For the record, Lamar Jackson is the scheduled starting quarterback for Louisville in the Music City Bowl against Texas A&M.
Here's the rest of the notebook:
Defensive Scouting Report
U of L offensive coordinator Garrick McGee provided a quick report on the Texas A&M defense, which enters the game at No. 42 nationally in total defense. A closer look at the Aggies shows a defensive group that attacks consistently upfront.
“They are talented,” said McGee. “They are a tall, long group on the defensive front. They create a lot of havoc. Obviously they are in the backfield a lot. They are a penetrating defense.”
Texas A&M is third nationally with 103 total tackles for a loss, led by sophomore defensive lineman Myles Garrett with in eighth in the country with 18.5. Garrett's 11.5 sacks on the season is fifth among all FBS players.
“(They have) great get-off,” said McGee. “They do a good job of studying the quarterback's cadence, so they are able to jump the cadence and get in the backfield.”
It's pass rush can disrupt an opposing passing attack, where the Aggies check in at No. 14 against the pass. They have recorded more interceptions (11) than given up touchdown passes (8).
Offensive Scouting Report
The Aggies offense will enter the Music City Bowl at No. 48 in total offense. Throwing for an average of 251 yards, while rushing for 171 yards per game, Texas A&M will bring a balanced attack to Nashville, Tenn.
“They like to run the ball probably more than people think,” said U of L defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. “They've always had good offensive linemen and they are physical upfront. So, when you spread guys out and you're physical upfront, you're going to have the ability to create seams for your runner, as well as if you tried to load the box, you throw it outside to guys who can make plays one-on-one.”
Here's a couple names to remember. Senior running back Tra Carson, averaging 4.8 yards per carry, has just over 1,000 yards on the season. Freshman wide receiver Christian Kirk leads the Aggies with 1,614 all-purpose yards.
“They have really good skill guys,” said Grantham. “When you have guys that have skill and they're able to get the ball on the perimeter and you have space, guys with athletic ability can turn a missed tackle into a double-digit gain.”
What the Aggies don't have is their starting quarterback. Sophomore Kyle Allen, who threw for over 2,200 yards has left the program to transfer, so the reigns will likely be handed to freshman Kyler Murray. Murray has appeared in nine games and has completed 72 of 121 attempts for 686 yards and five touchdowns, with seven interceptions. The rookie is also a threat to run at any time, finishing second on the team with 335 yards.
Despite the change at quarterback, the Cardinals defense will continue to prep the same.
“They still run their system,” said Grantham. “They have two quarterbacks that have played for them this year, and obviously they have a guy transferring. They've pretty much stuck to the system that they run, so we'll continue to prepare for the way they've played this year. We have a lot of tape on them and all three guys have played, so we'll just continue to work their system.”
Mini Training Camp
While the coaching staff has started game-planning for the Music City Bowl, the players are experiencing a training camp type atmosphere on the practice fields.
For the first week of bowl practice, the coaches will work directly with the younger members of the roster, those that have spent the season working on the scout team and others that have received limited game experience.
“This week will be important for us, because we'll get a lot better this week,” said McGee. “That's the benefit of being in a bowl game. Our young kids, our kids that redshirted will get a lot of reps this week and we'll be able to go back and re-teach our schemes almost like we're in training camp mode for this first week before we go all-in game plan.”
“They know they are going to get plenty of work. These guys that have been redshirted and are on the look squad and giving looks, they are in the mix now because this is pretty much spring ball for them.”
Devonte Fields Returning?
The Cardinals junior arrived at Louisville just as spring practice was set to begin, and he did so with very high expectations. The former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Fields spent a year in junior college before arriving in the Derby City.
Following a slow start, Fields proved to be one of the top defensive linemen in the ACC. He finished the regular season with 19.5 tackles for a loss, good for second best in the country, and eight sacks.
“I think he grinded his way through a really good year” said Grantham. “I think when you look at the last half of the year he was a guy that really stepped up and performed.”
While there has been growing speculation that the Fort Worth, Tex., native would depart for the NFL Draft following the bowl game, Grantham anticipates having him back for his senior season.
“I'm really excited about what he can do moving forward, meaning that he's going to be here for a full year,” he said. “He's going to be with our strength staff, who I think is the best in the country at what they do when look in terms of developing guys and maintaining a guys health. He gets to work with those guys come next semester and then we get him for a whole spring practice with him and then we get him again in the summer.”
When asked if he expects Fields to return, Grantham replied, “yeah.”
Asked further for his thoughts on players entering the NFL Draft early, Grantham said all should test the waters, but consider a return if not projected an early round selection.
“I think everybody should check,” he said. “If you are a first-round pick you should go, but if you're not a first-round pick you should stay in school and get your degree because at the end of the day, most guys are only going to play three to four years on average.”
Both Grantham and McGee has positive injuries reports on Monday.
“I think we're fine,” said Grantham. “I would think by the end of the week that everyone would be practicing and we'll be fine.”
McGee added that he's expecting his group to be at full strength for the bowl game.
“Jamari has been out there with us, running and catching, and he feels good about where he is. We're still a few weeks away from the game, so I expect him to be at full speed and ready to go.”
“Brandon was on the field with us this weekend and ran well. Our athletic trainers obviously did a great job with him and getting him back on the field.”