This defense is one roller coaster of emotions. One week you are ready to knock the entire defensive personnel into space and just start over. One week you are wishing every personnel group could be as good as the defense.
The defense balled out against the Irish on Saturday. There is no other fair way to put it. They got after Irish quarterback Ian Book all day and the run defense was plenty good enough to keep the team in the game.
Book was sacked four times and threw just 11-for-19 and 106 yards through the air. Despite what your thoughts of Book are as a quarterback in the country, those are fantastic numbers against the quarterback for the number four team in the country.
Normally you would expect to have a great chance of beating the number four team in the country holding their starting quarterback to those kinds of numbers. The Cardinals did not win for a reason. More on that later.
Defensive players showcase
The stars came out for the Louisville defense. Kei’Trel Clark and Monty Montgomery have put their stamp on this team as on-field leaders that bring an energy a swag the unit desperately needs. The secondary missed Clark desperately in their loss to Georgia Tech.
Clark made several breaks on the ball that only he can make on this team. Clark looks like a future draft pick as a true sophomore. He has the size, athleticism, and ball skills to play on Sundays. Clark is a huge component to this team.
Monty Montgomery is the dog on defense this team has lacked for the last couple of years. His film at Hutchinson Community College showed how great of an athlete Montgomery was at the linebacker position. The only thing he lacked was size.
I am here to tell you that him being listed at 5’11” does not matter. In a loaded linebacker group, Montgomery is the best of them all. He is explosive, fantastic at diagnosing plays, and he simply does not miss tackles. He still does not start (officially), but he is the perfect piece to the defense along with CJ Avery and Dorian Etheridge.
Clark is a sophomore and Montgomery is a junior. This defense is in good hands in the future.
Offense limits turnovers
On a tough day for the offense, this was the biggest thing to note in the positive category. The Cardinals had been putting the ball in harm’s way far too much the first four games. This was a refreshing change to make life easier on the defense and to keep drives extended for as long as possible.
Malik Cunningham did not come close to throwing an interception albeit with just 19 pass attempts on the day. Cunningham left with cramps and Evan Conley came in for a few plays. Conley had an interception dropped by a Notre Dame cornerback on one of his two only passes.
Javian Hawkins ran hard despite having a low yardage total on the day. More importantly, he did not put the ball on the turf like he did multiple times against Georgia Tech. I am sure that was a main talking point to the offense on Notre Dame game week.
Team has young players to build on
Tell has lower body power and I noticed him driving Notre Dame interior lineman into the backfield from his nose guard spot. Look for Tell to be a player Cards fans are talking about for years to come. He has some big time ability.
Defensive ends Ramon Puryear and Ja’Darien Boykin continue to play a ton of snaps for the Cardinals defense. Puryear is a redshirt freshman while Boykin is a true freshman. Puryear, a former walk-on, had a tackle for loss in Saturday’s game. Boykin was a highly thought of recruit that still appears to be getting his footing. However, Boykin is getting a lot of snaps for a reason. He has strength throughout his frame and he possesses explosiveness to get to the quarterback.