Kragthorpe: Cornerback area of concern

The departure of seniors William Gay and Gavin Smart has left a sizable void among Louisville's group of cornerbacks. Despite the loss of the team's number two tackler and 75% of the team's interception total, U of L head coach Steve Kragthorpe is confident that the experience and depth is available.

When University of Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe welcomes his first Cardinals squad to the opening of spring practice on Friday, he and his defensive assistants will be challenged to locate and develop quality depth at the cornerback position.

The departure of seniors William Gay and Gavin Smart from a U of L defense that was the best of the Big East Conference in limiting opposing quarterbacks by allowing just a meager 50.2% completion rate, is an area of concern for the Cardinals head coach.

"We have some guys coming back that have some good experience, but certainly that's an area were we lose some very good players," said Kragthorpe. "Two All-Conference performers that were very good players throughout the course of their careers here that will be missed, yet at the same time that creates an opportunity for some guys to step up and play more of a significant role then they have in the past."

Juniors Rod Council and Bobby Buchanan each have plenty of game experience. Despite battling injuries throughout their career, the two have played in at least 20 games, with Council notching 13 career starts. Their experience will be counted on as 75% of the teams interception total and 41% of the passes defended last year are gone.

Fellow juniors Travis Norton and Lamar Alston will also get strong looks at corner this spring. Both were a fixture on the Cardinals special teams squad and served as reserve corners last fall. Redshirt freshman Craig James had a great fall and should also challenge for time at corner this spring.

Johnny Patrick will make the move
to corner this spring
Additional help could emerge from redshirt freshman Johnny Patrick. A former Florida Top 100 receiver prospect, Patrick will make the move to corner this spring.

"Johnny Patrick is going to play corner for us," said Kragthorpe. "He's a redshirt freshman that I think has a lot of ability and talent. It will be fun to see him grow and progress for the next 15 days."

For Kragthorpe's first Louisville team to continue to build upon the success of recent years, strong play will be needed from the corners this spring and fall.

"My defensive philosophy is really pretty simple," said Kragthorpe. "Be sound against the run in terms of gap integrity, don't get the ball thrown over your head and sack the quarterback. It's pretty simple, but not getting the ball thrown over your head has a lot to do with the corners, so we are going to have to be very good there."

While an area of concern heading into spring practice, Kragthorpe believes the next few weeks will do a lot in the development of the Cardinal cornerbacks.

"The best part about our situation here at Louisville is that we the chance to challenge each other on a daily basis," said Kragthorpe. "Our corners are going to be challenged by excellent wide receivers and our receivers are going to be challenged by good corners and that's how you get better."

Spring practice begins Friday at 4:50 p.m. and will be held inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

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