Louisville football: Five defensive players with most to prove in 2020

Jared Goldwire #90 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jared Goldwire #90 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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The overall success of the Louisville football program will fall heavily on the shoulders of the defense. Can Bryan Brown and his group take a big step forward?

Coach Scott Satterfield inherited a Louisville football defense that struggled (I mean, really struggled) under Bobby Petrino and saw plenty of movement in the defensive coordinator coaching position. Satterfield brought in Bryan Brown, who was a breath of fresh air compared to coordinators of years past to lead the Cardinals defense, which in 2018, allowed opponents to score an average of 44 points a game.

Year one things went about as well as many of us thought it would for the Louisville football defense. The group took a massive step forward, compared to 2018, in just about every single statistic, none more so than their ability to make plays when it mattered.

Despite struggling in games against Notre Dame, Clemson, Miami, and Kentucky, Louisville played well enough to pull off big wins against the likes of Wake Forest (ranked team o the road), Virginia, Boston College, as well as in the Music City Bowl against Mississippi State.

New players emerged like Chandler Jones, Russ Yeast, amongst others, while some of the veterans who had been a major part of the defense in years past took even bigger steps in their development, including CJ Avery, GG Robinson, Dorian Etheridge and more.

With only three starters departing this offseason, Louisville is set up to take another massive leap in 2020.

Next season will be the first time in five years that the Cardinals get a returning defensive coordinator. That means these coaches have been recruiting different guys for their certain schemes every single year. This year, Brown will have some returning guys on the defensive end and will be able to further implement his scheme that he is bringing from his days with Appalachian State.

Right now, coaches are struggling to know when things can get back to normal. Bryan Brown will have to get these guys into shape as soon as restrictions regarding COVID-19 loosen up. He discussed this with WDRB.

"“You don’t want to just rush back into it,” Brown said. “That’s when you see a lot of injuries happening with those guys not being in shape. We will have to have a really good plan, and I think Coach Mike (Sirignano) and his staff will do an outstanding job of understanding how to get these guys into football shape, and (the players) are up for the challenge as well.”"

Last season was an improvement to allow merely 33.4 points a game. Hopefully Brown can see another year worth of improvement in 2020 with guys that have something to prove.

As we did for the Louisville football offense, here are five players with the most to prove for the Cardinals on the defensive side of the ball.