Speed off the ball. Toughness. Finish.
Louisville football’s offensive linemen know these three statements all to well. Offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford emphasizes the “three pillars” of the playing style that a lineman needs to have. So far, it has worked.
Louisville’s rushing attack ranks ninth in the country and best in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in its first two weeks, averaging 285.5 yards per game. Ledford’s desired demeanor has clicked with a position group that struggled in recent years.
Guard Caleb Chandler said the offensive linemen had a chip on their shoulder, which has helped motivate the group.
“The past few years the o-line hasn’t been the best here,” Chandler, a red-shirt sophomore said. “Everybody was talking about the o-line (being a weakness). We knew we needed to do something about it.”
Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield hasn’t hidden the importance of running the football, but depth along the offensive line was a major concern. Mekhi Becton commanded the left tackle position, but the rest of the line needed to be reworked.
Ledford established the necessity for versatility along the line in spring practices. T.J. McCoy and Cole Bentley have rotated at center. Chandler and Robbie Bell have started at the guard positions. Tyler Haycraft starts opposite of Becton at right guard.
“That sixth and seventh lineman, that guy has to play multiple positions,” Ledford said. “He is going to play guard, tackle and center. That’s the whole goal with that.”
The Cardinals used Adonis Boone and Renato Brown against EKU.
“I thought those guys went in there, it was good seeing those guys compete against another team. I thought they competed well,” Ledford said. “Both of those kids are working hard and trying to be one of those guys for us. I was impressed with what they went in and did.”
Bell said the offensive linemen go through the same drills and techniques every practice, which helps polish their skills. Along with consistency, the scheme has been simplified.
“The types of runs we are doing were in our former offense, but everything has been condensed, so it allows us to go out there and play,” Bell said.
Chandler and Bell both said rotating to different positions around the offensive line has helped the unit.
“When you move around the line it helps you get a better grasp of the system and philosophy,” Bell said.
Ledford said his offensive linemen are focused on preparation, calling them a joy to coach.
“I really like the maturity of the guys and how they have come out and prepared,” Ledford said. “I have been really impressed with how mature they have been.”