Mack, Garcia continue to improve

University of Louisville sophomore right tackles Ryan Mack and Nacho Garcia have performed well during the Cardinals 4-0 start and continue improve as conference play begins this weekend.

Much of the early success enjoyed by the University of Louisville's 4-0 start can be credited to the Cardinals offensive line. The rebuilt front five have excelled at keeping quarterback Teddy Bridgewater protected and are constantly improving in the creating space in the running game.

Among the key components for the line was the development of right tackles Ryan Mack and Nacho Garcia. The two sophomores saw limited action last season and are now splitting time on the line.

The pair have helped the Cardinals passing game by keeping one of the game's best quarterbacks clean, allowing just three sacks on the season, which ranks 6th in the NCAA.

"It feels good and it puts us out there," Mack said. "We do have the best quarterback in the nation and we have to protect him and that looks good for us."

"One thing about him is he isn't worried about accolades, it's all about the team for him. If you're not doing your job, he'll get after you, so you have to do your job for Teddy."

Garcia added that their job remains the same despite who is behind center.

"I feel it's no different if it's Teddy back there, Will Gardner back there or Kyle Bolin back there. Coach preaches the same thing, protect and we'll win. You can't think about who's back there, you just have to do your job and help make sure the person behind you or next to you is doing their job."

After struggling to run the ball early against rival Kentucky , the line began to click and helped the ground attack gain over 240 yards in the 27-13 victory. A week later the running game accounted for 210 yards in the 72-0 crushing of Florida International.

"We get thrown off a little because teams throw things at us that we haven't seen, but overall we just put our heads down, we'll make our push and things will work out," Garcia said of the improving running game. "We have to keep getting better with that. We have to get better every day."

"Every time they touch the ball it could be a long one," said Mack of the Cardinals talented backfield. "Dominique went for 77 yards and he pretty much did that on his own. We missed a couple blocks, but he was still able to do what he had to.

Despite the easy win over FIU, the line gained valuable experience for both the starting five and reserves.

"You see what you got in those starting five and the people coming off the bench, it shows you were you are at, even with the future," said Mack. "We're coming together really good. As the season goes on we'll see how it goes."

While the two split time at the same spot on the line, the goal is to help each other improve.

"We don't really compete against each other," said Garcia. "We work to make sure that we are doing our job and that the guys behind us and next to us are doing their jobs."

"We all have a very close relationship," he added.

As conference play begins, which Garcia described as "the heart of the season," the line will continue to be the focal point for success.

"We have to continue to work," Mack explained. "However the offensive line room goes, the team goes. We have to protect the quarterback and we have to be able to run the ball."

7th-ranked Louisville travels to Temple for it's AAC opener this weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.

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