Last Saturday the University of Louisville suffered a painful loss at Clemson, but despite the defeat, the Cardinals defense firmly established itself as one of the top defenses in college football.
The defense entered the contest rated as the nation's best and only strengthened that lofty position with its performance in 'Death Valley.' Clemson’s passing attack was considered to be one of the best in the ACC, but was unable to score a touchdown against the stout U of L defense.
The Louisville secondary helped hold the Tigers to 157 passing yards, nearly half their season average. Ball-hawking safety Gerod Holliman has proven himself as a leader in the secondary, and is still looking for ways he can help improve the players around him.
“I give help to my teammates, recognize formations and tendencies of the offense and get everybody going,” Holliman explained.
Holliman said that one thing the coaching staff has done a good job of is teaching him the routes the wide receivers run, and putting him position to make plays. With 5 games left Holliman is only three interceptions away from tying the single season interception record at Louisville.
“It’s definitely a goal of mine,” says Holliman. “If the quarterback throws it my way, I’m going to make a play on it.”
As he entered the season, Holliman, a high school U.S. Army All-American, had huge shoes to fill. The loss of four-year starter Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor, a first-round draft selection, left a significant void and preseason concerns.
“Gerod has a great work ethic he’s always trying to get better in all phases of his game,” said safeties coach Greg Brown. “He’s strong in a lot of areas he’s doing nothing but working to improve and get everything up to even keel and play at the top of his game.”The defense is only looking to improve, as last week they got a big addition with the return of Jermaine Reve, a player who gives the Cardinals more options and depth in the secondary.
“There are other people who have all sorts of physical characteristics and traits that you look for but they cant process and see and react fast enough,” said Brown. “These two guys (Reve, Holliman) these are a couple of defensive backs who can and as a result they make plays.”
Louisville is currently ranked second in the nation against the pass and for the second consecutive week is the top-rated defense in the country.