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2013 Offensive Line Review

Louisville’s Offensive Line was improved in 2013 compared to 2012 but there is still a great deal of improvement possible in this group.  On the year, the Cards finished with just the 87th best rushing offense and allowed 5.54 Tackles for Loss per game and 2 sacks per game.  Louisville loses just one regular in Kamran Joyer from the line.

One common thought in this group was that Louisville’s offensive line was unable allow the Cards to run the football.  Despite fan complaints that Louisville attempted too many run plays under Shawn Watson, the Cards actually attempted just 455 carries during the season (87th).  Louisville did finish 72nd in Yards Per Carry with 4.2 ypc.

2014 Offensive Line Preview Roster & Coaches

Chris Klenakis’ group has experience & talent and Klenakis comes to the Cards with 24 years of coaching experience including 2 years with Coach Petrino while at Arkansas.  Klenakis is an innovator of the pistol offense and has coached 17 offensive lineman who have played in the NFL.  Coach Klenakis has been an offensive coordinator and will also serve as Louisville’s Run Game Coordinator.

Louisville native and Fern Creek product Jamon Brown (6-6, 326, Sr.) has a big voice and a slightly smaller body in 2014.  Brown worked hard on his weight to get down to 326 lbs and that weight puts him in position to move better on the outside and to be sharper in the 4th quarter of games.  Last year Jamon carried 350 lbs and after the 2014 NFL Draft when the heaviest player at his position drafted was 332, it was clear that Jamon needed to cut weight, and that’s exactly what he did.  Brown brings a wealth of experience to the tackle position and will be asked to play Strong Tackle, meaning he can switch from the Left & Right Side based on formation and situation.  The potential of Jamon Brown in a Bobby Petrino offense is off-the-charts.  Jamon can really attack the edge in the run game and a trimmer Brown in the passing game is just going to be more effective in protection.  It was Jamon’s dream to play for Petrino in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, and he’ll have a chance to live that dream in 2014.  Before the season NFL scouts likely have Jamon in the 4th to 5th Round range for May’s draft, but there is ENORMOUS opportunity for Brown to improve his stock with a big year going against some of the best defensive lines and edge rushers in the ACC.  He’s certainly come a long way since trying to stop Bruce Irvin (WVU) as a true freshman the week he was moved from Defensive Tackle.

Next to Jamon on the Strong Side will be a soon-to-be 4-Year Starter in guard John Miller (6-2, 325, Sr.) from Miami Central.  John is a quiet person, but he is OUTSTANDING in space as a run blocker.  Miller can really move for a big guy and he is another great fit for the Petrino offense as most people forget how much Bobby Petrino likes to run the football.  One drawback to Miller’s game since he’s been at Louisville has been lower leg injuries and cramps.  Rolling your ankle along the interior offensive line is just something that comes with the territory, but John Miller runs HOT and he sweats more than your average human while on the football field.  That type of liquid displacement takes a toll during the course of a 4 quarter game of football. As a result, Miller has had to miss time repeatedly in games because of cramps in his legs.  Hydration & Nutrition will be of utmost importance for Miller in 2014 so that Louisville can really rely on his presence late in games, and also for him to put crunch time film on tape for NFL scouts to review.  Miller started as a true freshman out of necessity, but he has been just an absolute pleasure to watch play football the past 3 seasons and I’m hoping we can all do that in 2015 in the NFL.  To do that Miller needs an aggressive and healthy season against the top-level in the ACC.  He can absolutely do that.

At Center former Louisville walk-on Tobijah Hughley (6-3, 289, RS-Soph.) will most likely get the start for the Cardinals against Miami.  Hughley signed his scholarship papers on Wednesday night after Joe Manley asked for and was granted his release to Western Kentucky.  Hughley comes to the Cards from Lexington Lafayette High School and he played the Spring with the #1 unit.  Coach Petrino said at the time, Hughley was at Center so that he could install the offense cleanly and that the line made fewer mistakes with Tobijah at Center.  To start Fall Camp,  Jake Smith was tried as the #1 Center but after about a week Hughley was once again the plan.  The best thing a Center can do is not get noticed with botched snaps and bad beats on the offensive line, it’s a bonus if he can seal the interior and let guards run free.  So far, so good but Hughley has never played a collegiate snap so we’ll have to see what he’s got under the lights against Miami.  Bottom line, trust your coaches and remember Alex Kupper.

No one probably feels more at home than Jake Smith (6-4, 307, RS-Sr.) at Weakside Guard. Smith played the 2013 season admirably in the middle as the Cards had a 12-1 record and there were few glaring errors at the Center spot.  But at Guard, Jake Smith can get more room to do what he does best:  Clear the Road for the Running Backs. Jake’s natural position is Guard but he’s proven that he is versatile enough to go in and play Center if needed.  If anything happens to Tobijah, it’s a good bet that Jake would slide over as needed.  Smith is extremely reliable, good-natured and a team captain with NFL potential.  For much of the past two seasons the question has been: “What are they going to do with Jake?” And he’s done nothing but positive and effective.  Now hopefully Smith can focus on the Guard position and Card Nation can see the best of his game in his final season at UofL.

