Depth on the defensive front was expected to be one of the Cardinals primary strengths, and with Greg Scruggs, Brandon Dunn and B.J. Butler sidelined with injury, that certainly appeared the case in UofL's 21-9 win over the Racers.
Four true freshmen saw action defensively against the Racers, – tackle Jamon Brown, end B.J. Dubose, cornerback Andrew Johnson and safety Calvin Pryor – helping the Cardinals limit Murray State to just 291 yards, including 148 through the air.
"I tell our guys all time they're not freshmen anymore," Strong said. "It's time to grow up and play."
Dubose, a 6'4, 257-pound defensive end from Miami, Fla., and Johnson, who started at cornerback, made the biggest impacts for Strong's defense.
"The positives are the young guys were making some plays, talking about guys like BJ Dubose and Andrew (Johnson)," said middle linebacker Dexter Heyman. "Those guys are really stepping up for us and becoming players. You can look at our young talent and know our defensive line and our secondary is going to be great for years to come."
"BJ Dubose played very well," Strong said. "He was the one that hit the quarterback from the blindside where the ball kind of fluttered up that Dexter intercepted. He made some really long runs where he ran the ball down from behind."
Dubose, who switched his commitment from Miami to Louisville on signing day, said he can play a lot better than he did against Murray State.
"I came out a little nervous and I could have done a lot better," he said. "We're going to face a lot tougher teams and have to get after it this week in practice."
Heyman, who benefitted from Dubose's quarterback pressure, was impressed by the freshman defensive lineman's attitude on the field.
"BJ Dubose flew to the ball and that's something you like to see from a young guy with a lot of talent," Heyman said. "I liked his arrogance, and I don't mean it in a bad way. He comes out with a certain cockiness that you have to have to compete on the football field – that, "They can't block me,' attitude."
Making his first start at corner, Johnson, a 5'9 Miami native, was solid against the Racers. He didn't allow big plays downfield and broke up a pass early in the game.
"When you look at Andrew, he's very good technically," Heyman said. "His pedal is good, his break is really good. He has exceptional instincts. Andrew Johnson is going to be a really good player for us this year and a guy that we're looking to make a lot of big plays."
Notable Impact FreshmenCalvin Pryor, Safety – 2 tackles vs. Murray State
DeVante Parker, Wide Receiver – 3 catches, 55 yards, 39-yard TD reception
Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback – 0-1 passing, 1 interception