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.