We first took the time to take a look at the offensive side of the ball at some of the movers and shakers heading into upcoming football season for University of Louisville. While Coach Strong is all about rough and tumble smash-mouth offensive football his passion is the defensive side of the ball.
For part two of our look at the 2011 Football Cards we will examine the prospective starters on the defensive side of the ball. This unit will be the leaders of this team and a key reason this edition of Louisville football can be successful again this year. (The coaching staff will also be utilizing a lot of 3-3-5 defensive scheme this year but the projected starters are listed as Base 4-3 due to this was the only look that was given during open practices.)
(Photos courtesy of: Insidetheville.com)
Defensive End: #91 William Savoy 6’1” 248 lbs. Senior
Defensive Tackle: #6 Greg Scruggs 6’4” 273 lbs. Senior
Defensive Tackle: #92 Brandon Dunn 6’3” 307 lbs. Sophomore
Defensive End: #47 B.J. Butler 6’2” 276 lbs. Sophomore
I could have listed another four or five guys in these starting spots and felt very comfortable in that decision but this is the lineup that will start for this year’s Cardinal defensive front. There is such depth and talent up front that one of the most talented young players of the group freshman Lorenzo Mauldin has moved to tight end to help shore up that position. Greg Scruggs named Mr. Reliable by Coach Strong at the Kickoff Luncheon is the guy that will be the anchor of the entire defense and he will be an all Big-East caliber lineman this season. Blessed with the versatility to play both inside and on the defensive perimeter as well as pass coverage Scruggs will be the guy that the rest of the guys look to for leadership. Quite possibly the most surprising player on the defense last year was Brandon Dunn as he came in and started for a veteran laden team and played exceptionally well anchoring the middle of the line. Dunn looks to have gotten much bigger
and stronger this year and will have to be improved to keep his talented teammates at bay. At the ends we will start with Savoy and Butler who both are pass rush specialists that have improved both their technique and strength to help run around and through the competition. For guys who will make noise off the bench there are a ton of guys both returning and new to the program that will have the opportunity to see quality snaps for the Cardinals this coming season. On the interior #99 Jamaine Brooks (6’4” 329 lbs. r-Fr.) has probably gotten more out of redshirting as anyone in the program as he has lost well over 50 pounds and has been dominant early in camp. Also on the interior look for a trim and fit looking #95 Randy Salmon (6’3” 271 lbs. Jr.) and #93 Roy Philon (6’3” 290 So.) to provide depth on the inside as well. On the edge there is a ton of speed and skill coming off the bench as well led by #47 Malcolm Mitchell (6’2” 236 lbs. So.) and #17 Marcus Smith (6’4” 251 lbs. So.). Mitchell has rotated with Savoy and Butler playing with the starters and will get a ton of snaps this year and Smith who made the move from linebacker is also looking like a pass rush terror since his move in the spring. A pair of stud freshman #90 Bryant Dubose (6’4” 257 lbs.) and #48 Deiontrez Mount (6’5” 215 lbs.) will as get a long look for early playing time also as both are as physically gifted as any of the newcomers this year.
Weakside Linebacker: #24 Daniel Brown 6’1” 220 lbs. Junior
Mike Linebacker: #46 Dexter Heyman 6’3” 239 lbs. Senior
SAM Linebacker: #2 Preston Brown 6’2” 260 lbs. Sophomore
While there are a ton of options on the D-line the top spots at linebacker look to be pretty solid to this point. Dexter Heyman could be the most impressive physical specimen on the team and after a couple of seasons searching for the right spot on the defense it looks like he has found a home in the middle. Possessing great all around ability Heyman is another big time playmaker in the middle of the defense. The Brown brothers will man the edges at the second level of the defense and each has a unique skill set they bring to the table. Preston is the hitter of the defense playing physically at the point of attack and looks much more comfortable his second season with the Cards. Daniel is much more balanced and is very adept in pass coverage and is a sure tackler. There is a ton of youth behind the starters and a lot of guys still trying to find themselves at the collegiate level. Three sophomores will have opportunities to get significant snaps this season in #43 Deon Rogers (6’2” 200 lbs.), #51 Mike Privott (6’0” 234 lbs.), and #37 Tyon Dixon (6’0” 208 lbs.).
Cornerback: #35 Anthony Connor 5’11” 185 lbs. Senior
Free Safety: #36 Shenard Holton 6’1” 187 lbs. Junior
Strong Safety: #29 Hakeem Smith 6’1” 183 lbs. Sophomore
Cornerback: #22 Jordon Paschal 5’9” 180 lbs. RS-Freshman
Outside of the offensive line the most talked about group on the team is at cornerback. There is some talent at the spot but most of it is unproven so it is up to Anthony Connor who is coming off injury (ACL) to provide stability a leadership to this extremely young but talented group. Conner during the first few days of camp was solid in coverage and is a sure tackler. Holding on to the spot he earned during the spring Paschal has looked good in camp so far. He is very quick out of his breaks and has good closing speed to the ball. The group behind the starters who are looking to crack the starting lineup begins with a talented trio of freshmen Coach Strong called “as good as any group of freshman cornerbacks in the nation” in #3 Charles Gaines (5’10” 176 lbs), #15 Andrew Johnson (5’10” 178 lbs.), and #19 Terrell Floyd (5’10” 170 lbs.). Each of the three freshmen possess blazing speed, excellent ball skills, and a ton of natural instinct. Look for #41 Stephan Robinson (5’8” 175 lbs. r-Fr.) to provide depth as well since making the move to the corner after spring practice from wide receiver. While there are a ton of questions at the corner there are no such issues at the safety spots. Hakeem Smith returns as the leading playmaker in the defensive backfield and looks continue to improve and play at an All-Big East level. Shenard Holton is a guy that the coaching staff has been very impressed with so far this fall and Defensive Coordinator Vance Bedford said “Holton has been as good as anybody this fall”. A pair of very experienced players will back up the starters in seniors #23 Terence Simien (6’3” 208 lbs.) and #33 Mike Evans (5’10” 188 lbs.).