We are officially a week away from the season opener against rival Kentucky, and today, our position previews series takes us to the Louisville secondary. This was a unit that was fairly inexperienced last year, but showed great promise as the season progressed. These guys improved a lot from week 1 through the Belk Bowl and much like the entire UofL team, there are high expectations for this group in 2012.
As of now, the starters are slated to be Adrian Bushell and Terrell Floyd at the cornerback spots, with Calvin Pryor manning free safety, and all Big East performer Hakeem Smith at strong safety. Expect to also see plenty of Andrew Johnson, Stephan Robinson, and Gerod Holliman in the defensive backfield.
The guy who is perhaps most critical to the success of this unit is Adrian Bushell. He will be expected to be Louisville’s lockdown corner and will most likely take on the opposing team’s best receiver. Bushell has tremendous speed, which he displayed several times last season on special teams, and ranked fifth on the 2011 team in tackles. He not only needs to perform at the cornerback position, but on a squad without amny seniors, needs to step into a leadership role on the field.
One player who can be counted on and is as reliable as anyone on the team is Hakeem Smith. The redshirt junior from Jonesboro, Georgia recorded 84 tackles in 2011, good for second on the team. Hakeem is one of the most sure handed tacklers on the team and is not afraid to make a big play when one is needed.
When the depth chart was released last week, one of the most discussed things was the listing of Terrell Floyd over Andrew Johnson at the other cornerback spot. Charlie Strong explained that decision in his pregame press conference by saying it was nothing more than these two guys were neck and neck for the starting spot, and unfortunately, Johnson sustained a minor injury which allowed Floyd to get ahead. However, regardless of who starts, both of these guys will play. They are both very talented and will be relied upon to step up in their sophomore seasons.
One of the players I am most looking forward to seeing play on defense is Gerod Holliman. For those who have forgotten, Holliman committed to Louisville in 2011, but did not qualify initially. He spent a year at prep school before arriving at UofL and is listed second on the depth chart at free safety. The former four-star recruit has quite a reputation and I for one am anxious to see him get on the field.
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