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.
But the biggest move belongs to Mauldin, who racked up 9.5 sacks in 2013. He and the departed Marcus Smith formed one of the more prolific sack duos in the country. Though Mauldin has been held out of contact this spring, Grantham knows his standout player can have a much bigger impact at linebacker.
“That’s the beauty of the 3-4, it allows young players or new players to play and use their athletic ability,” Grantham said. “The game nowadays is a space game with the way offenses are running the ball and throwing the ball. Guys like Lorenzo that are tall, have length, burst, athletic ability, those kinds of guys become valuable and you like to get them on the field.”
Mauldin will still line up some at end depending on the game situation, which will give the defense more versatility. But he now must drop into coverage.