There was one linebacker who stood out for having a good game while there were two others who stood out in not-so-good ways.
Let’s start with the positive.
Yasir Abdullah was one of the best players on the field for the Cardinals defense at his outside linebacker position. He shot gaps and pushed the edge against the run to make plays to stone the Virginia runners before they could get going.
Abdullah, normally known for his pass rushing skill, was actually at his best against the run on Saturday. I was impressed with him despite him not getting to the quarterback.
Rodjay Burns was his normal self on Saturday. He does not make a ton of tackles, but he is normally good for one or two big-time plays in the backfield for the defense per game. Burns was solid once again.
Montgomery, for my money, played his worst game in a Cardinals uniform on Saturday. He was inconsistent in his spy of Brennan Armstrong throughout the game. That inconsistently allowed Armstrong to take off out of the pocket.
He also was unaware in coverage a couple of times. It is is clearly evident that Montgomery needs work in coverage as dropping into a zone has not been something he is great at. He certainly has the athleticism to do it. He needs to refine the technique doing so.
Montgomery also missed some tackles and it was just not a great performance for him overall. He did not look like his normal self after he missed the game a couple of weeks ago against Virginia Tech.
Avery is a senior leader on the defense that simply cannot make some of the mental mistakes that he did Saturday. He was responsible for a couple of goal-to-go touchdowns for Virginia in this one. On one occasion, Avery completely left his man in coverage in anticipation that Armstrong was about to run.
He did not run. Instead, he kept his eyes down the field and found a wide open receiver in the end zone. On another, Avery needed to fill his gap and hesitated just a bit too long. That led to an easy walk-in touchdown for the Cavaliers.
Overall, this was probably Louisville’s worst group today. I expect more from this veteran unit in the middle.