It's all about tackling for the Cardinals

The University of Louisville defense has allowed just 14 points this season with the first-team defense giving up just one touchdown. The Cardinals will get tested against Kentucky's Air Raid on Saturday. How will the Cardinals stack up?

After two games, the University of Louisville defense is playing at a high level this season, allowing just 14 points and 239 yards a game.

And U of L defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said it's not by accident the Cardinals' are playing better because they've improved tackling.

Some of the big plays that hurt the defense last season were because guys broke tackles at – or near – the line of scrimmage and were off to the races.

"We're getting numbers to the ball," Bedford said. "Last year, we might have a guy run the ball and we miss a tackle and he goes 40 or 50 yards and makes a play. But this year we have four and five guys around the ball.

"We're getting to the ball and if one guys misses a tackle, other guys are there."

U of L does have 13 different players with five or more tackles through two games, including nine of those with tackles for a loss and five sacks.

"We're doing a better job of tacking, we spent a lot of time on that in preseason," safety Calvin Pryor said. "It's been good so far."

But now the Cardinals will get a "major test" as U of L coach Charlie Strong put it on Monday. U of L plays at Kentucky on Saturday at noon and the Cardinals will play against an up-temp – Air Raid – offense that has two quarterbacks (Max Smith and Jalen Whitlow) and wants to run at a high-octane pace.

"It's difficult," Bedford said. "There's no way you can get the speed in practice. It will take a couple of series for the players to get adjusted and hopefully fall into place and do some good things."

So far this season, the defense has been in good position.

U of L quarterback Teddy Bridgewater goes against the U of L defense each day in practice and is sold on the Cardinals ‘D'.

"I feel like we have one of the best defenses in the country," Bridgewater said. "It starts with those guys in the middle and they're playing well right now.

"Our defense is really playing well."

U of L senior lineman Brandon Dunn of PRP High School said he feels like the U of L defense is better this season because of the aggressive nature and because the defense is having fun playing the new style.

Bedford said in the preseason the Cardinals would be more aggressive and he's been sending a lot of guys on blitzes during the first two games.

"Aggression and being aggressive," Dunn said. "Go out there flying around and having fun. A lot of plays have been made on defense because we are having fun. We are loose and having a lot of fun and a lot of trash talk between our team.

"We are out there competing with each other. I know me, personally, I look to the right and tell Roy Philon that I'm about to get this tackle. When we come to the sidelines and coach tells us the corrections we need to make. Once he leaves, we turn around and smile and say, ‘You see me on that tackle?' It's an aggressive defense and we're having a lot of fun making plays."

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