Louisville's No. 1 defense has other goals

The University of Louisville football team has the No. 1 defense in the country through seven games, but the Cardinals are not satisfied. Several U of L defensive players talk about the rest of the season and one has a new goal in mind.

The University of Louisville defense is ranked No. 1 in the country after seven games, allowing just 230.7 yards a game.

But the Cardinals are not satisfied.

While U of L hasn't allowed an opponent to score an offensive touchdown in 17 quarters - dating back to the Viginia game on Sept. 13 - junior cornerback Charles Gaines said there's still some things the team can do better.

And one of the things is trying to not let North Carolina State - the opponent on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. - and future opponents from crossing mid-field.

"That's the new goal," Gaines said on Wednesday after practice. "As long as we don't let them across the 50, I do feel like, as a unit, that could be put on our board for our new goal, especially when we're at home. They can't cross the bird."

Gaines' new goal might not be that far-fetched. In the first seven games, U of L's defense has kept the opponents offense from crossing the 50 a whopping 61 percent of the time.

"We just have to play fast and play hard like we have been," Gaines said. "It's a blessing to be playing with all of these guys we have on defense. We just have to come out and do what we have been doing, make plays."

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham didn't have any specific goals in mind when he chatted with the media this week, but said there's still room to improve.

"We have a lot of ball games left, so we can improve and we will," Grantham said. "Each week is a new challenge and each week we have to get better.

"We don't worry about (rankings) or anything like that at all. We just want to win another game and do our part to play fast and get the win."

In his fist season, Grantham came in and changed the scheme for U of L from a traditional 4-3 defense to a 3-4 and the Cardinals have responded.

"They're disruptive in their front and they tackle in the end," N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. "And then in the back end, the safeties are making a ton of plays.

Their defensive coordinator does a great job of mixing things up and not being predictable. They do a good job of making plays on defense."

Louisville's defense has been so good that the six FBS opponents actually have more possessions ending in turnovers - 16.1 - than points - 12.9 against the Cardinals.

U of L has allowed just 99 total points, while holding opponents to 60.3 yards rushing and 170.4 yards passing on the season.

"We're proud to be the No. 1 defense," linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin said. "But we're not satisfied. We have to keep grinding and keep working.

"As a defensive player, you know there's always room to improve. There's always something you can get better at. I feel like we can do better at a lot of things and we still have some games to show that we can do that."

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