LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Since head coach Scott Satterfield took over the Louisville football program, the Cardinals have boasted a potent offense. With a dynamic quarterback Malik Cunningham, a deep running back room and veteran options at wide receiver, they are very much in line to boast a top-25 offense for the fourth straight year.
However, the Cardinals’ strengths at the offensive skill positions are only part of the equation for success on that side of the line of scrimmage. What will allow those weapons on offense to thrive is the talent and depth on the offensive line, which Louisville has plenty of.
In fact, if you ask left guard Caleb Chandler, he sees no weaknesses on the offensive line.
“I don’t see any holes in this offensive line at all. I have a lot of faith in everybody,” he said. “I’m not worried about somebody not doing their job. I just think we have straight dogs on this offensive line. I feel like I haven’t had that at any position in years past. But right now, it’s exciting because we “We can definitely be, not only the best offensive line in the ACC, but in the entire country.”
When you look at every point on Louisville’s offensive line, you can certainly tell that they are one of the best in the Power Five. First and foremost, Chandler is one of the best linebackers in football, earning preseason All-American honors from the AP, Athlon Sports, Walter Camp, Sporting News and Pro Football Focus.
But he hasn’t been the only Louisville forward to receive some preseason recognition. Left tackle Trevor Reid, right guard Adonis Boone and right tackle Renato Brown have all been named to the preseason All-ACC teams by Pro Football Focus or Athlon Sports. The only starter projected not to receive any kind of preseason praise is center Bryan Hudson, despite his efforts as Louisville’s sixth man on the line last year.
The starters aren’t the only ones pulling their weight on the offensive line. Chandler noted that many of the young guys in the room have exceeded expectations as well.
“I saw Luke Kandra improve tremendously. Luke is going to be a dog this year and the next few years for this program. Michael Gonzalez is better and more comfortable. Even though he was great as a true freshman last year past, just seeing how much more comfortable he is, it’s pretty cool to see. Josh Black is out there fighting every day, Austin Collins. Just seeing those young guys step up and get better after just a few years of being here is very wonderful.
“That made the competition very, very tough in the offensive line room. We still put the same guys out every day, but we also rotate a lot. So you’re going to see Luke at right guard or left guard at some point, and you’re going to see Me under center and stuff like that. The battle in the offensive line room is pretty hot, so we just have to see what we do next week going into Syracuse.”
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This was already a group that had a high level of success last season. Despite a slow start to their 2021 campaign, Louisville still finished the season allowing just 1.54 sacks per game for 25th in the entire FBS and 4.77 tackles for loss allowed for 31st.
As several other players in the other position groups have noted, Chandler says new strength coach Ben Sowders has had a tremendous impact on the offensive line. According to Louisville’s official roster, 11 of the 16 offensive linemen, on scholarship or walking, are 297 pounds or taller.
“He’s impacted us in a big way,” Chandler said. “We’ve got guys that are bigger, stronger and faster on the offensive line. He’s meant to keep our lower body strong, so we’re going down almost every day. He’s been good with us. He’s brought us closer, not only as an offensive line, but as a team. He’s made it fun here. He’s made it fun to come into the weight room, he’s made it fun to walk into the building.”
As for Chandler himself, he hasn’t been consumed by all the preseason praise he’s received. His mindset has been the same since the end of last season: lead Louisville to the ACC Championship.
“My thought process is just the ACC championship,” he said. “The ratings, it’s all kind of a blessing and I’m really grateful for it, but maybe it would have been different for me a year or two ago. My whole vision and focus is on the ACC Championship, and doing what I can. to help his team win. That’s literally all I think about. (Offensive line coach Nic) Cardwell has been by my side for all the accolades, but he knows, everybody knows, everybody my mindset is strictly on the championship.”
Louisville will begin the 2022 season when they travel to upstate New York to face Syracuse on Saturday, September 3rd.
(Louisville Lines Photo: Michelle Hutchins – Special to Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC)
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