Defensive line injuries concern Hurtt

Louisville's defensive line was expected to be the strength of Charlie Strong's defense this season. But injuries to starters Greg Scruggs, B.J. Butler and Brandon Dunn has Clint Hurtt concerned enough that he's preparing three freshmen to play next week against Murray State.

Louisville's defensive line was expected to be the strength of Charlie Strong's defense this season.

It still might be, but Clint Hurtt, Louisville's defensive line coach, is concerned about injuries to three projected starters heading into next week's season-opener against Murray State.

As the season approaches, the Cardinals are practicing without starting defensive ends Greg Scruggs (foot) and B.J. Butler (knee) and starting tackle Brandon Dunn (foot). Though Scruggs is expected to return this week, it's uncertain when Dunn and Butler might return.

"(Reserve tackle) Roy Philon is included in that list, too," Hurtt told after Monday's practice. "I'm definitely concerned about the four of them, particularly number 44 (Butler) and number 6 (Scruggs). Those are probably our two best guys, head and shoulders, right now."

Ten days until the 2011 season opener, Hurtt is hoping to get all of his defensive linemen back from injury soon.

"There are some concerns, some issues," he said. "But football is a physical game and there are going to be some bumps and bruises. Hopefully we should get those guys back pretty soon."

Whether or not Scruggs, Butler, Dunn and Philon are ready against Murray is unclear at this point.

"It's all up in the air right now," Hurtt said. "Their rehabs are going well. We had a very physical camp because we wanted to build some mental and physical toughness with the group. I believe in due time they'll be ready."

With three starters out of commission, Hurtt has been forced to give B.J. Dubose, Jamon Brown and Deiontrez Mount more reps in practice during preseason camp. All three talented true freshmen are expected to play this season.

"Jamon Brown, Deiontrez Mount are getting additional reps and we had to train Randy Salmon to do some different things in the scheme of the defense," Hurtt said. "You've always got to find the positives in what seems like a negative situation."

Clint Hurtt believes B.J. Dubose is physically ready to play this season.
Hurtt told last month that he hoped to redshirt Brown, a 6-6, 325-pound tackle from Fern Creek. Now, Hurtt is counting on Brown to help the situation on Louisville's defensive line.

"I would say he's going to have to play and help us," Hurtt said. "We don't have the luxury yet to redshirt a lot of kids. It's going to have to be baptism by fire, like it was last season for Brandon Dunn. Obviously, as the season progressed, (Dunn) got better and better and better and that's the plan with Jamon."

Hurtt is also preparing the 6'5, 265-pound Dubose and 6'5, 230-pound Mount to see action at defensive end next week against the Racers.

"Dubose and Mount are going to play significant minutes," said Hurtt. "You will see a ton of those guys in the first game. Whether we play three or four down against Murray State will determine who plays and how much. That hasn't been determined."

Dubose, one of the top defensive linemen in Florida last season, has impressed with Strong with his strength and readiness physically to play at this level.

"Dubose is an enormous talent," Hurtt said. "He's extremely strong and very athletic and fluid. But he's very raw. I don't believe he had a d-line coach in high school. He's getting all of his teaching out here. He's absorbing it but it's a lot (to learn). Sometimes he does too much thinking and I have to tell him to focus on one thing each day to get better that day."

"His biggest strength is the point of contact," added Hurtt. "For a freshman at the point of contact he's unbelievable. He's very powerful, very strong and can get off of blocks. In terms of understanding keys, pre-snap tips, those are the things he has to continue to learn."

While Mount isn't as physically prepared to play as Dubose, Hurtt said he has a better understanding of the scheme.

"Right now he's not as physically ready as Dubose, but mentally he's about as sharp a kid as you're going to get," Hurtt said.

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