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Position that needs improvement: Louisville

1/26/2015

Every team has issues to address this offseason, and this week we’re taking a look at the most glaring holes for each ACC team and figuring out where they might find answers between now and the season opener.

Louisville Cardinals

Position to improve: Offensive line.

Why it was a problem: Though the Cardinals returned players who combined to start over 100 games, there was inconsistency up front as the Cards transitioned to a new offensive style, new blocking schemes and a new position coach. Louisville struggled to protect the quarterback, and its ground game was up-and-down all season long. Without any veterans at center, Louisville started former walk-on Tobijah Hughley, who made gradual improvement as the year went on. Later in the year, veteran offensive tackle Ryan Mack was benched. He has since announced he would transfer to Memphis. Louisville tied for No. 114 in the nation in average sacks allowed per game (3.15) and No. 92 in the nation in rushing offense (142.7 yards per game). Though the group was better to end 2014, it still fell short of expectations.

How it can be fixed: Another year in the system should definitely help, because it is different from the old scheme under former coach Charlie Strong. So will consistency at quarterback, which was a problem all year. Louisville was forced to play three different quarterbacks because of injury. Will Gardner and Reggie Bonnafon were both inexperienced and played radically different styles, which does impact the offensive line. But unfortunately for the Cardinals, they are losing their three best, most experienced players in tackle Jamon Brown (All-ACC second team), and All-ACC honorable mention guards Jake Smith and and John Miller.

Early 2015 outlook: Hughley and offensive tackle Aaron Epps are the only starters back next season. Beyond them, there are not many proven players, at least not yet. Center T.C. Klusman, tackle Kelby Johnson and guards Skylar Lacy and Pedro Sibiea all served in backup roles a season ago. Louisville hit offensive line hard on the recruiting trail, and already has signed junior college transfer Khalil Hunter, who could provide immediate relief.