PRESS RELEASE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Initially looking at Mekhi Becton last year, it was tough to fathom that the mammoth offensive lineman didn’t boast an ounce of collegiate experience.
The Highland Springs, Va., native towered over the opposition as a 6-foot-7, 345-pound rookie. Based on his physique, most pegged him as a veteran – not an 18-year old freshman.
Corey Ray has been demolishing the pitching in AA this year. He is either the leading hitter or in the top 3 for most major offensive categories and just needs 5 more home runs to reach the 30, 30, 30 club. The Chicago native plays outfield which is a logjam in the Brewers organization, especially after the guys they added at the big league club this past offseason.
UofL Football’s wide receiving corps just got a big new weapon today with the commitment of 3 star WR Stanley King out of Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, NJ.
Last Season: Louisville’s defense was maligned with many issues last season, ranging from injuries and issues in pass coverage to an inability to get a push or make stops in the front seven.
Fortunately, though, there was some good with the linebackers unit. True freshman Dorian Etheridge led the team with 83 combined tackles in 2017, while seniors Stacy Thomas (69) and Trevon Young (62) also finished in the top five for Louisville. Jonathan Greenard finished with a team-high seven sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.
Projected starters: C.J. Avery, Dorian Etheridge, P.J. Blue
Assuming that new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder will run the 4-3 as his “base” defense (VanGorder typically has run multiple sets such as a 4-3 or 3-4), then edge rushers like Jonathan Greenard and Boosie Whitlow would move down to the defensive line. That is also what I am basing these projected lineups on.
At outside linebacker, Louisville will likely start C.J. Avery and P.J. Blue. Avery was a true freshmen that played in all 13 games for the Cardinals last season, usually playing at safety. He’s shown an ability to play both inside the box and in coverage really well, which is why Avery will likely spend most of his time as a “STAR” (linebacker-safety hybrid) in VanGorder’s defense. It’s a role similar to what Josh Harvey-Clemons had when Todd Grantham was at Louisville, where Avery can roam the field and be able to blitz, play man coverage or deep zone.
Like Avery, P.J. Blue is also a safety converted to linebacker in VanGorder’s system. Blue hasn’t played a lot in his college career due to injuries, but has a skill set similar to Avery’s. Due to his and Avery’s size (Blue at 6’3″ and 217 pounds, Avery at 5’11” and 213 pounds), it’s likely to suggest that VanGorder wants a lot of speed at the position, coveting players that have a lot of versatility. With Avery and Etheridge as the only linebackers returning with experience, this spot will likely see a rotation between Blue, Robert Hicks and others to find a quality third starter.
One spot that is locked, however, is at middle linebacker, where sophomore Dorian Etheridge returns. Etheridge has bulked up to 233 pounds this season, making him one of Louisville’s biggest players at the position. Like Avery, Etheridge played in all 13 games last season as a true freshman, leading the team in tackles. He was tremendous last year in run support, but will need to improve on pass coverage to become a more complete player.
Key Reserves: Robert Hicks (Fr.), Quen Head (So.)
Robert Hicks comes to Louisville as a highly touted four-star linebacker out of Miami, Fl. Hicks brings massive size to the position at 6’1″ and 243 lbs., and is likely the odds-on favorite to have the most contribution among Louisville’s 2018 freshmen class. Hicks is a great run stopper, and with his impressive size, could see some reps at outside linebacker or middle linebacker in a 3-4 set. He showed an ability to shed blocks and make plays in the backfield, something that Louisville lacked in their front seven for most of 2017. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Hicks start at some point.
Quen Head received praise from head coach Bobby Petrino during Louisville’s media day Saturday for his effort on special teams, so don’t be surprised if he also sees reps at linebacker at some point. Players like freshman Yasir Abdullah and Nick Okeke could work their way into the rotation, as this is a wide open position battle.
Outlook: Like most of the defense this season, Louisville’s linebacker corps is young. The Cardinals do not have a senior linebacker on their 2018 roster, and unless some players like Greenard declare for the draft, nearly everyone should be back for 2019.
Dorian Etheridge figures to be one of, if not the best player on Louisville’s defense this season. He’s shown high football IQ on his tape and can play the run really well. They also have athletes like C.J. Avery and Robert Hicks that will add some much needed versatility with the linebacker group.
Overall, this group’s production will largely depend on how the defensive line performs. Louisville had a lot of issues last year getting pushes against opposing offensive lines, resulting in teams like Boston College and Clemson having their way with Louisville on the ground. The linebackers will need to be better at shooting gaps and getting open-field tackles in space, especially since they will be facing quality running backs like Damien Harris, A.J. Dillon, Cam Akers and Benny Snell. Pass coverage should also be a focal point this season, but might be okay considering Avery and Blue’s experience at safety.
But if Louisville can get quality production out of their interior linemen and get some disruption going, that will free up opportunities for the linebackers to have a much better season.
Rick Pitino is finally down to just one lawsuit after a federal judge announced today that his case against Adidas will have to be handled in arbitration. According to the Courier Journal, judge David A. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky granted the motion. Pitino filed the lawsuit in October of 2017 claiming that the shoe company deliberately damaged his reputation. The lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning Pitino is free to file the same claims again. You can read the Courier Journal’s full report below.
Sooooo, it looks like Coach Mack made the right choice in his strength and conditioning coach…
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville football team, after nearly two weeks of practice, conducted its first major scrimmage of the fall Monday night at Cardinal Stadium.
Playing under the lights, the Cardinals ran approximately 125 plays, with the 1s facing the 1s, and the 2s also squaring off against each other in the controlled scrimmage. The Cardinals began most of their drives on their own 30 or 35-yard line.
Head coach Bobby Petrino switched the format in the second half, putting the first groups against the second units.
Bobby Petrino got some good recruiting news Saturday night when 3 star FL DT Denzel Daxon committed to UofL Football.
The 6’1 315 lbs Daxon was previously committed to Miami (FL). He plays high school football at Carol City in Miami, FL. Daxon chose UofL over Miami, Florida, Georgia, UK, and others. LD Scott was his lead recruiter per 247sports.com.
In watching Daxon’s highlights, he is a unique blend of power and quickness. He is nearly impossible to block one on one because he will either push the OL straight back into the backfield or use his quick feet to beat the OL to a spot and get free run at the QB or RB.
CSZ’s Jeff Nunn, myself Shawn Barbour, and Daniel Spencer were all at UofL Football media day providing coverage for all our loyal readers.
We were able to interview numerous coaches and players, asking some football related questions and some off the wall questions.
Check out our video below to see interviews with Coach Lonnie Galloway, Brian Van Gorder, Jawon Pass, Jaylen Smith, Dee Smith, and a host of others.
On Saturday, August 11th, University of Louisville football team held its annual media day. Here are a few pictures we captured from the event.
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT:
UofL to Host Job Fair for Cardinal Stadium Job Opportunities
The job fair will be held on Saturday, Aug. 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2018
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville will host a job fair on Saturday, Aug. 18 at Cardinal Stadium from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., to hire positions for the upcoming UofL football season.
Billed as the “Staff Signing Day,” Louisville and its partners – Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC), CenterPlate, and the Louisville Special Forces – will be looking for candidates to fill various positions for the seven-game home slate, which begins on Sept. 8 versus Indiana State.
Our friends at the ACC Digital Network sat down with Bobby Petrino and Jaylen Smith to talk about what the newest era of UofL football will look like. Take a look below to see what he has to say!
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT:
Goldwire’s Addition Stabilizes the Defensive Line
Jared Goldwire was one of the nation’s top defensive line prospects.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 9, 2018
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When the University of Louisville football program hit the recruiting trail last year, there was a glaring need for defensive linemen.
Gone were defensive ends James Hearns and Trevon Young and defensive tackles Drew Bailey and De’Asian Richardson. The returning players lacked major playing experience.
