Louisville's secondary is second to no competitor
By Xavier Bleuel
Bringing back all-but one starter, the defensive backfield looks to improve on a relatively successful
season, finishing 17th in the nation against the pass. What’s more is the Cards finished 77th in sacks,
so for the lack of pressure on the quarterbacks last season, the secondary performed well.
With an improving defensive line, the secondary looks to improve as-well. The leaders of the unit are
the Bednarik and Jim Thorpe Award watch list safety tandem Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor. The
cornerback position is up for grabs with two year starter Adrian Bushell gone to the NFL, junior-trio
Andrew Johnson, Stephan Robinson and Terell Floyd, in addition to sophomore Charles Gaines, vie
for playing time.
Smith is striving to become just the second Louisville football player to bring in all-conference
honors for four-straight seasons, as a second-team all-Big East selection last year, the strong-safety
tallied 73 tackles; finishing third on the team. Smith has been Mr. Reliable for the Cardinals in the
secondary, recording 38 career starts and owns a string of 37 straight and totaling 245 tackles.
Pryor showcased his physical and punishing style of play with a career-best 100 tackles and a teambest five forced fumbles last season. He also recorded five pass break-ups, two interceptions, a sack
and a fumble recovery.
The safety position, barring injury, is locked-down. However sophomores Jermaine Reve and Gerod
Holliman look to vie for playing time. Holliman is a former Army All-American who played in three
games and record two tackles last season. As a freshman last year, Reve finished with 32 tackles, a
sack, and four-and-a-half tackles for loss.
Johnson and Floyd are slated to start, but will be pushed by former wide receiver Gaines, Robinson,
and redshirt freshman Kevin Houchins.
Johnson isn’t considered the strongest nor fastest defender, but his reliability and great ball-skills has
led him to become the leader of the cornerback position.
Floyd has come a long way since arriving on campus three years ago. He started three games his
freshman year, while appearing in 12 games. He was inconsistent at times, but now has blossomed
into a solid corner, posting a team high three interceptions in 2012.
The sleeper in this group is Gaines; he was recruited as a wide-out, but moved to the cornerback
position when he arrived on campus because of lack-of-depth. Gaines moved back to receiver last
season, but has found a spot on defense.
“Right now he has a wide receiver mentality,” fourth year Defensive Coordinator Vance Bedford said.
“He won’t tackle somebody. Right now I’m not sure what he’s going to do. He has the skill set. He is
a 6-foot guy that has good ball skills and runs a 4.5 forty, but if he doesn’t want to hit somebody his
jersey is going to be real clean because he’ll be on the side line next to me.”