The Louisville Cardinals had an extremely promising start to the 2016 season, but it ended in disappointment in large part because the offensive line fell apart.
But this summer, Louisville coach Bobby Petrino likes what he sees from this offensive line group.
Both of last year’s tackles, Geron Christian and Lukayus McNeil, will be back, which should begin to solidify the line. Petrino called Christian a “tremendous talent” and said he could be used at multiple positions according to the Courier Journal, but Christian has only played Louisville’s “quickside” tackle spot this summer.
McNeil will enter this season a lot stronger than he initially was. He benched press 400 pounds this week according to the Courier Journal, which is 175 more pounds than he did a year ago.
Junior guard Kenny Thomas, who was used as a backup last year, figures to be a starting guard this season. Petrino told the media that he is down to 22 percent body fat, which puts him in unbelievable shape for an offensive lineman.
The big question, though, will be at center since senior Tobijah Hughley left. Redshirt freshman Robbie Bell started at center for the spring game and has the best chance of winning the job. True freshman Cole Bentley was holding the other No. 1 guard spot at the end of spring practices.
The Cardinals offensive line allowed the third-most sacks in the entire country last season, yielding 3.62 sacks per game. And that was with the very athletic, running Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Louisville must protect Jackson better in 2017 if they are going to win the Atlantic Division.