The Louisville Cardinals found their next head coach earlier this week when they re-hired Bobby Petrino to lead the program into the ACC in 2014. Petrino has wasted little time in filling out his coaching staff since getting his new “old” job and has now found his defensive coordinator, hiring Todd Grantham away from the Georgia Bulldogs. How will Grantham put his stamp on the Cardinals’ defense next season?
Louisville boasted one of the best defenses in the country in 2013 that helped them go 12-1 this season. They finished as the No. 2 scoring defense in college football this season, allowing just 12.2 points per game, and No. 1 in total defense, giving up just 251.5 yards per game. Grantham will take over a talented group after spending four seasons as the DC for Georgia, including in 2011 when the Bulldogs ranked No. 5 in total defense.
As Grantham assumes control of the Louisville defense, expect to see the Cardinals make the switch from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 alignment in 2014. Grantham utilized the 3-4 at Georgia to create havoc on defense with sacks and turnovers. There figures to be some growing pains for the Cardinals as they make the transition, especially considering that Louisville will lose three of their top four pass rushers this offseason. Defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin will figure to be the leader of the defense next season after recording 9.5 sacks in 2013, but it remains to be seen how the 6-foot-4, 243-pound edge rusher will be utilized by Grantham.
The Cardinals have a strong defensive foundation in place right now that has helped them build a consistently successful team on the field over the last few seasons. Can Grantham keep that talented core together and develop them into an elite unit again in 2014?