Defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon, Trumaine Washington and Dee Smith spoke with the media following today’s practice.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Both Louisville’s and Purdue’s offenses have received plenty of attention ahead of Saturday’s matchup in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Provided the style and high-scoring reputations that both coaches possess, it’s easy to see why that has become the topic of conversation. Given that it’s the season opener, defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon had ample time to become well-acquainted with the intricacies of Purdue’s offense.
“It’s probably my favorite movie right now,” Sirmon said on Wednesday when talking about Purdue’s spring game footage. “Every time you watch it, you find something new you like about it. I’ve watched it quite a bit. I’ve finally turned off the narration. Now, I’m just watching it with subtitles only.”
Over the course of the last seven seasons, the Cardinals’ defensive unit has finished ranked in the top 25 each year. Louisville is one of only five programs nationally to accomplish that – a feat it should certainly hang its hat on.
Though Sirmon is entering his first year at the helm of the defense, he has a group that returned nine starters from last year’s group that ranked 14th nationally in total defense, 22nd in interceptions made, and 24th in turnovers gained.
Not to mention, Louisville features one of the top and most versatile defensive backs in the country in Jaire Alexander. The preseason first team All-American has received quite a bit of other preseason accolades after totaling five interceptions, with nine pass breakups as a sophomore.
While Louisville’s secondary, on paper, appears solid from top to bottom, the unit does need to be on its toes, as Purdue first-year head coach Jeff Brohm has shown over his tenure the likelihood of incorporating trick plays.
“The thing about trick plays is they never run the same ones as they ran before,” Sirmon said. “It’s really boring to listen to. It’s about doing your job. It’s about where your eyes are supposed to be. The defense needs to behave the way the defense is designed to behave. There are certain people accountable for all vertical routes, so we have to do a good job with our eye control and trust what our eyes see and not second guess.”
Fortunately, the Cardinals’ defense has shown throughout fall camp that it is ready for the challenge.
“The one thing we’ve been really trying to do well, defensively, is play the good principles of defense – do a good job with that,” head coach Bobby Petrino said on Monday. “I thought we shed blocks, we ran full speed to the ball, we tackled well, and we created some turnovers, so it was good to see. I think it was the best scrimmage we’ve had defensively. I thought they were very focused and played extremely fast. I thought our defensive linemen did a good job on really controlling the line of scrimmage with our 1 defense.”
On Saturday, Louisville commences its 98th season in program history. The 2017 team – on the field – officially started preparing for the new campaign on July 31, a span of 33 days between fall camp and the first matchup.
“We’ve had a lot of preparation and time,” Sirmon said on Wednesday, three days before Louisville opens its 2017 campaign. “We’ve had all year to study them, and we go against a pretty good running quarterback in practice. We’ve covered our bases, and we’ll see how the game unfolds and call it accordingly.”