By Paul Sykes

Plagued by insufficient numbers and injuries, the University of Louisville’s defensive secondary became the point of attack for opponents during the latter part of last season. It is the area where the Cards need to improve the most if Steve Kragthorpe’s team is to surpass last year’s 5-7 record.

First year U of L football assistants Antonio Goss and Larry Slade have been around. Goss, the safeties coach, has had coaching stops at Buffalo and Middle Tennessee. Slade, the secondary coach, spent 10 years as Phil Fulmer’s secondary coach at Tennessee. They realize just what pressure they’re under.


Among the returnees, only Johnny Patrick, Richard Raglin and Daniel Covington saw significant time defending opponent’s passing attacks. Patrick and Raglin will improve with the additional year of trial by fire under their belts. Covington showed flashes of brilliance last year but needs to improve on his deep ball coverage.

A slew of juco transfers and new players will also compete for the four slots. Preston Pace is a three-star recruit who could see time on the field immediately if the staff decides to play him as a freshman. Juco transfer Terrance Simien, a late addition to the roster, has the reputation of being a punishing tackler. Freshmen Jacob and Isaac Geffrad, a talented brother combo out of Winter Park, Fla., could provide depth if they forego a red shirt year.


If reports of Jacques Caldwell’s reassignment from wide receiver to defensive back are true, he will add significant speed to the position. Chaz Thompson and Josh Wiley will also have their shots. Freshman Champ Lee, a cousin of Cardinal running back Bilal Powell, was third team all-state in Florida his senior year.

Whoever the coaches decide to play in the secondary must improve on reading offensive sets and coverage. A more aggressive quarterback blitz and pursuit package this year, as indicated by defensive coordinator Brent Guy, will lighten the load on this group of relatively untested and unproven pass defenders. Ultimately, the best pass defense is making sure the quarterback never gets a chance to throw.

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By Paul Sykes

Paul Sykes owns Paul Sykes Advertising and does contract work for other advertising and publishing firms. The proud husband of Sonja, he has a fascination with bears, bars and Cardinal sports. He's also the moderator of

6 thoughts on “Louisville’s Secondary Must Improve Quickly”
  1. I am in the belief that the numbers in the secondary will not result in good play. The JuCo players cannot be counted on to make an impact their first year, just look at Turrene, the #1 JuCo in the country and he was pretty bad his first year. I really like Johnny Patrick and Raglin. But I don’t believe they are stars, and they are the two best playrs back there. The 2nd and 3rd corners are going to be green and out matched on a weekly basis. Opposing teams wil probably attack the likes of Kardell Dunning who weighs about as much as I did in Middle School. The pressure talk is also weird, Ron English who is the premier defensive guru in college football couldn’t figure out a way to get pressure on the QB with a more talented line. I just don’t see any improvement on this side of the ball. I hope I’m wrong, but a lack of highly talented players along with a downgrade in a defensive coordinator lead me to believe it could get ugly quick for this group. Just one mans opinion.

  2. As it goes with preseason chatter about what we think we might see, none of it is etched in stone and can certainly change daily. A new defensive coordinator, new position coaches, new players…new ways of doing and new philosophies.

    It’s all pretty much a guessing game right now until they pad up, buckle the chin straps and start knocking each other around.

    Our defensive secondary is the weak link unless we can find two guys that can go with Patrick and Raglin. Keeping Raglin and Patrick injury free is a big “if” also…both have priors in this regard.

    Given the large amount of newcomers we have back there, we probably won’t see consistant play until midseason.

    Honestly, I’ll be pleased if we’re showing consistancy in our pass defense by the time Southern Miss rolls into town. If we’re 2-2 at that point of the season, I’ll do the happy dance across Floyd Street during tailgaiting.

  3. It’s going to be a very long season. The Sporting News top 100 for this year has UofL ranked # 73. Let’s look at some of the teams ahead of us.
    La. Tech of the WAC
    Troy of the Sunbelt
    Bowling Green, Central Michigan, and Western Michigan
    of the MAC
    Rice, So. Miss., Houston, Tulsa, and ECU of C-USA.

    Think about it. That means we would be picked to finish sixth in the conference we left because it was holding us back!!!!!

    And note that Tulsa continues to move up while we continue to move down. Case closed.

  4. Paul, I appreciate your optimism, but it is inconceivable for UofL to be 2-2 after the first four games. I am one the the few who understand that Southern Miss is going to be a huge problem as well. It is more likely they are 1-4 after the first 5. UK, Utah, Pitt, and Southern Miss are all better football teams than UofL, at least thats what every single preseason ranking has.

  5. My guess is the length of time associated with the temporary setbacks is also the length of time SK remains coach.

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