the effort and execution from the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, the Cardinals (1-0, 0-0 ACC) had the highest-graded offensive line in Week 2, with left guard Caleb Chandler carrying the third-highest grade amongst offensive lineman.
"I thought the guys came out and they played really hard," offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford said Tuesday. "I thought we played a very, very good defense. That was a defense with a lot of seniors on it."
Ledford was particularly impressed by how tackles Adonis Boone & Renato Brown handled themselves. Stepping into new roles following the departures of Mekhi Becton & Tyler Haycraft, they were tasked with facing WKU's high-caliber defensive end tandem in DeAngelo Malone & Juwaun Jones.
"It was good seeing Renato & Adonis out there early and just seeing those guys battle," he said. "I just thought it was really good to see the effort that the guys played with."
Coupled with the obvious efforts from Caleb Chandler and the flexibility that was provided by sixth-man Cam DeGeorge, Ledford believes that the guys up front "played as well or better than at any point that they did last year".
That being said, he knows that there is still more work to be done overall going forward. For example, Louisville could only muster 144 rushing yards against the Hilltoppers - well below their 212.8 average from a season ago.
"That's definitely not where we want it," senior center Cole Bentley said. "(WKU) was kind of worried about our run game. They were stacking the box - there was time where there'd be 8-9 people in there, and we're trying to run a play with five offensive linemen and a tight end blocking."
At the end of the day, however, these are only mild concerns just one game into an eleven game season. After a few more contests under their belt, Ledford believes the line will truly be able to find their groove
"It just takes games for those guys to be able to see the things that they need to see full speed," he said. "There more that we do that, the more comfortable some of these guys are going to feel, and our execution will be better."
No. 18 Louisville is set to host No. 17 Miami (1-0, 0-0 ACC) this weekend for their conference opener, with College GameDay also tagging along for the ride. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. on ABC.
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