Defense struggles in the red zone

One of Brent Guy's main focuses coming into fall camp was getting his defense off the field on third down. Louisville's defensive coordinator wasn't happy with his unit's performance in the red zone during Saturday's scrimmage, especially on third down.

"We didn't do well in the red zone," Guy said. "We play a little different in the red zone like everyone does but I felt like we didn't make the plays down there. Both times they scored in the red zone they converted on a third down play to continue the drive on us instead of making them kick the field goal. That's an area we've got to work on."

Though his defense forced one turnover - a pass intercepted by defensive end Greg Scruggs - in the scrimmage, Guy said his troops still need to make basic improvement before the season opens September 5 vs. Indiana State at PJCS.

"We did create one turnover but we have some issues with basic things like screens and a couple of basic running plays," Guy said. "I'm not pleased with our two minute work. We're not where we need to be with that but we've got two weeks to work on it."

Guy said he wants to see improved cohesion from his defense. "We weren't all on the same page a lot of times when the ball was inbounds," Guy said. "We have to be running, getting the call and getting lined up and making sure we're communicating."

A major breakdown in the secondary resulted in a long touchdown to wide receiver Troy Pascley.

"One time we came out of coverage and gave up a touchdown," Guy said. "Those are things you've got to learn. Hopefully we can learn them in practice and not in game situations. We allowed a big throw on us and we can't allow that to happen."

While the execution on defense wasn't perfect, Guy was pleased with the effort he saw on the field.

"I'm pretty pleased with most of the effort," said Guy. "I thought the first group that we put in there played with pretty good intensity. We rolled quite a few guys through and fortunately we didn't get anybody hurt."

Another area of concern for the defense – allowing too many big plays on first down. Guy said his defense faced too many second down and short situations – situations not conducive to good defensive play.

"We weren't bad on third and medium our problem was on first and ten and second and short," said Guy. "It felt like we got in too many of those situations today where we gave up too much on first down. I felt like on the third downs we did alright early in the scrimmage."

Guy is still trying to put things together in the secondary, one of the major areas of concern coming into fall camp. Johnny Patrick is a lock at cornerback. Richard Raglin, Chaz Thompson and junior college transfer Terence Simien are being counted on at safety. Now, Guy needs to find another starting cornerback. Sophomore Kardell Dunning and JUCO transfer Preston Pace are battling each other for the starting position.

"We've got to find the guy that wants to be left on the island and know that we can count on him not to get the ball thrown over his head," Guy said. "Somebody's got to say ‘I'm the guy.' And we don't have that yet."

Guy expects big things from Simien, a 6-3, 205 pound free safety.

"He makes plays and shows up around the football," Guy said. "We won't see the best of him until toward the end but early you're going to see him in there a lot, on special teams also."

Guy also is still trying to find answers up front. With tackles Tyler Jessen and Joe Townsend both out with injuries depth is a big concern. L.T. Walker and L.D. Scott are a solid duo inside. Rodney Gnat and Greg Scruggs are both young but athletic on the end. Besides improving depth, another big question is whether or not the defensive line can apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks.

"We are at times (getting pressure) but we get tired in two minute – that's usually when it shows up," Guy said. "We had to add to it a couple times to get some pressure. Rodney Gnat is doing a good job getting on the edge and so is Scruggs. And I think Dexter Heyman will eventually be a guy who can do that. And L.D. Scott has great effort inside. We're pleased with him. He had an unbelievable play two days ago on the goal line that we showed to the whole team."

Cardinal Authority Top Stories