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Louisville defense looks ‘Cardinal strong’

By on September 22, 2013
Photo by Michelle Lewis

By Sam Draut

Though Heisman candidate Teddy Bridgewater has headlined the first four games for the Louisville

football team, the Cardinal defense has quietly dominated.

Through four games, the U of L defense is allowing just 6.8 points per game compared to 23.8 points per

game in 2012.

The defense’s stingiest effort came against FIU, where the U of L defense allowed 30 yards of total

offense and two first downs, leading to the first shutout since 2010.

FIU was held to three rushing yards, bringing the opponents average rushing yards to 88.2 yards per

game.

“We’re tackling better, last year at this time we were giving up a lot of big plays in the run game, and

when you give up big plays in the run game you aren’t going to be as good as you’d like to be,” Vance

Bedford said.

The veteran front four comprised of Brandon Dunn, Roy Philon, Marcus Smith, and Lorenzo Mauldin

have controlled the line of scrimmage, opening up holes for the linebackers and the secondary.

Louisville has recorded 11 sacks this season, half of what the Cardinals recorded in 13 games in 2012.

Mauldin leads the team with four sacks.

“Whenever you can do great things up front like those guys did, it makes a huge difference, Brandon

Dunn is really playing good football right now, he’s keeping guys off our linebackers,” Bedford said.

Though the Cardinals have yet to enter into the meat of their conference schedule, they have 10 starters

returning from their 5-2 conference run last year.

“We’re a junior/senior ball club, so those guys make adjustments, and if something bad happens they

don’t drop their head anymore,” Bedford said.

Preston Brown leads the team with 28 tackles and the safety tandem of Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor

has combined for 31 tackles and two interceptions.

Despite the heavy amount of upperclassmen, a group of younger linebackers have been able to shine

this year.

Sophomore James Burgess is second on the team with 25 tackles, while freshman Keith Kelsey has

added 13.

2012 Freshman All-American Keith Brown is also being added back to the mix after recovering from a

knee injury.

“He is starting to get into shape, you see some good things out there,” Bedford said.

Another telling statistic that illuminates the Cardinals efficiency is opponents third down conversion

percentage. Opponents are 11 of 54 for 20% on third downs this year, leading to the defense’s ability to

get off the field.

“When you have a veteran football team they take charge and do things by themselves,” Bedford said.

 

Photo by Michelle Lewis

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