Cardinals secondary is spring surprise

Despite losing three key members from the '06 squad, the University of Louisville secondary performed well this spring. caught up with secondary coach Mike Mallory moments after the defense's 51-45 win in the spring game.

Despite losing three key members from last year's team and enduring it's share of bumps in bruises throughout the past three weeks of practice, the University of Louisville's secondary emerged as one of the biggest surprises of the spring.

"The guys have been working very hard," said U of L secondary coach Mike Mallory following Friday night‘s spring game. "I think that we have shown improvement each week out and it's paying off. Every time that we have walked off the field we were better than when we walked on. We have some good young talent, so it's just a matter of keep working our technique and then knowing that when you are in a position to make the play, that you have to make the play."

Defensive Coordinator Mike Cassity spent much of his time working with the secondary this spring
Throughout Friday night's spring game, the secondary made one big play after another. 35 percent of the White team's scoring in it's 51-45 win over the Red team came directly from interceptions made by the Cardinals secondary.

Sophomore Latarrius Thomas gave the defensive squad it's first lead of the game when he stepped in front of Mario Urrutia along the home sideline to pick off a Brian Brohm pass. The opening drive of the second half appeared destined for the end zone, but after marching 51 yards in two plays, senior safety Jon Russell made a play on the ball to record the second interception of the evening. Cornerback Rod Council added a third interception late in the third quarter to give the White team a 42-31 advantage.

"We've had our moments in the spring," Mallory said. "We just needed to be consistent, so it was good to see how we came out and played. We have to trust our technique, play fast, fly around and make the plays when we have to and there have been times when we hadn't done that this spring, but I think we did (in the spring game)."

Paducah, Ky native Lamar Alston
In addition to the strong play by the experienced starters, Mallory is excited about the continued development of the those with less game time experience. Lamar Alston led the team with two pass break-ups on Friday night, while Travis Norton finished third on the team with 5 tackles, including one for a loss.

Redshirt freshman Johnny Patrick, a former three-star wide receiver prospect, was one of the bigger surprises of the spring. After making the move to the defensive side of the ball prior to spring ball, Patrick was receiving snaps with the first team defense by the end of the spring. He continued to play well on Friday night, when he recorded 3.5 tackles and broke up a third quarter pass from Brian Brohm that was intended for Mario Urrutia.

"Johnny has done a great job," Mallory said. "He's a guy that works hard. He has a lot of skill - he's real quick with his feet. He needs to keep developing because he can be a real good football player for us. He's certainly one of our up-and-coming guys."

Cornerback Johnny Patrick
Fellow redshirt freshman Brandon Heath had hoped to play in the secondary last year, but a number of injuries sidelined the safety for the season. While he didn't receive clearance to participate in practice until week three, Heath began showing promise quickly and is expected to compete for a starting position this fall.

"We saw him start to do some great things," Mallory said. "He has a good feel for what his responsibility is. He's a guy with a lot of talent and we would just like to get him back completely healthy and going. He's a big hitter and very athletic."

The competition that a completely healthy Brandon Heath will provide in fall camp will only strengthen an already tough group of Cardinal safeties. The arrival of ‘07 junior college signee's Woodney Turenne and Chaz Thompson, both of who have 4.3 type speed, will make the Cardinal cornerbacks deeper and potentially better.

"We want the competition because it makes everybody better," Mallory said. "That's what it is going to be so exciting this fall. Watching the guys coming out and competing every day will be exciting. The ones that can do that and be the most consistent will be the ones playing on game day."


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