By Noah Allison–
Entering the second half of the season and heading into the thick of conference play, the Cardinals are going to have to step up their game from the bottom to the top. A championship-bound team has to have a championship-caliber defense, and one of the most important players in making that a reality for U of L is red shirt senior cornerback, Adrian Bushell.
Bushell has been locking down opposing wide receivers all year long, a part of a defense that has yet to live up to coaches’ expectations but hasn’t failed to make a play when needed.
“We’ve been knocking the rust off and getting into the groove of the season and just making things work,” Bushell said. “Nobody is going to lay down for you. You have to go out and do it every snap.”
Bushell, who has been playing football since he was four years old, approaches these last games with the mentality and experience of a senior who has had a long journey.
“This season means a lot to me; it’s a chance to go out and accomplish my goals and try and win a championship—a conference championship,” Bushell said.
Bushell first played under head coach Charlie Strong at Florida, where Strong was defensive coordinator from 2003-2009. Not long after Strong became the head coach of U of L, a young Adrian Bushell followed him, transferring after his sophomore season and bringing with him the knowledge and tenacity of Strong’s nation-leading SEC defense.
“A lot of coming here had to do with Coach Strong. Coming from Florida, I was already familiar with everything he was about, so it was a smooth transition with all the play calling being similar,” Bushell said. “Being there taught me how to practice hard and how to lead by example. You know coming out here is a grind, and people don’t feel like it everyday, so you have to come out here and lead by example. You have to work hard.”
Being one of the few seniors on defense, Bushell plays not only an important role as a key playmaker but as a key teammate.
“I need to bring the young guys along with me. On a team with about nine or ten seniors, I just have to make sure that everybody is on the same page,” Bushell said. “I have to keep everybody calm, keep everybody’s head in the game. You have to make sure you’re not out there busting coverages and missing assignments.”
For Adrian Bushell, college football has been a journey, and with as much talent as he has, it is very possible that his football journey will continue after his time here at U of L. But he is still here, and he knows that the team we have here at U of L has yet to be seen at its best.
“I’m just waiting on the game where we can play as a whole unit,” Bushell said. “Certain positions have good games, but as far as a whole team branded together, we haven’t done it. Once we do that, we will be pretty dangerous.”
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal