Following three consecutive seasons with a defense ranked among the naton's top 25, the University of Louisville is employing a more attacking style in 2013. The success of the Cardinals defense will be determined by how well the defensive front performs.
Smith, 6-foot-3, 256-pounds, finished second on the team with four sacks and led the team with seven tackles for a loss last season.
"Marcus Smith is a guy that probably had his best game against Florida in the bowl game last year," said defensive coordinator Vance Bedford.
Lorenzo Mauldin enters his junior season with lofty goals. The 6-foot-4, 243-pound end has set a goal to establish a new sack record this season and he has the motor to give it a shot. He started six games last season, recording 22 tackles and a team-high 4.5 sacks.
"He goes 100 mph every single snap," said Bedford.
Brandon Dunn and Roy Philon will hold down the middle of the line for the Cardinals. The two seniors both measure in at 6-foot-3, 300-pounds and will be counted on to fill voids left by injuries to the Cardinals two nose tackles.
"With the front four we have now, we are looking for some big things from those guys," said Bedford. "We're more athletic than we have been for the past three years."
Injuries to nose tackles Jamaine Brooks and DeAngelo Brown have forced the coaching staff to make some adjustments and opened the door for a few freshmen to see the field.
"In the second unit, you are looking at Mount, De'Asian Richardson is coming in and getting a lot snaps for us, Shortridge is getting a lot of snaps for us, but we have enough guys in that defensive front that we can move around and rotate guys," said head coach Charlie Strong.
The junior from Fort Walton Beach, Fla, has continually improved his game by since arriving at Louisville in 2011 and is primed to have a breakout season.
"He's another 6-foot-4, 250-pound type guy that should give us a lot better pass rush than we've had in the past," said Bedford.
In his two previous seasons, Mount has made eight starts and will backup senior Marcus Smith this fall. Last season he registered 26 tackles, including 2.5 sacks and 4 tackles for a loss.
At 6-foot-3, 285-pounds, Richardson has the combination of great size and speed.
A product of Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast, the true freshman tackle has received a high number of snaps working with the second team defensive line.
"He is big, he is big, and he is big," said Bedford. "At this time he looks like a big freshman out of high school that does not know how to play, does not know how to use his hands and does not know how to finish things yet, but in about two years, people are going to say, who is that and how did he get there. He's going to be a really good player. You can see the potential, but he is no where near ready to play this season."
As his progession continues, along with the need to find depth due to injuries, Richardson will likely see time on the field this fall.
*Sophomore Sheldon Rankins entered camp as the backup to Philon at defensive tackle. He suffered a high ankle sprain early in camp, but is expected to return soon.
*Nick Dawson has bounced between defensive end and linebacker during the spring and summer. The former four-star prospect has the potential to make an impact at either spot this fall.
*Kyle Shortridge is another freshman that has been impressive during fall camp. The 6-foot-2, 297-pound defensive tackle has received a number of snaps with the second team and could see action this fall.
*Freshman defensive tackle Finesse Middleton was a mid-year enrollee, allowing him to get a head start on grasping the defensive schemes.
*Later today we will have features on defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin and defensive tackle Brandon Dunn.
*Our position series will continue tomorrow with a look at the Cardinals deep and talented group of wide receivers.