U of L Defensive Coordinator Mike Cassity"> U of L Defensive Coordinator Mike Cassity">

Defense adjusting to Cassity's new schemes

"I think we'll be more multiple with our fronts and coverages than they were a year ago. And we'd like to pressure a little more." - <b>U of L Defensive Coordinator Mike Cassity</b>

When Mike Cassity became the University of Louisville's Defensive Coordinator after Mike Gillhamer left the Cardinal program to join the Carolina Panthers, he promised a more uptempo, pressurized defensive scheme than the one used by Gillhamer last season.

Through six practices this spring, Cassity has thrown quite a bit of change at his new defensive charges and feels the transition is progessing at a steady pace.

"We've thrown a lot at them in the last six practices," Cassity said. "Are we where we want to be right now? Yeah, we're making progress. Are we where we need to be right now? No. But, they are picking up what we're trying to expose them to."

Though Cassity is instituting several changes in the Cardinals defensive philosophy, not everything will be new when U of L takes the field September 5 against Kentucky.

"We're carrying over some of the things that were done a year ago," Cassity continued. "So there are some things that are different but there's a lot the same also."

Cassity said the biggest adjustment U of L's defenders will make this spring will be learning the multiple fronts and coverages that he intends to employ next season.

"I think we'll be more multiple with our fronts and coverages than they were a year ago," Cassity explained. "We'd like to pressure a little more. But here again, you've got to evaluate whether or not you can cover guys and get there [to the quarterback] when you do pressure. We're not making [a] committment one way or another - all zone or all man - we're going to mix it up."

One of major focuses this spring is developing quality depth on the defensive side of the ball, especially along the defensive front and at linebacker.

"You always want more depth but the guys we have are the ones we're going to play with," Cassity said.

To shore up some of the areas of concern depth-wise, Cassity said several true freshman will be given the opportunity to earn playing time next fall on defense.

"We'll always look at a true freshman to see if he can contribute," Cassity said. "But we'll never put a young man on the field that's not ready to play. In general, with today's football, a lot of people look at the freshman and give them an opportunity to compete."

Several redshirt freshman are seeing time on the two-deep this spring, too, and Cassity signaled out one player that has made quite an impression through the first week of practice.

"To be honest, I'm still trying to learn all the names and faces," Cassity said. "But, Malik Jackson has shown some promising signs [at safety]."

Another newcomer, converted wide receiver Antoine Sharp, has also received a close look at corner and appears to be making a nice transition to his new position.

"We stuck him out there at a new position and productivity is the bottom line - is he going to make the tackle or not?," Cassity said. "So we're going to evaluate that all through spring practice and with the limited live work you get during the spring you have to take advantage of it and show what you can do."

From an offensive player's perspective, running back Eric Shelton says he already notices significant improvement in the Cardinal defense since last season.

"I think Coach Cassity has done a great job with them," Shelton said of the defense. "I'm already noticing significant differences in the defense. The safeties and linebackers are doing a great job just coming up and taking holes away."

U of L head coach Bobby Petrino also likes the way his defense is playing, and is particularly happy about the way his defenders are running to the ball.

"Our defense is starting to really run to the ball, which I'm happy about," Petrino said. "I think we're picking up the new scheme real well."

The U of L defense will be back in action this afternoon at 4:00 pm on the practice fields just north of the football complex at PJCS.


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