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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Savoy's determination is just what Cards need (8/10)

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By Chuck Jones

By CHUCK JONES cjones@thenewsenterprise.com LOUISVILLE — Coming out of John Hardin High School, William Savoy didn’t have his pick of any college in the country to continue his football career. The offers were limited to say the least for the two-time Associated Press first-team defensive tackle. Savoy, backed by his strong faith, believed he could play at a Division-I school. He elected to walk-on at the University of Louisville and spent last season watching from the sidelines as a redshirt freshman with no guarantee of future playing time. Although he cleared one obstacle by making the team, Savoy was far from satisfied. He dedicated himself to the weight room, adding more than 25 pounds to his 6-foot-1 frame. “It’s different than night and day,” Savoy said of the weight lifting program in college compared to high school. “It’s more scheduled and it’s more competitive. I worked hard every day to get stronger. I knew I had to.” Savoy saw a golden opportunity during spring drills to make a name for himself. With the Cardinals undergoing a major overhaul after a disappointing 6-6 season and with limited depth at certain positions, especially on defense, Savoy’s play caught the attention of his coaches. In the Louisville media guide, Savoy is listed third on the preseason depth chart at defensive end, but like usual, he wants more. And he could get it. During the first week of fall camp, Savoy has spent time working with the first team defense. Quite an impressive leap from walk-on to possible contributor in just two years. “It’s been a challenge,” Savoy said. “I have to give everything to God. The G-unit, which is the defensive line, has been really accepting. (Defensive line) coach (Ken) Delgado has helped me a lot. I’ve noticed we’re working harder as a group. The cohesiveness is much better this year. I think that will help this year.” It sure couldn’t hurt. Look at the numbers from last season. The defense gave up 31.4 points a game, seventh in the Big East, and seven opponents scored 38 or more points. The Cardinals also ranked seventh in the league in total defense (416.5 yards a game) and rushing defense (165.3 yards a game). Ron English, who spent the previous five seasons at Michigan, including the last two as the defensive coordinator, was brought in during the offseason to overhaul the porous defense. English preaches playing with “great emotion and intensity” and the Cardinals are getting the message. “We are believing in the system,” Louisville senior defensive tackle Earl Heyman said. “We’re going at it harder than I’ve ever seen. The spring was our adjustment period (to English). We know what’s expected from us. We’ve got to focus and learn from our mistakes.” The Cardinals hope to do just that. They entered last year with high expectations, coming off a 12-1 season capped with a win in the Orange Bowl. After lackluster wins over Murray State and Middle Tennessee State, Louisville’s season began to crumble with back-to-back losses to Kentucky and Syracuse. When it was all said and done, Louisville was 6-6 and watching the bowl games from home for the first time in nine years. “Everybody is working harder to get better,” Savoy said. “Nobody wants to go through another season like last year. People are more than willing to do whatever is asked of them to make sure that doesn’t happen again. I just want to make some plays this year and help out. That’s the big thing.” No, the big thing is Savoy’s determination in making his dream a reality. Savoy’s success story could help lead the Cardinals to success. Chuck Jones is the sports editor for The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at 505-1759 or at cjones@thenewsenterprise.com