Bedford pleased, wants improvement

Vance Bedford

The University of Louisville defense had an impressive outing on Sunday, especially against the run. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford discusses the play of his defense in the 49-7 win over Ohio.

After seeing his defense finish 48th in the nation against the run a year ago, University of Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bedford made improving in that area a priority during the off season.

In game one, the Cardinals faced one of the nation's best in Ohio's Beau Blankenship. The senior set a new school record by rushing for 1,604 yards, good enough for 10th best in the NCAA last season. On Sunday against Bedford's more attacking defense, Blankenship managed just 22 yards on 12 carries. The Doak Walker Award watch list candidate's longest run was 5 yards and he finished with a 1.8 yards per carry average.

"That was our number one thing, to stop the run," Bedford said following Wednesday's practice. "The guys did a good job. They played hard, they played fast and they got to the football."

The more aggressive style of defense was evident throughout.

"I saw a lot of gang tackling and when you have a lot of gang tackling, you have some good hits," he said. "Those guys were tired of hitting each other for the last two and half weeks, so it was good to hit somebody else. I think that's what you saw - a lot of enthusiasm on defense. The guys flied around and they wanted to hit somebody and they did."

While pleased with the improved tackling and overall performance in the Cardinals near shutout victory, Bedford is looking for improvement against the pass.

The visiting Bobcats managed three deep throws against the secondary, with the longest going for 47 yards.

"We gave up three big pass plays in the secondary because of a lack of communication," he said. "We need to talk more, be on the same page and execute some of those big plays. That's how you lose ball games, giving up chunk yardage."

The defense is now well into Eastern Kentucky preparations and they do so without any new injury concerns.

"We came out healthy," Bedford said. "You have your normal bruises that you have in a physical football game, but otherwise we're healthy on defense."

Following the 49-7 dismantling of Ohio, Louisville will welcome the Colonels to Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium on Saturday for a noon kickoff. Concerns of overconfidence is always be a worry for FBS programs when playing an FCS opponent.

"There's always a concern, but the one thing, if you're here with Coach Strong, he takes care of that," said Bedford. "We keep our guys in check. We are going to work hard in practice."

Bedford added that the key is to win every possession, no matter who your opponent may be.

"It doesn't matter what happened yesterday. You have to worry about today."

The defense will face a run first offense, including a quarterback that is a threat to leave the pocket at any time. EKU junior Jared McClain ran for 44 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also throwing for 155 yards and another pair of scores.

The threat of dual-threat quarterback may mean that the Colonels may see a few new looks from the Cardinals defense the weekend.

"We have a pretty good playbook that we can go to and use based on who we are playing, so we have some changes and surprises hopefully for this weekend."

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