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The Cardinal Countdown: 56 Days Until Kickoff

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The Crunch Zone

#56 Kiola Mahoni

Class: Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-3/300

Position: Offensive Line

Hometown: Woodside, CA (via College of San Mateo)

Twitter: @kmahoni1

Thoughts: Mahoni was a great pickup last season out of San Mateo, and partial credit for his recruitment belongs to former Cardinal Pio Vatuvei. Pio, his longtime friend and former childhood rugby competitor, spoke well of Louisville and the staff and Mahoni never wavered in his commitment to the Cards.

As soon as he walked on campus last year no one argued that Mahoni wasn’t physically prepared to compete on the Division-I level, he had the size, had the push and could block as well as anyone. The issue? He couldn’t learn the offense. Mahoni said himself early on that the playbook was significantly larger than anything he was used to seeing (thanks, Petrino) and it took some time to get everything figured out. While Kiola wrapped his brain around the playbook, and the offense in general, Skylar Lacy got the starting reps at guard and seemed to struggle at times early, along with most of the other lineman as well to be completely fair. About midway through the season, after a bye week, Mahoni started to get it and earned his first start against Florida State...in Tallahassee. Welcome to the ACC. Even in the loss, Mahoni looked pretty good and about that time the young line was starting to mesh. (Even Petrino after the game highlighted the O-line in the loss for playing well) Was it great the rest of the year? No. But in my opinion, as I highlighted back on Day 61, things did improve.

Mahoni started the last two games of the year (UK/Texas A&M) but missed the majority of Spring practice with a finger injury (torn tendon). Khalil Hunter was a solid replacement for Mahoni, running with the one’s the rest of the spring and will push him for PT this fall and maybe even the starting spot. (Competition breeds excellence so hopefully both will improve while trying to beat out the other.) If you walk down the O-line at each position I can say that I feel comfortable with all the starters right now, I feel a little uneasy but encouraged by the work of a couple guys on the second team, but the second/third team groups as a whole still scare me. Why should I put a ton of emphasis on 2nd/3rd team players? Because in the ACC, injuries happen and should we lose a Geron Christian, a McNeil, or a Hughley , those guys become your every down players. That’s where depth is vital and that’s what Klenakis is trying to build.

I know, I know, a little heavy on the O-line talk for a Thursday morning, but congratulations reader, you just made it through 20+ days of offensive lineman. Go shoot off those last few fireworks you have left over and drink one on me.

If you skipped a few days of the countdown because you don’t care about O-line players then feel free to aim that bottle rocket right into your ear canal as punishment.

How dare you.

Lineman are people too. If you prick them do they not bleed…?

Sweet Tweet:

Right there with you Mahoni. Call me Bone crusher cause ‘I ain’t never scared’

NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! NOPE!