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Previewing Louisville - Defense

 

Bad news first, this is essentially the same scheme that wreaked nearly unquantifiable amounts of chaos on January first. Same basic looks, same basic schemes, same principals. Now the good news, Charlie Strong doesn't have the same level of talent in Louisville that he did in Gainesville. He does have some notable players, Rodney Gnat is a nice play maker on the D-Line, particularly in the passing game and Dexter Heyman is a stabilizing force at linebacker.

 

To my mind there are a few auxiliary categories that really set apart good defenses from great defenses. Great defenses pressure the QB, force turnovers and get off the field on third downs. On those stats the Louisville defense is vastly improved over last year.

 


Sacks Per Game
Takeaways Per Game
3rd Down Defense
2010
3.6
1.4
21.65%
2009
1.92
1.42
40.27%

 

In these respects UofL's defense is a much better unit this year compared to last. The two that jump out at me are the sacks per game and 3rd down defense. It is uncommon to see such large improvements in those categories from year to year. This points to the change in scheme to me. Rodney Gnat is the team leader in sacks with six, the 12 other sacks came from 8 different players. That points heavily to the scheme, UC fans should remember just how much trouble this scheme gave UC in the Sugar Bowl, admittedly with much better talent then. I would be lying if I said that the prospect of facing this scheme with this offensive line gave me pause for concern.

If there is an area of this defense that is exploitable it has to be their run defense. They gave up an average of 200 yards per game against Arkansas State, Kentucky and Oregon State. Of those three Kentucky is the only rush offense that could be classified as good, Arkansas State and Oregon State are pretty average to below average running the Football.

I think that this defense does provide a chance for the UC offense to go off in a big way. The Cards are going to struggle to keep Isaiah Pead from getting loose. As I have point out in the past once the running game gets going for UC the entire offense becomes a complete group. I think that is going to be the difference.

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