I have been on vacation for the last week and a lot has happened since the last update at the end of July. Adam Duvall was traded to the Braves, Kyle Funkhouser had surgery that has ended his season, Will Smith was promoted to AAA, Corey Ray continues to have an incredible season, and Adam Engel has made home run robbing catches in back to back nights against the Yankees.
Last season, we saw the consistency of Blanton Creque and Mason King in their unheralded, but all important roles. While the return game was managed by the likes of Reggie Bonnafon and Seth Dawkins, we missed out on the excitement of Jaire Alexander due to his injury suffered in the first game. The first two names mentioned are back in their roles and look to build on already successful careers. The return game will be an interesting decision when the depth chart is released.
Redshirt-Junior Blanton Creque is as good a kicker that the Louisville football program has seen. His accuracy and dependability is up there with former Lou Groza winner, Art Carmody. For his career, Creque is 97-99 on extra points and 33-39 on field goals good for 84.6%. When Creque takes the field, the Louisville fans should feel confident that he’s going to throw points on the board.
I have been doing theses predictions for several years and this if by far the hardest one that I have done. There are so many questions that I need answered before I can be give you a true and accurate prediction.
Here is what I know… Louisville is going to lose to both Alabama and Clemson and they are going to beat Indiana State and WKU.
(Nunns opinion, not CSZ’s)
Other than that, all 8 remaining games are winnable. Those remaining 8 games are all possible losses too. Do I really think Louisville will lose all 8 of those games? Of course not, but I do believe all of those games could be decided by 10 points or less.
I also know that the wise-guys in Las Vegas do not believe that Louisville is going to have a great year. They set the projected win total at 6.5 games. Most major publications predict Louisville to win 7 games. A few predict 8 games. Personally, I could see as many as 10 wins and as few as 6.
Traditionally the Vegas guys are very accurate. However, this year I believe they are factoring in the loss of Lamar Jackson a bit to heavy into their formula. I believe Louisville will have a top 5-10 offense. The question I have is on defense. Mainly the defensive line. I worry about teams with strong running games. My fear is that a team can control the clock with a slow methodical running game and keep the high powered Louisville offense off the field. I also believe the defense will be better than last year.
So, by my calculations, Louisville won’t lose much, if anything, on offense and should be better on defense. If I am correct, then Louisville should win 9 games. Yes, my prediction is 9 wins. But 8 would not shock me in the least.
Here are my game by game predictions, Read the rest of this entry
Quentin Snider will continue his basketball playing career overseas in Portugal. He signed a pro contract with SL Benfica of the Portuguese league per his father Scott Snider. You can read the details from Scott Snider’s Facebook post below.
This is excellent news for Q as he gets to continue playing the game he loves, get paid to do so, and do it at a high level.
We at Cardinal Sports Zone wish Q all the luck in the world and hope our hometown player makes waves in Portugal.
UofL held its first practice of fall camp in full pads today. Coach Bobby Petrino came away feeling good at where his team stands early on in camp and talked about it after practice.
Petrino mentioned that he looked forward to watching film of a live tackling drill. He talks about the progression of the passing game and about the four team captains that have been chosen by the team. Petrino speaks of Cole Bentley and his progress as well.
Lukayas McNeil speaks about being a leader and what it takes to be in that role as he is now a captain.
Last Season: Louisville’s pass defense went from 14th in 2016 to 66th overall last season, allowing approximately 225 yards per game. The average was the worst ranking for the Cardinals since 2011, and the third lowest in their last ten seasons.
The Cardinals struggled a lot in the first half of 2017 due to a combination of injuries (mainly with star cornerback Jaire Alexander) and a lackluster scheme from former defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon. While Alexander was sidelined, the Cardinals allowed 290+ passing yards in four of their first six games, as well as 461 yards and five touchdowns to Wake Forest. They rebounded in their final four games with solid performances, allowing 147.25 yards per game and a 1:6 TD-INT ratio in that stretch.
UofL Football and Adidas have unveiled the uniforms UofL will wear for the upcoming season. They are the Adidas Primeknit uniforms and they are nice.