At Weakside Tackle Kelby Johnson (6-7, 299, Jr.) is a new face in the program from ASA College.  Prior to ASA, Kelby spent 2 seasons at the University of Virginia and saw action as a true freshman for the Cavaliers playing in 4 games. Originally out of High School Kelby is from DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, MD and chose Louisville over Kansas, Ole Miss, and Purdue.  Bobby Petrino actually flew to New York and walked 2 miles without a jacket in a snowstorm (I’m not joking) to meet with Kelby.  That should tell you a little bit about what Petrino thinks of Johnson.

Primary back-ups and potential starters throughout the season are likely to be Chris Acosta (6-3, 275, RS.-Sr.) who decided to return for his 5th year at Guard.  Ryan Mack (6-5, 309, RS-Jr.) who has waited his turn and can play both guard & tackle, and Aaron Epps (6-7, 299, RS-Jr) who finally has added enough weight to his frame to be a serious candidate on the offensive line.  Acosta has a lot of experience at Guard and has played in a lot of key scenarios the past few years for the Cards.  Ryan Mack has started several games throughout his career, CARES about his team and will definitely see a great deal of action this season.  Epps has a lot of athleticism and has been a project within the program for the past 3 years that is bound to see some payoff in 2014.   

Skylar Lacy (6-6, 305, RS-Fr.), Pedro Sibiea (6-3, 294, RS-Soph.), and T.C. Klusman (6-3, 276, RS-Soph.) all have a lot of ability and will definitely factor during their careers at UofL.  Lacy has REALLY come on strong during Fall Camp and could potentially push for a major reserve role but I’m keeping him in this group for now.  Sibiea spent a lot of his early time at UofL on the defensive line and has been learning and growing a great deal since moving over to Guard.  The coaches really like Pedro at the position he just needs seasoning.   Klusman had every opportunity this Fall Camp after missing Spring Ball, but he likely just needed a little more time following the injury.  Hughley’s participation during the Spring set him apart, but things could get interesting if T.C. keeps working and Louisville all of the sudden needs a Center.  Could Klusman give the coaches confidence in that scenario to keep Jake at Guard?

True Freshman Danny Burns (6-6, 339, Fr), Lukayus McNeil (6-6, 278, Fr.), and Jimmie Terry (6-4, 350, Fr.) all are likely redshirts and future big-time members of the Cardinal Offensive Line.  Burns is HUGE with a tremendous wing span, needs polishing and work on his mobility….especially off the ground.  Danny chose Louisville over Iowa St, Maryland, Michigan State, Nebraska, Pitt, Purdue, and West Virignia. Lukayus McNeil certainly looks the part for a future tackle and will probably dent the two-deep and make a run at a starting position next season.  Lukayus chose the Cards over Indiana, Oklahoma, NC State, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin. Lastly big man Jimmie Terry hit Petrino’s radar late in the process and is your typical diamond in the rough find that Coach Petrino is known for.  Terry needs to trim down and work on his mobility, a year in the program and in the strength and conditioning department is going to do a world of good for Terry if he buys in.

Walk-on David Noltemeyer (6-3, 302, RS-Sr.) returns for his senior season.

My Projected Depth Chart

Strong Tackle
1) Jamon Brown
2) Aaron Epps

Strong Guard
1) John Miller
2) Chris Acosta

1) Tobijah Hughley
2) TC Klusman

Weak Guard
1) Jake Smith
2) Ryan Mack

Weak Tackle
1) Kelby Johnson
2) Ryan Mack

2015 NFL Draft Possibles: Jamon Brown, John Miller, Jake Smith

2015 Roster Expected Available: Tobijah Hughley, Kelby Johnson, Ryan Mack, Aaron Epps, Skylar Lacy, Pedro Sibiea, TC Klusman, Danny Burns (6-6, 339, Fr), Lukayus McNeil (6-6, 278, Fr.), and Jimmie Terry (6-4, 350, Fr.)

2016 Roster Expected Available: Tobijah Hughley, Skylar Lacy, Pedro Sibiea, TC Klusman,  Danny Burns (6-6, 339, Fr), Lukayus McNeil (6-6, 278, Fr.), and Jimmie Terry (6-4, 350, Fr.)

2017 Roster Expected Available: Skylar Lacy,  Danny Burns (6-6, 339, Fr), Lukayus McNeil (6-6, 278, Fr.), and Jimmie Terry (6-4, 350, Fr.)

2018 Roster Expected Available:  Danny Burns (6-6, 339, Fr), Lukayus McNeil (6-6, 278, Fr.), and Jimmie Terry (6-4, 350, Fr.)

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