Louisville's defense finished last season among the top five defenses in America and only gave up 12 points per game. Louisville outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin knows that will be tough to replicate with an upgraded schedule that includes defending national champion Florida State.
"That's just the main thing, competition," Mauldin said. "The ACC has a lot of talent in it, and it just feels good to be in the ACC, first off. You know, I feel good to say that Louisville is in the ACC now. We finally get a chance to get recognition nationally because we've gotten plenty of times where they said that Louisville doesn't play anybody. So now we get a chance to play some nice powerhouses. You've got the FSUs, the Clemsons and the Notre Dames, and you get a chance to go out nationally and say we beat these teams."
And about that defense? Can it possibly replicate last season's success?
"Altogether, out of 13 games, I'd say (158 points allowed) is few. We've held a lot of teams under 20 points. That's an accomplishment for our defense since for the last three years we've been playing here, or I've been playing here," Mauldin said before adding, "I feel like that's an accomplishment for the defense, and we plan to do that or less this year."
When asked what would be the goal for his defensive unit this season, Mauldin set a lofty standard.
"Well, initially you don't want to give up any points," Mauldin explained. "Your initial point in going into a game is to get a goose egg. There was only one game last year where we had that. We want to be around the 80, 70, 80 points throughout the season, just from coming out from being the No. 1 defense in the nation. We plan to fall back on that this year."
Louisville's defense lost a pair of first round picks in safety Calvin Pryor (New York Jets) and pass rusher Marcus Smith (Philadelphia Eagles) as well as linebacker Preston Brown, a third-rounder to the Buffalo Bills.