A common sight during the second half of the 2003 season was a tired Louisville defensive line and the obvious wearing down of the Cardinal line in the second half of U of L's 41-38 loss at Miami last Thursday reminded many of the problem of a year ago.
Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino was quick to point out that this year's defensive line had not experienced a situation similar to what it faced against the 3rd-ranked Hurricanes.
"Something you always come back to think about, is that our defense hadn't been in that situation before," said Petrino.
In it's previous four outings, the U of L offense frequently provided extended periods of rest for the defense by mounting clock-eating drives.
"A lot of times in the second half we can take over the time of possession with the running game, but we weren't able to do that [against Miami]," explained Petrino. "We had to keep throwing the ball. We just couldn't control it like you need to...if we could have put together an 8-minute drive that would have helped the defense stay fresh."
Petrino however, isn't planning on taking any chances of a repeat of last year.
"I was seriously thinking, how do we condition our defense more than our offense when we come back and run," said Petrino. "I didn't do it, but maybe I should have."
What Coach Petrino does anticipate is the increase of game time action by atleast three defensive linemen in true freshman Brandon Cox, junior Chad Rimpsey, as well as redshirt freshman Shane Bailey.
"I think we need to get Brandon Cox involved more, so we can keep the defensive ends fresh," Petrino said. "When Chad Rimpsey came in the game he was very productive. He had a couple tackles right off the bat. He's very fast, so he can help us a lot with pressure."
Bailey, initially a defensive end, appears to be headed for action as a defensive tackle reserve.
"We also need to get Shane Bailey involved in the rotation inside, just so we can keep them fresh inside."
With a strong starting group that has surprised most with its ability to stop the run and apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks, adding Cox, Rimpsey and Bailey into the rotation will help secure a strong second half of 2004 by the Louisville defense.