Marcus Smith tops the country

Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith leads the nation with 10.5 sacks. Following practice this week, the senior, along with defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, talked about the his play this season.

University of Louisville senior defensive end Marcus Smith, along with junior defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin, was named to the mid-season watch list for the 2013 Ted Hendricks award, which recognizes the nation's best defensive end.

"I'm proud of those guys, they have bought in, and they are working really hard, and they pay attention to the details," University of Louisville defensive line coach Clint Hurtt said. "Not only do they play hard, but they practice hard, and they are dedicated kids."

Smith along with Mauldin has been a force to reckon with at the defensive end position, and have been dominant on one of the best defensive units in the country. Smith took over as the nation's sack leader after recording 2.5 sacks in a 31-10 win over Connecticut to give him 10.5 this year. Over the last four games he has recorded 7.5 sacks, including a career high 3.0 against Rutgers.

"The fact that I can rush the passer, and sometimes I can rush from the inside or the outside, and I can do a lot of things that might hinder the offense from doing their job, and that's what in my mind makes me most effective," Smith said.

Even though the Georgia native is experiencing great success this season, it wasn't always like this as the former quarterback had to go through a learning curve himself.

"It started last year where things started making sense to him, but still at that point things were moving a little too fast, and it got better as the year went along, and that showed in the Sugar Bowl," Hurtt said. "Now all he has done is just building off the season he had last year, and he has an incredible future."

The senior defensive end admits that by a certain point in the game he can figure out what move is going to be most effective in getting to the opposing quarterback.

"Usually after the first two plays, sometimes if you sell speed first, and he reacts to it and you run by him, you know you have him," Smith said. "If he over sets you and you have good speed then you know you can come underneath."

Playing defensive end obviously has its perks, but to hear the nations sack leader tell it there are definitely some things that he could do without.

"I absolutely hate getting chipped by the opposing running back, but it's something that you have to fight through, and sometimes our coaches tell us to go hit the running back before he hits you," Smith said.

The nation's sack leader only looks to add to his total as the Cardinals are preparing to face the Houston Cougars. The Cardinals hope to get off to a much quicker start this week as they know it will be crucial.

"We need to come out and start fast this week obviously as it is an excellent offensive football team, and they can do a lot of things extremely well," Hurtt said.

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