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Author Archives: Justin Krueger

2018 Louisville Football Preview: Linebackers

Dorian Etheridge - Media Day

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.

2018 Louisville Football Preview: Secondary

PJ Mbanasor

Photo Courtesy of 247sports.com

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.

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Ray Spalding Taken 56th Overall in 2018 NBA Draft

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It was a long wait for former Louisville forward Ray Spalding to hear his name called, but he was selected in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft. Read the rest of this entry

Louisville Eliminated in Final Game of Lubbock Regional

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After earning their way back into a rematch with host Texas Tech, the Cardinals’ 2018 season came to a screeching end with a 9-1 loss to the Red Raiders. Read the rest of this entry

Texas Tech Sends Louisville to Elimination Round With 10-4 Win

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Plagued by untimely pitching and going 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position, Louisville (44-18) fell short to Texas Tech (41-17) 10-4 in their 1-0 matchup in the Lubbock Regional of the NCAA Baseball Tournament. Read the rest of this entry

Offensive Blitz Gives Louisville 13-6 Win Over Kent State

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Entering this weekend’s NCAA Regional in Lubbock, Tx, one of the big stories for Louisville was if they could get the offense going to keep up with the teams in their pod (Kent State, Texas Tech, and New Mexico State).

Needless to say, Louisville came out hot and ready at the plate. The Cards (44-17) rolled to a 13-6 win over Kent State (39-17), keyed with ten runs in the first two innings. Logan Wyatt led the charge with two home runs for seven RBI; a grand slam in the first inning, and three more runs driven in on his homer to right-center field in the second inning. The seven RBIs by Wyatt matched an NCAA Championship school record, set previously by Chris Dominguez in 2007. It’s also Louisville’s 16th straight win in the regional round.

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Wolf, Wyatt Earn All-American Honors

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24 hours before the Louisville baseball team begins their NCAA Tournament run, a few players have earned accolades as 2018 All-Americans.

Pitcher Adam Wolf was named as a third-team All-American by Baseball America, while first baseman Logan Wyatt also earned a third-team All-American spot with Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

Wolf finished the 2018 regular season with a 7-2 record, posting 105 strikeouts and a 2.26 ERA. Wyatt was among the team’s best hitters and a certain candidate for breakout player on U of L’s 2018 team, averaging .336 at the plate with 59 RBIs and walks each, as well as a team-high 22 doubles.

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Around the Bases: NCAA Regional in Lubbock

 

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Last week, Louisville made a solid run in the ACC Baseball Tournament, making it to the ACC Finals against Florida State. Louisville (43-17) defeated Wake Forest, Duke and Pitt before falling short to the Seminoles 11-8 in ten innings. This was the first time that Louisville made it to the ACC semifinals and finals since joining the conference in 2014.

Up next, Louisville begins NCAA Tournament play in Lubbock, Tx on Friday. The Cards are paired with host Texas Tech, MAC champion Kent State and WAC champion New Mexico State this weekend (Friday-Monday), with Louisville looking to make their fourth College World Series appearance in six seasons. Read the rest of this entry

Photo Gallery: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium North End Zone Expansion

Today, the media gathered for a tour of the north end zone expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Below are photos from the closed event as well as a rough outline of what is in store for the Cardinal football players of today and tomorrow.

The Cardinals open the 2018 season — their 100th in program history — against Alabama on September 1st. U of L opens their home slate with a September 8th tilt against Indiana State. Read the rest of this entry

Louisville Baseball Earns #2 Seed in Lubbock Regional

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The University of Louisville baseball team will open the NCAA Tournament as the second seed in the Lubbock Regional, announced during today’s NCAA Selection Show. Read the rest of this entry

FSU Defeats Louisville 11-8 in ACC Tournament Finals

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Florida State scored three runs in the tenth inning, keyed by Drew Mendoza’s go ahead RBI double, to give the Seminoles (43-17) an 11-8 win over Louisville (43-17) in the ACC Tournament finals.

The loss by Louisville likely eliminates the 25th ranked Cardinals from potentially hosting a regional site in this week’s upcoming NCAA Tournament. It also leaves Louisville without a conference tournament championship since 2009, but it was their first appearance in the ACC finals since joining the conference in 2014.

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Around the Bases: May 22nd

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Louisville finished the regular season with a 3-1 record last week. The Cardinals fell short to Indiana 9-5 in extra innings, but rebounded to complete a series sweep of Notre Dame (5-4, 5-0 and 10-7 wins last weekend). The wins extended Louisville’s streak over the Fighting Irish to 16 games in a row.

Up next, the Cardinals begin pool play in the ACC Tournament against #4 Duke and #9 Wake Forest. Louisville (40-16) will be looking to reach their first ever ACC semifinals berth, and win their first conference tournament since 2009.

