Earlier this week, I posted about five players to watch on offense at this Friday’s spring football game. Now it is time for the five players to watch on defense. Once again, these won’t be the obvious guys that you already know about like Sheldon Rankins or James Burgess. Rather, this will be a list of guys that you may or may not have heard of, but that we expect to make an impact in the 2015 season for the Cards.
Once again, just for reference, I will tell you the five guys we highlighted going into last year’s spring game, just to show we may have an idea of what we are talking about. And if this is completely wrong this year, my fault. Last year’s five to watch on defense:
1) Keith Kelsey – Had to fill the void left by Preston Brown last season. I would say he did that.
2) Sheldon Rankins – Like I said, not even listing him this year because he is obvious. Was not obvious at this point last year.
3 & 4) Richard Benjamin & Chucky Williams – Had these guys on here because of the loss of Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor. Had no idea Gerod Holliman would blow up like he did, and James Sample wasn’t even a thought to be a Cardinal at the time.
5) Trevon Young – Didn’t have a breakout season, but also played a similar position as some guy named Lorenzo Mauldin. He still appeared in 11 games though.
So what that shows is this list may miss a time or two (Benjamin and Williams) or it can have guys on here that can be huge on defense (Kelsey and Rankins). Take it for what it’s worth. It would be easy to name the big-time guys. Taking a couple chances here.
Videos from Howie Lindsey of CardinalSports.com.
Transcribed by me, which takes forever.
Two guys expected to be leaders this season are Brandon Radcliff and Sheldon Rankins. They spoke after Saturday morning’s scrimmage. We are 5 months from the season opener against Auburn!
Here are the depth charts listed on each team’s website for Friday night’s game between Louisville and Syracuse. For Louisville, although it does say “Will Gardner or Reggie Bonnafon,” we know that Coach Petrino has announced that Reggie Bonnafon will start the game. It does list Matt Milton as a starter at wide receiver. Personally, I am STILL waiting for him to break onto the scene. I feel like I have been hyping him up for 3 years now.
The offensive line still has the “or” word used at center and right guard. Another interesting note is that James Quick is not listed as the first or second punt returner. Sticking with special teams, Brandon Radcliff is not listed as a starting kick returner, possibly indicating that he will continue to get more carries from the running back position.
11 Will Gardner 6-5 226 So.
or 7 Reggie Bonnafon 6-3 206 Fr.
12 Brett Nelson 6-4 220 Sr.
Anytime I go to a UofL football game, I like to watch it back on DVR before typing up too much about it. It is easy to have initial thoughts and reactions while at the game, but you do notice a lot more when you watch it again on TV. So since I finally was able to do that and I just finished with it, I will close the book on the Wake Forest game with these few thoughts, before moving on to Syracuse.
*I believe that Reggie Bonnafon had a very good game. In my 3 quick hitters after the game, I mentioned this, but I have to expand on that after seeing the game again. If you just look at the stats, you would think he was average at best. He threw for 206 yards on 16/32 passing and did not throw for a touchdown. He also did not have an interception. He rushed for 46 yards on 14 carries. Two of those carries were on 3rd and long and he picked up the 1st down with big runs. Huge plays!
Speaking of 3rd and long, the rest of the offense did not do him any favors when it came to down and distance. In the first quarter, actually on the same drive, the offense for the Cards had two different penalties on 3rd down that backed them up to 3rd and long. On 3rd and 9, there was an illegal substitution that backed it up to 3rd and 14. Bonnafon would actually convert that into a 1st down with a great throw to Eli Rogers, but that kind of penalty just can’t happen. Then on 3rd and 4, the Cards were called for a chop block, backing them up to 3rd and 18. On the next play, Bonnafon was sacked. Before the chop block was called, Louisville had picked up that 1st down on 3rd and 4.
It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but it was a win. Here are three quick observations from the game yesterday.
