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The Cardinal Countdown: 11 Days Until Kickoff

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NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Louisiana State vs Louisville Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

#11 Dee Smith

Class: Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-1/202

Position: Safety

Hometown: Florence, AL

Twitter: @I_Am_Dee_Smith

Thoughts: The 2016 season for Dee Smith was almost an exact replica of the chart for the entire Louisville football team. Coming off a solid Freshman season where he cut teeth on special teams and then ultimately cracked the rotation in the secondary, Dee got the call to be a starter for the Cards early in the year and performed very well. Just to make sure I wasn't losing my mind or "misremembering" things, I did a twitter search, and it was confirmed that September/October Dee Smith was a force to be reckoned with. Making big hits, defending the deep ball well, making open field tackles, etc. I tagged him as the next big thing in the secondary in last years countdown and for about 9 games I was proven correct. Dee Smith was one of the Top 3 or 4 defensive players on the field for the first ¾ of the season, hands down. Then...

Dee actually played fine in the Houston game, meaning he was no more to blame than anyone else on the squad that night. He actually had a season high 10 tackles that week, but as we know, lots of tackles in the secondary isn't a great thing for two reasons. 1) The guy with the ball is getting to the second level of the defense with consistency, forcing the safeties to make tackles, instead of say the lineman or linebackers. 2) The QB is picking on you or at least your side of the field. Constant targets for a corner or safety mean the ball is coming to you becasue they want to, never a good thing. Dee had some struggles against UK as well that appeared to simply be misreads or wrong playcalls. Hopefully those are less frequent on the defense side of the ball for everyone now that Sirmon has simplified the calls. The one thing Smith always had going for him was his ability to make open field tackles, and unless something drastic happens I still expect him to be in the heavy rotation of the Taxboys, likely backing up Chucky Williams.

I think we can all agree the last three games for Louisville left a sour taste in our mouths as fans, but I'm sure it was twice as bad for the players, and I have no doubt Dee, and the rest of the squad will come out guns blazing...figuratively. (Can never be too cautious nowadays)

Sweet Tweet:

Well, if football doesn't work out I guess he can always tour as a trick-shot bowler. Just keep your head on a swivel for those Ernie McCrakens's of the world. No mercy.

***

#11 Kemari Averett

Class: Freshman

Ht/Wt: 6-6/271

Position: Tight End

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Twitter: @solid_mari

Thoughts: If you sat down and transcribed every single coaches interview from Fall camp I would assume Lamar would be the leader in the clubhouse with "most mentions", rightfully so I might add, but a close second would have to be true freshman Kemari Averett. The very large tight end from the A-T-L is turning heads on and off the field early in his career.

Averett came into the program with some "pomp and circumstance", if for no other reason than the fact that he is one large human being. Standing at 6-6 and 271lbs Averett looks like a guy who you might find down in the trenches playing in the slop, instead, you have to try and guard him while he runs a flag route, or better yet, get around him as he blocks on the outside. His physical stature alone might intimidate some but obviously it's all worthless if the kid can't play. Well, three weeks into camp all signs point to......he can play pretty damn well. Petrino and Klanakis have both been extremely excited about Averett thus far. I mean, you can see it on their faces...

As much as they love Averett, don't be shocked to see the possibility of a redshirt float out there in the weeks to come. The Cards have three other tight ends that are very impressive in Micky Crum, Charles Standberry, and Jordan "I'm still learning the plays" Davis. The development of Davis and the health of the other two could play a large role in if we see Kamari get reps this season. In a perfect world Crum and Standberry are beasts, Davis fills in the voids when he needs too and Averett saves a year of eligibility, ready to slide in as Standberry graduates. I predict we see Kemari take the Puma Pass approach by suiting up each week and being ready to go if he is needed. Of course, if he trots out there in the first series against Purdue I may be an idiot in my prediction, but I'll be really excited with the fact that the coaches love him so much they want him on the field early and often.

Sweet Tweet:

I tell this to Mrs. CardinalStrong all the time...not sure what she tells me, I never really listen.