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2014 Linebacker Review

Keith Kelsey & James Burgess have dubbed themselves the “Bash Brothers” and linebackers don’t get to give themselves a nickname like that unless they had a tremendous season…..and they did.  Along with outside linebackers Lorenzo Mauldin & Deiontrez Mount who both were drafted into the NFL, the linebackers were OUTSTANDING in 2014.  Statistically speaking, Louisville’s defense was one of the best in the country.  The LBs fed off the defensive line, and the secondary fed off the front 7 and Louisville really dominated several opponents on defense.

#6 in Total Defense, #24 in Scoring Defense, #10 in Rushing Defense, #10 in 3rd Down Defense, and #11 in Turnovers Gained.

Those stats happen directly as a result of the linebacker unit with Keith Kelsey (a sophomore in 2014) led all tacklers with 87 tackles, 7 TFLs, 6 sacks, and inexplicably did not score 5 TDs.  James Burgess also left some defensive Touchdowns on the board with missed opportunities on turnovers, but was still dominant with 71 tackles, 10 TFLs, 3 sacks, and 3 INTs.  On the outside Lorenzo Mauldin dealt with some nagging injuries throughout the season but still managed to produce 51 tackles, 13 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.  Lastly, Deiontrez Mount at SAM put together a very nice season of 37 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, and 5 sacks along with a forced fumble.

It’s easy to list these stats together and relay that the starting unit had 246 tackles, 40.5 TFLs, and 20.5 sacks but to sum it up simply the Cards created PRESSURE and were nearly impossible to run against.

Part of the success was due to the relative health of the unit.  LOZO did miss some time, but during that time Trevon Young & Keith Brown really filled in well for the Cards.  Young coming in from Junior College did take some time to acclimate to major college football and Keith Brown coming off an injury kept finding his way on the field and really played well in stretches.  But the guy that really stood out was Stacy Thomas on special teams.  Stacy blocked a punt vs. BC and routinely busted up returns.

Players Lost

Deiontrez Mount 37 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 5 sacks
Lorenzo Mauldin 51 tackles, 13 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, 1 FF
Blake Ramsey 1 tackle

Numerical Roster
#1 Keith Brown 6-1, 237 RS-Jr
#13 James Burgess 6-0, 229, Sr
#32 Stacy Thomas 6-1, 225, RS-Soph
#42 Isaac Stewart 6-2, 236 RS-Fr
#43 Damien Smith 6-1, 215, Fr
#46 Lamar Atkins 5-11, 236, RS-Jr (also listing at Fullback)
#48 Tim Bonner 6-4, 215, Fr
#51 Royce Donovan 6-2, 224, RS-Jr
#52 Nick Dawson-Brents 6-3, 265 RS-Jr
#53 Amonte Caban 6-1, 226, Fr
#55 Keith Kelsey 6-1, 236, Jr
#57 Finesse Middleton 6-0, 242, RS-Soph
#58 Jonathan Greenard 6-4, 226, Fr
#91 Trevon Young 6-4, 229, Sr
#92 Devonte Fields 6-4, 245, Jr
#96 Henry Famurewa 6-2, 245, Soph
#99 James Hearns 6-3, 257, RS-Soph

Projected Depth Chart

Keith Brown
Nick Dawson-Brents (could also be at DE)
James Hearns
Damien Smith

Keith Kelsey
Isaac Stewart
Amonte Caban
Lamar Atkins (could also be at FB)

James Burgess
Stacy Thomas
Trevon Young
Royce Donovan
Damien Smith

Devonte Fields
Henry Famurewa
Finesse Middleton
Tim Bonner OR
Jonathan Greenard

Stacy Thomas

Examining the 2015 Group

DEEEEEPPPPP.  Losing Lorenzo Mauldin & Deiontrez Mount hurts…..no question.  They were great players and great PEOPLE.  But there is a conveyor belt of talented players at the linebacker position inside the program RIGHT NOW that really is the foundation of the defense. The key when evaluating who goes where in a Todd Grantham defense is hard because Grantham wants his players to be able to do multiple things.  So when the depth charts says “X player is #1 at WILL” it doesn’t mean that in certain situations that he can’t all of the sudden find himself playing a different role either with his hand down, moving inside, and sometimes even players who might not be starters find time in specific situations.

In the middle Keith Kelsey & James Burgess are going to start at the MIKE and MO positions.  The Bash Brothers are poised for a tremendous season after a fantastic season in 2014.  The Bash Brothers can improve by executing the chances for turnovers they had a year ago.  Both Burgess and Kelsey had their hands on so many fumbles and interceptions that would have been game-changers for the Cards.  In 2015 these two can take the next step from good college football linebackers into can’t miss professionals if they simply execute the takeaways that they were already in position for a year ago.  With these two, Louisville is tremendous up the middle.

At the WILL linebacker TCU transfer and former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields moves into the Lorenzo Mauldin position and the Cards will utilize his pass-rushing ability to wreck defenses in the Todd Grantham defense.  Many believe that Fields is a ‘one & done’ type of player because of his 2012 performance for the Horned Frogs of 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks as a Freshman.  But don’t count on that performance based on the past, Louisville fans have seen transfers who have missed time not return fully to form, most recently Michael Dyer. If Fields isn’t immediately into form, look for Henry Famurewa to get a good bit of run.  Many think Henry is a future star and looked like an impact player during Spring Practice.

The Sam spot is up for grabs but the most likely candidate to start the season is linebacker Keith Brown who came to the Cards as one of the most heralded recruits in UofL Football history and has been plagued by injuries during his time with Louisville.  Brown found himself behind both James Burgess and Keith Kelsey and Todd Grantham had to find a way to get Keith onto the field and progressively did as the 2014 season went on.  Now with more opportunity Brown looks for his role to grow even more on the outside in 2015.  Nick Dawson-Brents also is a big-time recruit who made some huge plays for Louisville a year ago who will challenge at the SAM spot but also could move down to Defensive End.

Stacy Thomas is the WILD CARD here because Stacy is the type of playmaker that just is going to be noticed when he is on the field and he’s going to make the coaching staff consider finding an expanded role to get him more time on the field.  No matter what Thomas’ role in 2015 is, he’ll make the most of his opportunities.  WRITE THAT DOWN.

Now on to the depth.  Louisville’s future is BRIGHT!  The Cards have players like James Hearns, Isaac Stewart, Trevon Young, Amonte Caban, Finesse Middleton, Jonathan Greenard, and Tim Bonner who all can play major college football waiting their turn and competing for time in 2015.  Don’t expect any one of these players to lay down….they will all compete to play a major role this year.  This is a fantastic position for the program and a sign that years from now that conveyor belly of talent that we discussed will continue to deliver top notch performance for the Louisville Defense.


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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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