The defense had another great game
Some things are obvious, but it has to be said. This defense picked up the slack for the offense once again this game. Gerod Holliman continues to impress as he got his 6th interception of the season and had a great return that almost went for a touchdown. He also had a huge hit on a Wake Forest player that sent him out of the game and got the crowd very energized. He is clearly one of the fan favorites on this team.
For the game, the defense only gave up 3 points, and that was after a fumble by Reggie Bonnafon around midfield. They also only gave up 100 yards of offense from Wake Forest. Lorenzo Mauldin was in the backfield all game and came away with 3 sacks. Sheldon Rankins actually had an interception on what seemed like the 30th time that the Demon Deacons tried to run that shovel pass play up the middle.
Facing a freshman QB for the 3rd time in 5 games, the defense did exactly what they should have done, shut him down.
The Louisville-Miami game ended about 2 days ago at the time I am typing this. So too much time has passed to write about that game, right? Time to move on to the next game? Nah, not just yet. A game of this magnitude can be celebrated and talked about just a little bit longer than normal games. I started going to UofL football games as early in my life that I can remember, and the games were played on astroturf on a baseball field, not too far from horse manure. Big names like Texas and Penn State came in to play, but still, Louisville was far from a big-time program.
The Cards moved into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium beginning in the 1998 season. It was definitely a new era of Cardinal football. At the time, we were a program that was nothing more than decent, and in Conference USA. Fast forward to Monday night, and you have seen the Cards in the Big East and the American Athletic Conference. But Monday night, you saw the Cards take on the Miami Hurricanes as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Not just members, but a program that is ready to compete right away.
I remember when you could go to a gas station and get free tickets for UofL football games. I remember the smell of the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center as you are walking into old Cardinal Stadium. I remember watching Ron Cooper lead us to a 1-10 season. I think it is quite alright to let Monday’s huge game/moment last just a little bit longer than usual.
So after watching the game from my new seats in section 224, and finally watching it on DVR to catch anything I may have missed, there are some things that surprised me and some things that didn’t surprise me. I will attempt to outline them now…
My first game with Louisville as a member of the ACC was magnificent. It started out with the best CardMarch I have ever been to. It didn’t seem like I tailgated since 3pm either. I know some were out longer but that’s the earliest I could get out. Walking through the sea of CardNation after the CardMarch was amazing too. Walked by Luke Hancock, the entire UofL Basketball Team and even seen Miss Rose Bridgewater. It was a great time. Then we took the long walk to Section 9 Row GG to our seats. I thought I was gonna die. I sat down and did not move until the clock hit 0:00. (unlike 20% of the crowd) But I understood this time, Late night game, work and school tomorrow, I will give you some slack. I will not however give the 15,000 people who decided to spend the 2nd half on the party deck any slack. lol. They really should make those standing room only seats. It would increase capacity too!. The game was what I expected from a “Rookie” QB. Will Gardner did have a rough night but he didn’t do anything wrong that coaching and a nice game vs Murray State won’t fix. 3rd most yards in a opener under Petrino at QB isn’t too shabby either. Dom Brown and the entire receiving core impressed me. We said multiple people would have to step up to cover DP being out and boy did they ever. The entire Defense was amazing too. Lozo, Rankins, Kelsey AKA Mr 55 (cheap pop), Floyd, Sample, Holliman, Brown, Burgess and whoever else I forgot just made me glow.
It’s getting to be that time where the national publications release their preseason college football polls. There will be many different ones of course. This one is from Lindy’s, who have the Cards at #31 on their countdown. I would expect this to be about where most magazines and other media outlets have the Cards, somewhere around that #25 mark. Many factors will contribute to that. Yes there is a lot of talent back, but the uncertainty of a new QB, replacing 3 first round NFL Draft picks, and everything you already know about.
Here is what Lindy’s says about the Cards in 2014…(They mention Robert Clark, but of course he has transferred to Samford.)
From ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson, who talks about the different defense that Louisville will play this season.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There are holes to fill across the Louisville defense, one that quietly ranked as one of the best units in America a year ago.
But that is not the only reason this group is undergoing an entire overhaul during the spring. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has changed the base defense to a 3-4 and started shifting players around to positions better suited for them. The lone returning starting lineman from a year ago, Lorenzo Mauldin, will move to outside linebacker, filling a hybrid rush end role that will better utilize his athleticism.
Sheldon Rankins, a backup defensive tackle the last two seasons, has emerged as a leader at end but can play nose guard, too.
“He’s been dominant,” Grantham said.
Plenty more moves have been made: B.J. Dubose, who has played end and tackle, has found a home at end this spring; Redshirt freshman James Hearns has moved from linebacker to end; redshirt freshman Chucky Williams is leading the charge to start at one safety spot after starting his career at cornerback.
Head coach Bobby Petrino spoke to the media after Saturday’s scrimmage at the Trager Indoor Practice Facility. He talks about Will Gardner, DeVante Parker, and wraps up the first week of spring practice.
Quarterback Will Gardner, linebacker Keith Kelsey, and defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins also spoke to the media after practice.
Here is what happened the weekend of Friday November 22nd through Sunday November 24th around CardNation:
Friday November 22nd
Swimming and Diving: The Cardinal swimming team completed its first day of competition at the Michigan Open in Canham Natatorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan with five wins and another school record. In the 200-free relay, the foursome of Rachael Lewis (23.40), Johanna Cowley (23.27), Andrea Cottrell (23.30) and Mary Mittel (23.27) combined for a 1:32.91 and a second place finish. The men’s 200-free relay won with a time of 1:20.98 as Rudy Edelen (23.73), Aaron Young (20.38), Pedro Coutinho 19.98 and Trevor Carroll (19.89) touched first. of L women took four of the top five spots in the 200-IM led by winner Tanja Kylliainen’s 1:59.68. Andrea Cottrell was second in 2:01.63, with Abigail Chin touching fourth in 2:02.40 and Lucy Kramer touching in 2:04.83 for fifth. For the men, Evan Noble won the event with a time of 1:47.81, with teammate David Boland touching second in 1:48.70 and Ryan Massey was fourth in 1:50.13.
Volleyball: Senior hitter Emily Juhl had 13 kills to lead the University of Louisville to a 25-12, 25-15, 25-22 sweep over the University of Cincinnati in AAC volleyball action on Senior Night at the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville remains unbeaten in the AAC at 16-0 and improves to 21-7 overall. The Cardinals hit .343 for the match. Janelle Jenkins hit .474 with 10 kills and Randi Ewing contributed seven kills and hit 1.000 for the match. Katie George had 41 assists and Maya McClendon and Caitlin Welch each added 16 digs.
Ok guys where do we start? First off it is Senior Day and 38 degrees and it is time to honor the guys that came to give us all they had for 4-5 years. The turnout fluctuated. There were about 30k at kickoff, 40k at beginning of 2nd quarter, got up to around 45k at peak, then dropped to 30k after start of 4th and finally dipped to about 20-25 once Memphis started scoring in 4th quarter. We have to do better. We have to be there in our seats 30 minutes prior to kick-off. We have to stay until the clock hits 0:00. We have to fill up the stadium for senior day and every other day. We will likely be up to 70k seats within 2 years and I will tell you this, ACC away fans will make the trips and turn our home games into theirs.
Previous position breakdowns:
Today we continue the position breakdowns for the 2013 football season and focus on the Defensive Line. There is a lot of talent and depth at this spot. If they can stay healthy, and some need to get healthy first, watch out! Let’s see who we have here…
6’4 243 lbs
Mauldin has moved from defensive end to tight end and now back to defensive end since arriving at UofL. What does that mean? He is not only a team player, but versatile. You don’t just switch positions unless you are skilled enough to do it and selfless enough to sacrifice for the team.