The fine folks at The ACC Digital Network are at it again. The accolades are piling up for Sophomore QB Lamar Jackson. If you watch TV or listen to the radio you may think this is a one man team. Lamar would not want it that way. Very humble, classy and easy going, Lamar has indeed been the spark the Cards need this year. But it brings up the question: Is this a one man team? The answer is a very resounding no. The Cards have a smothering Defense, great O-line (That felt good to say), great special teams and a balanced rushing stable and it seems like just about every wide receiver has a TD. That is balance. In this video The ACC DN gives you the video evidence to back up my claims. (facts) Enjoy!
Last Season: With Lorenzo Mauldin leaving for the NFL, Louisville recruited former Big XII Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields to replace him. While Fields struggled in the first half of the season to find some rhythm, he eventually led the team with 10.5 sacks last season, including 7.5 in the final three games against Pitt, Kentucky and Texas A&M. Keith Kelsey led all Cardinals with 106 tackles, and Louisville saw a bevvy of linebackers come in and have a major impact on the team. Louisville also saw Trevon Young have a nice spurt of 8.5 sacks in a four-game stretch, as the linebacker group became the strongest group in Louisville’s defense.
James Burgess is the lone starter gone from last season’s team, now signed as an undrafted free agent by his hometown Miami Dolphins. Keith Brown and Nick Dawson-Brents, who Louisville saw used in a reserve role last season, both transferred to Western Kentucky.
This Season: It goes without saying that this is not only Louisville’s strongest position on the entire team, but this may be the strongest linebacker group in the country.
As mentioned, Devonte Fields leads the group as the main edge rusher for Louisville. Fields has the potential to be yet another first-round pick for the Cardinals; the senior has strong hands at the point of attack, and has some great agility to sidestep pass blockers. Fields has received a lot of praise as an All-American and All-ACC candidate, and could be in for an outstanding 2016 season if he stays consistent for all 12 games.
The other edge rusher remains a mystery to most. With Trevon Young sitting out the 2016 season due to a hip injury suffered in the Music City Bowl, James Hearns will be the guy to replace him. Hearns was a highly touted prospect when he signed with the team in 2013, but hasn’t quite cracked the starting lineup due to so much talent at the position the last three seasons. He got a lot of playing time as a reserve last season and got to audition for his role, after Trevon Young was injured. Hearns has also lined up as a 3-4 defensive end, so it’ll be interesting to see if Todd Grantham will occasionally move Hearns there in certain blitz packages and get more speed from reserves like Henry Famurewa and Jonathan Greenard.
Keith Kelsey and Stacy Thomas are the starting inside linebackers, and both figure to be solid All-ACC candidates. Kelsey is an outstanding tackler, and a consistent, reliable playmaker for Louisville’s defense. Kelsey is a solid leader and has been an all-around threat for Louisville. It will be interesting to see what Kelsey does this season without his fellow “Bash Brother” Burgess, but most fans are excited to see what Stacy Thomas has to offer as his replacement. Thomas had an impressive showing in the Music City Bowl, and possibly stands as the X-factor for this defense after being a special teams ace. He was thought to miss a couple games to start the season, but he recently returned to practice and is ready to go for Thursday’s game against Charlotte.
Even if injuries and transfers left the linebacker position without more players, the team has amazing depth in their two-deep lineup that will allow them to compete. Henry Famurewa and Jonathan Greenard are two guys that could see more time as edge rushers this season; both were highly touted . Amonte Caban and Isaac Stewart are two young, impressive linebackers who could spell Kelsey and/or Thomas this season, and they figure to be the future for Louisville at the position once those two graduate.
Gary McCrae, who was featured in the Netflix hit documentary Last Chance U, signed with Louisville after failing to qualify academically for Georgia. McCrae is a guy that could see time this year as a reserve, but this is a very deep group and most of the incoming players may see a redshirt this season.
Football season is still over two months away but it’s on my mind everyday. I recently received an email for the University ticket office that stated my request for Clemson tickets was approved and would be mailed at the end of August. I felt like a six-year-old on Christmas morning upon reading that email. Football has always been my first love even though I have come to enjoy Cardinal softball since I started covering it for CSZ. You should really go to a softball game. It’s a great time and you will be pleasantly surprised with the product on the field. Read the rest of this entry
Here is the next of the Spring Football breakdowns by the fine folks at @UofLFootball. This one is for the Linebacker position. 1st team All- ACC Keith Kelsey and the national leader in tackles for a loss, Devante Fields, leads this vicious LB core. James Hearns and Trevon Young complete the LBC (Linebacker Core) and there’s no drama there. We will have a position by position breakdown here on the site leading up to the start of the regular season but for now let’s feast on this video! (Click on More)
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.
According to this article from goupstate.com, 2014 defensive back Kendall Randolph, from Tallahassee, Florida, has a top 3 of Louisville, Miami, and South Carolina. Randolph is a 4 star prospect on Rivals.com. They rank him as the 11th best cornerback in the state of Florida and the 20th best player overall in the state!
Previous position breakdowns:
Today we continue the position breakdowns for the 2013 football season and focus on the Linebackers. This unit has talent, but not too much depth as far as game experience is concerned. It could be a strength for the Cards this season if some guys can stay healthy, and a key guy can get healthy. Let’s see who we have…
6’2 260 lbs
One of the biggest leaders on this year’s team will be Preston Brown. The senior linebacker from Cincinnati, OH has played in 39 games as a Card. If you are trying to do the math, that is EVERY game since he has been here. He has started in 24 of those games, all 13 last year and 11 as a sophomore.
The train just keeps on rollin! Just when the Cards were stacking up on 2014 talent, a late signee to the 2013 class jumps on board! Former Florida Gator commit James Hearns, a 4* linebacker from Tallahassee, FL had been waiting to sign somewhere after signing day, and today he chose Louisville! He also had offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, USC, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and many more! Holy offer sheet!