UofL counting on freshmen defensive linemen

Greg Scruggs, a junior defensive tackle, and Malcolm Tatum, a senior end, have emerged as leaders on Louisville's defensive front. While those two appear set as starters, Louisville defensive line coach Clint Hurt tells InsideTheVille.com that he's expecting at least two newcomers to play on the line this season.

Greg Scruggs and Malcolm Tatum have emerged as leaders on Louisville's defensive line during fall camp.

Scruggs, a junior defensive tackle, moved from end last spring and has added more than 25 pounds to his frame during the off-season in an effort to compete better inside.

"Greg Scruggs went from 250 pounds and now he's 275 pounds," Hurtt said Thursday.

Tatum, who played in all 12 games last season after transferring from Gulf Coast (MS) C.C., has really emerged since spring practice. Hurtt sounds like he's expecting more than the 29 tackles the senior end recorded last season.

"Malcolm Tatum, he's faster and more athletic than he was last season," Hurtt said. "He played at 250 pounds last season. Now he's at 272. What [Strength] Coach [Pat] Moorer did was phenomenal."

Tatum recorded just one sack and two tackles for loss last year. Hurtt said he sees improvement in Tatum's ability to get pressure on the quarterback.

"His ability to get off blocks and rush the passer [have improved]," Hurtt said. "All of them are rushing the passer significantly better. It was anemic last year."

Hurtt said the biggest difference for Scruggs, Tatum and the other returning defensive linemen was a rigorous off-season strength and conditioning program.

"The biggest difference from the spring until now is what Coach Moorer did for them," Hurtt said. "Their bodies came back different, they're more flexible and you can see the explosion in terms of changing direction and exploding off the ball. What our strength program did made myself and [offensive line] Coach [Dave] Borbely's job a lot easier. That's where you win games."

Scruggs and Tatum appear set to start at their respective positions. Hurtt is also counting on junior Randy Salmon and senior Tim High at tackle, and senior Rodney Gnat and junior William Savoy at end.

Hurtt also indicated that true freshmen B.J. Butler and Brandon Dunn might also be thrown into action this season. Here's what he had to say about Butler and Dunn:

How many freshman is Hurtt counting to play this year?

"Starting fall camp I would have said all of them to see who could play. But that it's starting to trim down and the guys that have stepped to the forefront are B.J. Butler and Brandon Dunn. They've done a tremendous job. Jamaine Brooks and Lacy Coleman have done well but I think they need some development and may need a redshirt year to improve and grow."

What does Butler bring to the defensive line?

"Athleticism. He's a big kid that can run and change directions. He's an explosive athlete. He's a playmaker. He's intercepted passes from a defensive line position. Whether it's a screen or shovel passes, he's getting pressure on the quarterback and TFL's. He's a highly productive kid who finds himself around the ball a lot."

How about Dunn?

"He's playing inside. He's a big ole kid with a big rear end. He's been doing a good job with things. He's missed a little bit of time, but he's growing and coming along. It's difficult to play inside as a freshman, but I think he'll work through it and be fine in the long run."

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