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Louisville Football Position Preview: Secondary

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Camping World Kickoff - Alabama v Louisville Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Louisville’s defense had some statistical success from a pass defense standpoint last season but when you dig a bit deeper it was obvious that teams just didn’t have to throw the football. Though teams didn’t test the secondary much, they still left a lot to be desired as they gave up 25 touchdown passes and were among the worst in the country in passing efficiency defense as well as yards per attempt. Bryan Brown led a group of cornerbacks at App State that excelled at defending the pass as well as forcing turnovers. We will have to see if he can turn this group around.

The summer depth chart that was released by UofL had Cornelius Sturghill and Chandler Jones manning the starting spots. I tend to think that Anthony Johnson will be a guy that will push for a starting spot. He was one of the few players last year that made some impressive plays. Sturghill is the fastest player on the team and Brown values speed. If he can show the ability to be an asset as a run defender, I think he will be able to hold down the starting spot.

Chandler Jones came in as a four star recruit and struggled as a true freshman at times. He also had some nice flashes where he showed that he could be an aggressive player against the run. The secondary was rotated so randomly last year that Jones could easily be a stud but we just didn’t get to see enough of him in coverage last year to know. P.J. Mbanasor is also a guy that should factor into the rotation.

Another player that has been mentioned as a standout in camp is Marlon Character. Character looked completely lost in the handful of times that we saw him last year but Brown seems to be impressed. Character was also one of the first back ups on the field during the spring. JUCO transfer Justin Ford will likely have a chance to push for playing time, also. Both players are on the bigger side but Brown wants play makers on the field and whoever can do that will get out there.

The safety spots are set as of now with Russ Yeast and Khane Pass being named the starters by ShaDon Brown. Brown said he uses a “voting depth chart” where he allows the players to vote on who should start. As surprised as I was by that, it was good to hear that players seem to like it. They voted those guys as the starters and I don’t really see that changing before the season starts.

Brown spoke highly of Khane Pass after a practice during camp. He’s a consistent player that Brown feels has a high football IQ. Being that consistent guy has been fine for the last few years but Pass will have to be a guy that can make big plays in this defense. If that doesn’t happen I wouldn’t be surprised to see Grad Transfer Isaiah Hayes take over as the starter.

We all know that Russ Yeast decided to enter the transfer portal towards the end of last season but decided to stick around once the previous staff was fired. Yeast was one of the first players to be moved to a different position and he was also one of the first players that the coaches mentioned as a “starter”. The strong safety spot is a much better fit for Yeast as he is much better as a run support guy and he can play in zone better than he does in man coverage. He has also garnered a lot of positive comments from his teammates and is definitely a guy that could help this group rebound from a poor season last year.