- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Louisville has had plenty of success getting to the quarterback through the first four games of the season.
Wrapping him up and tackling him to the ground? That is another story.
The Cardinals only have four sacks on the season, to rank last in the Big East and in a tie for No. 111 in the nation. Nobody on the team has more than one sack, and this is a bit of an area of concern for No. 19 Louisville (4-0) as it moves into its final nonconference game of the season Saturday against Southern Miss.
"We’re getting there," coach Charlie Strong said on the Big East coaches call. "On Saturday, we missed four sacks. We’re getting in the backfield, same with North Carolina, but we’re just not finishing. It’s all about guys finishing. Plus, once we have a guy corralled up we need to get to the quarterback, and get him on the ground. He’s slipping away from tacklers. One guy may beat another guy, but another three are not even getting off their blocks. It’s a concern because you’d like to have more sacks right now. We’re fortunate to be in the position we’re in where we’re still winning. That’s an area we need to improve in."
Perhaps looking for deficiencies in a team that is 4-0 is nitpicking, but this is an area that Louisville excelled in last season, with 33 tackles to rank No. 21 in the nation. Louisville is well off that pace right now. One thing to keep in mind is this team has started four different fronts in four games. This is a very young group as well, with no seniors on the two deep.
True freshman Sheldon Rankins has made one start, and is listed as a starter going into the Southern Miss game, and sophomores B.J. Dubose, Lorenzo Mauldin, Jamaine Brooks and Deiontrez Mount have been relied upon heavily as well.
The good news is that there is depth and talent on the line. They just need more time to jell and pick up some much needed game-experience to start beefing up the sack totals.
"We can get it done," Strong said. "It’s going to take us making sure we get the drill work in, where we can wrap up, where we get to the quarterback and are able to finish and get him on the ground."