Secondary concerns

Louisville's front seven is strong, but defensive coordinator Vance Bedford expressed concern about the Cardinals secondary after Saturday's first scrimmage of spring practice.

Vance Bedford was pleased with his players performance early in Saturday's first full-fledged spring scrimmage.

Defensive linemen B.J. Butler and Brandon Dunn both made sacks, as did middle linebacker Preston Brown. Bedford also praised the play of defensive ends Marcus Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin. Even true freshman linebacker Keith Brown stopped running back Jeremy Wright for no gain on third and goal from the five yard line.

While Louisville's defensive coordinator was pleased with his unit's start, he wasn't happy how they finished the scrimmage. Specifically, Bedford wasn't pleased that his defense allowed the offense to move the chains while backed up against their own end zone. Third down also was a troublesome situation for the Cardinals defense during the first scrimmage.

"We started off the scrimmage doing a pretty good job getting some three and outs early," Bedford said. "One thing we didn't do was finish. We had a situation where we had them backed up and we let them out every time. The one thing we must get better at to be successful on defense is being able to get stops, get off the field and shorten the field for our offense. We have a long way to go."

Midway through spring practice the front seven is the defenses strength, even with tackle Roy Philon sidelined due to injury. That was to be expected. The Cardinals have a lot of experience returning up front from a defense that ranked among the national Top 25 last season, including Preston Brown, an All-Big East candidate at linebacker.


Defensive end Marcus Smith is having a solid spring practice. (Jim Davis)
"Right now we're excited about a few guys," Bedford said. "Marcus Smith has made great progress. Lorenzo Mauldin has shown great progress up front. So those young kids who played as freshmen and sophomore last year they're making great strides right now."

Though Bedford is excited about the front seven, he has concerns in the secondary. Though the unit returns all four starters, corners Andrew Johnson and Adrian Bushell and safety's Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor, it's still a group that includes two true sophomores.

"Our biggest concern right now is in the secondary," Bedford said. "We have to get more productivity out of our corners. They're still young. We're going to have a lot of true sophomores and only two seniors on defense. So people don't realize we're still young. The expectations are a lot higher but you never know what to expect from young kids."

Louisville's secondary allowed big pass plays to DaVante Parker and Eli Rogers in the scrimmage. They were also burned several times on third and long, a down Bedford expects his players to step up, make plays and get off the field.

"We got in a situation [during the scrimmage] where we had third and longs and it's time for the DB's to step up and make a play -- we get a post thrown for a big play," said Bedford. "We have a corner who doesn't make a play, a safety who should have been in the middle of the field who wasn't. We gave up a touchdown and two other long passes on a third and long situation. If that happens you are not going to win. We gave up three big plays, that's how you lose games."

Bedford wants to see considerable progress this spring from Johnson, who started last year as a true freshman. Sophomore Terrell Floyd seems to be making a move at cornerback, while promising redshirt corner Charles Gaines sits out with a shoulder injury.

"Andrew Johnson has to get a lot better," Bedford said. "We have Gaines who can't practice because he has two [injured] shoulders. A guy who did step up was [Terell] Floyd. I think we saw some things out of him today to give us depth at that position."

True freshmen linebackers Keith Brown and James Burgess also saw considerable reps during the scrimmage Saturday. Brown worked with both the first and second team, while Burgess saw reps with the second unit.

"They are freshman. Today we hit for real and they looked just like freshmen," Bedford said. "They had no idea what to do. Coach gave us all kind of misdirection plays and they were going the wrong way and dropping coverage. They looked just like freshmen should look, confused."


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