Watching injured from the sidelines last season gave Louisville junior linebacker C.J. Avery a different glimpse of the defense.
“We had a rough year last year,” said Avery, who missed three games because of an undisclosed injury. “Seeing how they played from the sideline made a big difference in me and made me see how I can help with being a vocal leader and playing out there with them.”
That motivation is going to be needed after a 2018 season that broke records — in all the wrong ways.
Related: Louisville QB Malik Cunningham says new offense ‘fits me perfect’
Louisville was the first Power Five team ever to allow more than 50 points in five games in a row. They gave up 100 more points than any other team in school history. The Cardinals finished winless in the ACC for the first time and 2-10 overall.
“Nobody wants to go 2-10, man. You wake up every day and you tell yourself, you can’t go 2-10 again. Everything that you do is motivated toward having a better year next here,” Avery said.
It won’t be easy for Louisville. But redshirt senior cornerback P.J. Mbanasor said the players have come out under new coach Scott Satterfield and defensive coordinator Bryan Brown with a lot more positivity and a “refreshed and energized point of view.”
“I think last year woke a lot of people up as far as players. We’ve seen how bad it can get, so everyone is motivated to do better,” Mbnasor said.
Both players know just how hard it is to adjust to a new scheme. They’re on their third defensive coordinator in three years. But Avery said that hasn’t been a problem.
“I think there are similarities with everything in football — a concept is a concept,” Avery said. “It’s just all about attitude and effort with us.”
More Cards: Louisville football off and running as Satterfield’s first spring begins
Avery said that his side of the ball is “getting better” and “getting close,” in the newest scheme, which he said is a lot more free-flowing.
“It lets you play. You just play football again. You read one thing and you just go. That’s all it is. Just a whole bunch of running — that’s it,” he said. “You get your call, you read your thing, and then you just go play. You run full speed to the ball. Attitude and effort — that’s all it takes.”
News and notes
- Defensive line coach Mark Ivey pointed to Amonte Caban, Robert Hicks, Tabarius Peterson and G.G. Robinson as players who have stood out early.
- Friday’s practice marked the third of 15 practices held by the Cardinals during their spring season. Day 3 was closed to the media. The schedule culminates with a spring game on March 7 at 7 p.m. inside Cardinal stadium.
- Louisville is reportedly hosting Virginia Tech tight end grad transfer Chris Cunningham on campus this weekend, according to 247Sports.com. In three seasons with the Hokies, Cunningham caught 22 passes for 297 yards and seven touchdowns.
- Following practice, Louisville linebacker Dorian Etheridge hosted a Q-and-A on Twitter. Fans were asked to submit questions with the hashtag #AskDorian. He discussed spring practice and his status as the “quarterback of the defense,” among other answers.
Justin Sayers: 502-582-4252; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_JustinSayers. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/justins.