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
Before the season ended all that danced through my head was: If both Fields & Young come back…WOW. Then the Music City Bowl happened. While it looked like it could be an injury that was bad, you just never know in sports. Then came the news. Trevon Young’s dad came out and told every one he had dislocated and fractured his hip. Then it was all about how he could be back to he may never play again. I talked to Pete Nochta the night of the signing day event who told me that things were moving real slow. Not much else has been said until now.
The Cards got their Football Rings today as you have been able to see on Facebook & Social Media. Here are a few more pictures. They have the 5 game streak vs uk on one side and the commemorates the Bowl win over Texas A&M.
ESPN.com released their 2015 All-Bowl team, and Devonte Fields made the list. The teams are split like real teams, 11 on offense and 11 on defense. So only three linebackers were chosen out of all that played in bowl games. Having Fields be one of those three speaks volumes for his play in the Music City Bowl, and is a sign of good things to come for the Louisville defense in 2016.
It’s only been a week since my last post, but for me it seemed like there were 15 things that happened that I want to touch on with fans but kept getting swallowed by something new. Seriously y’all, I don’t know how Justin does it. Most of the news posts out of CSZ are from him after his 9-5 job & after he teaches little kids how to ball (hmm, maybe I could use a lesson. Have you seen my shot, J? Never mind, it’s scary). So I’m going to once again list (lol) the new news that rounded out the year 2015 into 2016 for Louisville football.
-🔸Louisville invades Nashville for the Music City Bowl
We’ve now had a few days to let the win against Texas A&M really sink in. The more I think about it, the more excited it makes me. That team went out and gave one of its best performances of the season. That’s expected when a team gets time to prepare and game plan; however, it is not expected when James Burgess, three time starting senior linebacker gets ejected for a horribly called and even more horrendously upheld targeting call on the first play from scrimmage. You can’t game plan for losing one of your best edge rushers shortly after that either. Not to mention, Shaq Wiggins missed most of the first half on the play that sent Burgess to the locker room. This very young team overcame every obstacle thrown at them in Nashville, and did it with style.
How do we get rid of those back-to-work blues after the holidays? Well, here is an option. Enjoy the full Music City Bowl right here on youtube!
The Cards took down the Aggies 27-21 in the Music City Bowl on Wednesday night. Lamar Jackson put on quite a show as he rushed for 226 yards and accounted for all four UofL touchdowns.
Transcript below (also includes Garrick McGee and Todd Grantham)
BOBBY PETRINO AND KEVIN SUMLIN
COACH SUMLIN: Great to be here. Just got through with the luncheon. I know that our guys, our team, our travel party, the administration, has had a fabulous time here in Nashville.
The city has been wonderful hosts. Franklin American Mortgage has done nothing but provide us with first-class events. Our guys are really, really appreciative of it, practice overing at Vanderbilt. Want to thank them, too, being able to utilize their facility and stadium and locker rooms, practice facility, it’s been great for us, too. Everything has been very, very convenient from that standpoint.
The Cards got off to a great start against Texas A&M on Monday night. No, this isn’t about the actual game (although maybe it will be). The teams participated in two competitions: song writing and hot chicken eating contest. Louisville ended the night 2-0. Well done.
I know it is UofL-UK week in basketball, but don’t forget about this football team! Just watching this Bobby Petrino press conference got me right back into the swing of things for the football Cards. Petrino talks about bowl preparation, what they have done differently than last year’s bowl prep, guys that have filed paperwork with the NFL, and much more.
This is a pretty cool little video with LD Scott, Kolby Smith, and James Burgess.
On Saturday’s show, Steve, Jeremy and Dave from the Red Rage Tailgate talk some tailgating, bowl game, WKU basketball game, and more. We also posed the question of the day, asking what your best/worst moment is in UofL sports in 2015. I join the show about halfway through after coming from our JV basketball game where Holy Cross beat Desales. It was obviously a good time in studio!
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin met with the media following Wednesday’s practice and the hot topic was the quarterback situation. Starter Kyle Allen already announced he was transferring, and yesterday the rumor was that Kyler Murray (new starter) would be transferring. Sumlin talks about that and more in the video below.
The best question may be the last one, when he is asked if he has lost confidence. Sumlin quickly shoots that one down, and rightfully so. What coach is going to say “Ya know what Jim, I have lost confidence. I am not ready for this bowl game. Can you find my confidence somewhere?”
Here is your chance to meet the 2015 Louisville Football Cardinals! Cards will sign autographs on Dec. 16 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Trager Center. Everyone must bring an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots. This is a fun event that I encourage you all to take part in. You can interact with the players and have a great time. Wish our Cards well on their way to the Music City Bowl vs Texas A&M! Go Cards!
Well this certainly changes things. On Thursday evening, Texas A&M Quarterback Kyle Allen announced that he would be leaving the program and he will not play in the Music City Bowl.