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Louisville freshman linebacker Etheridge becoming pivotal piece of nationally ranked defense

For seven-consecutive seasons, Louisville’s defense has ranked in the top-25 nationally. Breaking into the lineup, given the success over that span, is an all but easy task.

Dorian Etheridge, however, has shown that he is anything but a standard freshman. When he took the field in the season opener against Purdue, he became the first true freshman to start at linebacker since James Burgess during the 2012 season.

From the start of fall camp through the first two games of the season, both victories, Etheridge has displayed an exceptional ability to understand the playbook and deliver at an important position.

From the start of fall camp through the first two games of the season, both victories, Etheridge has displayed an exceptional ability to understand the playbook and deliver at an important position (UofL Athletics Photo)

“It’s always a great feeling coming in and playing your first year,” Etheridge said. “It’s tough though. Every week, you’re constantly getting better. The group of guys we have – they’re great players. You can’t beat them. You have try not to be the weak link of the team or the starting defense, so you have to stay ahead.”

Though his confidence may lack a little because of the inexperience, the Charleston, W.Va., native actually hasn’t been shy in putting his nose to the ball. He is one of six players with double-digit tackles, courtesy of an eight-tackle performance in the victory at North Carolina.

As part of a defense that is loaded with veterans, inside linebackers Cort Dennison believes Etheridge can still improve – but is confident in his ceiling.

“Dorian’s done well, but like I said, he’s got plenty of room for improvement too,” Dennison said. “He’s obviously a freshman and he’ll have his growing pains, but I’ve been really impressed with his maturity level, the way he’s handling himself. He’s tackled well. He’s been on special teams. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. I’m excited for Dorian, not only this year, but he’s got a really bright future.”

Etheridge credits his quick learning to one of his fellow linebackers Stacy Thomas.

A senior from Miami, Fla., Thomas totaled a career-best 85 stops as a junior and played a valuable role in key games last year, racking up seven tackles against Florida State and 11 against LSU in the Citrus Bowl. In his career, he has played in 41 games – 13 as a freshman – and amassed 135 tackles. He

“He’s been here for so long, so he’s seen everything,” Etheridge said. “Any time I have a question, he always gives me the answer. He’s always there. Anything I need, he helps me.”

That is proving not only to be helpful to Etheridge, but also to Louisville’s defense that ranks second nationally in rushing defense and 28th in sacks per game.

With one of the biggest matchups in program history on the doorstep, Louisville needs both sides of the ball to play exceptional. And though Etheridge is still getting a taste of football at the collegiate level, he doesn’t view Saturday’s contest against No. 3 Clemson any differently.

“Every game is a big game for me.”

ESPN’s College GameDay visits Louisville

ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot visits the University of Louisville this weekend for a top-15 matchup between the Cardinals and defending national champion Clemson at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Saturday’s game is being broadcast on ABC and scheduled to start at 8:12 p.m.

College football’s longest-running and most-celebrated pregame show provides a remarkable opportunity for fans to have a fun, spirited, and safe time leading up to the Atlantic Coast Conference showdown.

The ESPN College GameDay set will be on the lawn in front of Grawemeyer Hall (2301 S 3rd Street Louisville, KY 40208). Lines are expected to form for fans to gain access to the areas closest to the stage beginning at 4 a.m., however, tents are not permitted. The pit behind the stage will open at approximately 5 a.m.

Access to the Stadium and GameDay Area

Limited free parking (about 600 spaces) is available for the public on Saturday morning only in the parking lot at 2545 South 3rd Street, located south of Eastern Parkway on 3rd Street. Fans may park in this lot until 2 p.m. Additional parking may be available surrounding the UofL campus, but some lots are used for event parking related to the game Saturday night.

The Ville’ns, UofL’s student support group, will assist in handing out T-shirts to the first 1,000 fans to enter the pit. Donuts will be available for fans as they enter the pit on Saturday morning.

The gates to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium will open two hours prior to kickoff, starting at 6 p.m., with special Happy Hour pregame drink prices available. Fans arriving early can purchase a draft beer for $3 and canned beer for $4 on the Norton Terrace only.

Rules for “The Pit”

· Fans may arrive early to begin lining up for access to the pit at 4 a.m. ET, with the area being open around 5 a.m.
· Fans entering the pit will be checked by a security wand
· No bags, backpacks or purses permitted in the pit
· No offensive, vulgar, inappropriate or solicitation signage will be allowed (i.e., no political, religious, or .com, .org, .net signage)
· No signs on a stick
· No pens, pencils, markers or dry erase boards
· No food or drinks
· Throwing of objects is prohibited

Schedule of Events

· 3 p.m. – College Football Live will be taped from the GameDay set.
· 4 a.m. – Fans may begin lining up for access to pit behind the GameDay set.
· 5 a.m. – The pit behind the ESPN College GameDay set opens.

During the morning ESPN SportsCenter is expected to have reports live from the GameDay set.

· 9 a.m. – Noon – ESPN College Gameday will be live in the lawn in front of Grawemeyer Hall
· 5:45 p.m. – CardMarch – Fans are encouraged to participate in the pregame CardMarch, which provides fans an opportunity to greet the Cardinals and cheer them on as the team enters the stadium. The team will be dropped off on the south side of the Denny Crum Overpass on Central Avenue two hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff. With the assistance of the UofL marching band and spirit groups, the team will walk from the Green Lot, through the tunnel and into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Fans are invited to arrive early and create an entrance way for the players as they head into the stadium. For those not attending the GameDay set, look to provide support for the team as they arrive.
· 6 p.m. – Gates open to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium
· 8:12 p.m. – Clemson at Louisville kickoff

A list of stadium policies, including prohibited items that may not be brought into the stadium, is available online at this link.

From UofL Athletics

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