Louisville defense opens camp strong

The 2007 version of the Cardinal defense opened fall camp on Thursday evening with plenty of intensity. InsideTheVille.com visited with defensive coordinator Mike Cassity following the 2-hour practice session to get his thoughts on day one.

Expect much of the same when the Louisville defense takes the field for the first time this season. Since Mike Cassity took over the reigns of the defense in 2004, the Cardinals have finished in the top 40 after each season and that trend should continue in 2007.

Despite practicing without pads on day one of fall camp, Cassity's squad is already showing the characteristics that have become the norm the past few seasons. During skellie action on Thursday evening, the defense was flying around the field, racing to the football and making the big plays.

"It was hot out there and I thought our guys battled through the heat," Cassity said following the two-hour practice session. "I thought it was pretty good for a first day in regards to carry-over with our alignments and assignments."

Losses to graduation and the NFL have created opportunities for returning members of the team to make their case for playing time.

"We have a lot of guys that have played a lot of football," Cassity said. "Depending on who you listen to, there are concerns about depth in the secondary, but we have a lot of guys that have played a lot of defense in the secondary."

Junior cornerbacks Bobby Buchanan, Rod Council and Travis Norton, along with returning safeties Jon Russell and Latarrius Thomas, played key roles in helping Louisville's defense become the most stingiest against the pass in the Big East Conference in 2006.

In addition to the experienced returnees, a trio of junior college transfers are expected to make an impact and challenge for playing time immediately. On Thursday, cornerback Chaz Thompson and linebacker Willie Williams turned heads a few times and easily passed the eye test. Super-quick cornerback Woodny Turenne, who is still awaiting final transcript papers, also has high expectations.

"They are great athletes, but they still need to learn what to do," Cassity said of the highly-touted junior college signees. When it's simple, like right now because there aren't many calls, those guys show up. If we have to alter our defense to accommodate any of our players we will always address that."

The Cardinals will practice again on Friday and Saturday at 5:20 p.m. Fans are encouraged to attend, but no cameras or notebooks will be allowed.

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