Louisville looking for a stout five on line

Cardinal Authority is counting down the days until the University of Louisville football team starts the season on Sept. 5 against Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A Classic at the Georgia Dome. It's 67 days before the game and we take a look at the offensive line for the Cardinals.

The battle for the starting quarterback position will get the most attention this fall as the University of Louisville football team prepares for fall camp.

But it’s not the most important battle on the team.

The Cardinals will be looking to replace three mainstays on the offensive line and it’s the front five that have a lot of U of L fans fretting.

John Miller and Jamon Brown were both taken in the NFL Draft, Jake Smith will be on an NFL roster in training camp. The three combined for more than 100 starts and a bevy of big blocks for the Cardinals.

But offensive coordinator Garrick McGee is confident the Cardinals’ staff will be able to piece together a solid line with the parts in the program.

”We have some guys,” McGee said. “Some guys who have been around and we brought in some really good guys. We are looking for five.

”You really want to find five and get that chemistry going. We want to get five in sync and then we will worry about the depth.”

The Cardinals have options.

Aaron Epps is the likely right tackle after starting there in the end of last season, while Kelby Johnson, Skylar Lacy and Pedro Sibiea were all backups last year.

Lukayas McNeil and Danny Burns were redshirts last season.

Khalil Hunter is a junior-college transfer the staff is high on after spring ball, while Kiola Mahoni is a JUCO transfer who is now enrolled in school.

There are other newcomers, including true freshmen Geron Christian and Kenny Thomas, who will battle for playing time.

McGee said the key spot is at center. Tobijah Hughley started all but one game there and is a former walk-on. T.C. Klusman is the backup and had a solid spring, while Hunter also saw some snaps at center.

”We didn’t have a lot of balls on the ground in the spring, which is what we want obviously,” McGee said. “They did a really good job in the spring for us. The center is the quarterback of the line, so that’s an important spot.”

U of L coach Bobby Petrino called the line a “work in progress.”

”But we’ve got some people we think can step up and do the job,” he said.

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