News & Notes

With postseason play officially started, the ACC released its all-conference teams, and Louisville tied NC State with a league-high seven selections. First baseman Logan Wyatt (.332 batting, 55 walks, 22 doubles) and outfielder Josh Stowers (.335, 11 doubles, seven home runs, 32 stolen bases) earned a spot on the first team, while weekend pitchers Adam Wolf (6-2, 2.33 ERA, 96 strikeouts) and Nick Bennett (7-1, 2.12 ERA) were selected to the second team. Devin Mann and Danny Oriente were on the All-ACC Third Team, with freshman pitcher Bobby Miller also earning a spot there as well as the All-ACC Freshman team. As a team, Louisville baseball has placed at least seven players on the All-ACC roster every season they’ve been in the conference.

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Bennett’s Eight Inning Gem Delivers 5-0 Win for Louisville

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Nick Bennett delivered one of the best performances of his young career, pitching eight shutout innings as #25 Louisville (39-16) cruised to a 5-0 win over Notre Dame (24-27). Read the rest of this entry

Britton’s Walk Off Saves Louisville with 5-4 Win

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In a pinch-hitting role, freshman Zach Britton came off the bench and came up big for #25 Louisville. His walkoff hit to left field in the bottom ninth gave the Cardinals (38-16) a 5-4 win over Notre Dame (24-26) to start their weekend series against the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame jumped ahead in the first inning. An error while trying to put out Matt Vierling resulted in a run scoring for the Fighting Irish, giving them an early 1-0 lead in the inning.

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NCAA Baseball Tournament Projections: May 17th

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After Louisville’s 9-5 loss to Indiana on Tuesday, the Cardinals look to finish their regular season with a weekend series against Notre Dame. #25 Louisville (37-16) then has one last chance to bolster their resume with the ACC Tournament next week, looking to win their first conference tournament since 2009.

Here’s a look at where Louisville currently sits in NCAA Tournament projections, and what they can do in the final weeks to improve their resume.

Where Louisville Currently Sits

D1Baseball currently has U of L as the #2 seed in Minnesota’s regional, along with the Washington Huskies (25-22) and Bryant Bulldogs (29-20-1). Baseball America also has Louisville as the #2 seed but heading to Georgia’s regional, paired with the Bulldogs along with the Troy Trojans (36-17) and Canisius Golden Griffins (28-20).

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Around the Bases: May 15th

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It was a perfect 5-0 week for the Cardinals last week. The Cardinals came back from an early 4-0 deficit to beat Wright State, then followed that up with an offensive explosion as they rolled to a 24-6 win over Cincinnati. Louisville then traveled to Pittsburgh and swept the Panthers on the road (6-3, 6-5, 8-5), giving them their first perfect week since mid-April.

Up next, Louisville (37-15) closes their regular season with a four-game homestand against Indiana and Notre Dame. Read the rest of this entry

Around the Bases: May 8th

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The Louisville baseball team continues its late season run, going 3-1 last week that included an 8-4 win at #15 Vanderbilt. The Cardinals (32-15) also took two of three on the road at Boston College, winning the Friday (6-1) and Saturday games (11-3) before dropping the Sunday finale (2-1).

This week, Louisville prepares for a five-game tour in the next six days. The Cardinals host a pair of weekday games at home against Wright State and Cincinnati, before heading back on the road at Pittsburgh. Read the rest of this entry

Around the Bases: May 1st

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We are in the final stretch of the regular season, as Louisville baseball rolls on into May. Louisville finished last week with a 3-1 record, rallying from an early deficit to take a 5-4 win at home over in-state foe Western Kentucky, then took two of three in their weekend series against Indiana State.

Up next, Louisville (29-14) will be on the road exclusively this week, traveling to Nashville to face rival Vanderbilt, then going up north against Boston College.

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Oriente’s 8th Inning Heroics Push Louisville Past UVA

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Danny Oriente’s two-RBI single in the bottom eighth punctuated a 2-for-3 day at the plate as Louisville (26-11) rallied to a 5-4 win over Virginia (22-17) in a back-and-forth tilt between both teams.

The win pushed Louisville’s current winning streak to six games, and Oriente extended his hit streak to 11 games. In that stretch, Oriente is batting .513 (20-for-39) with 18 RBIs, and his streak is tied for the longest of any Louisville batter this season.

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Around the Bases: Mid April

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After a rough stretch against some of the top teams in the ACC, Louisville baseball rebounded with a 4-0 stretch last week. The Cardinals (24-11) came away with a 7-2 win at home against Northern Kentucky, followed by a sweep at Virginia Tech (3-2, 3-1 and 16-1 victories).

U of L returns home with an eight game home stand to close out April, starting with round two of their rivalry against Kentucky tomorrow night.

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