The University of Louisville offense showed signs of life Saturday against North Carolina, thanks in large part to the return of Michael Dyer and DeVante Parker.
But another U of L offensive player was making his first start of the season that might be a little less noticeable to the fans.
Junior offensive lineman Aaron Epps, who has only been playing football since his junior year in high school, was inserted into the lineup Saturday to try and improve an offensive line that has not lived up to expectations this season.
"I really wasn't nervous for my first start," Epps said. "I just had to calm down and make sure I did my job."
The 6-foot-7, 290-pound Epps has worked extremely hard to earn a starting role, and even completely transformed his body adding almost 60 pounds since he arrived on campus prior to the 2011 season.
”I’m always going to work hard,” Epps said. “In the spring I was running with the 1’s. So I was just going to keep doing the same thing no matter what.”
Playing in the spot where Ryan Mack had been starting, Epps was able to make an impact Saturday night. The offense took a step forward, according to head coach Bobby Petrino, in the win over the Wolfpack.
Quarterback Will Gardner had time to throw the ball – more so than past games – and Dyer was able to find the holes.
“We had one play going to the left, I told him (Dyer) keep it outside, just run behind me,” Epps said. “I told him if he did that he’d be alright.”
The improvement the offensive line made with the addition of Epps in the lineup even drew praises Petrino, who thought the running game was better and they protected the quarterback for much of the game.
“I was excited for Aaron, he’s worked extremely hard,” Petrino said. “He’s always had a positive attitude, and it was good to see him have success.”
Epps said he will continue to work just like he always has in practice no matter what happens the rest of the season. But he has an idea of how the final few games are going to work out for him on the line.
“As of right now that is my spot to lose, that’s how I see it,” he said with a smile.