It's never easy to play defense against a Bobby Petrino coached offense, and University of Louisville defensive coordinator is figuring it out the hard way.
Grantham, one of the most respected defensive minds in the game, is preparing for the 2014 season against one of the nation's best offensive units. The Cardinals scrimmaged on Monday evening and Grantham's defense was certainly put to the test, but they did make a number of plays.
"Any time you're going against an offense like ours, there are going to be some positive plays, there are going to be some plays that you could improve upon," Grantham said. "I liked our energy. I liked the way we competed. You saw guys progress on spring from summer until now.
"They made plays that maybe weren't made in the spring. That was a positive sign. I thought the guys had energy out there when they were playing. Communication was improved. Overall, I thought it was a solid day. The big thing is we've got to continue to grind and get better every day for the opener."
With 19 days before the opener, the defense, which only returned four starters, has made progress, but Grantham understands there is a long way to go before the Cardinals are a dominant defense.
"I think we were pretty decent on third down," Grantham said. "I think we've got to continue to work on our first and second down run defense. You need to create negative plays to put the offense in second and seven or more."
The Cardinals spend a lot of time working in the red zone, and Grantham knows how crucial that area is if the Cardinals are going to succeed in the ACC.
"Red zone is a critical spot," Grantham said. "In a game, if you can hold people to field goals you're going to hold them to low numbers, which is the most important thing playing defense. We'll continue to stress those things and let guys continue to play and develop."
"Today was a lot of situational stuff," Grantham said. "A situation we call "coming out." The offense has the ball on the one-yard line. Defensively, that's a situation that we want to think three-and-out. Any time you can give the offense field position on our plus-50, their chance of scoring is probably 50 percent greater.
"We worked two-minute skelly which there the big thing is what's the situation going to be, field goal or touchdown. With college football the way they go no-huddle now, it's not really speeding up the game from that standpoint." Grantham has gotten a good look at what the Cardinals are going to put in the field on offense this season. With eight starters back, the offense has a number of key playmakers returning, and Grantham's defense has had to be ready during each practice.
"Our offense is explosive," Grantham said. "They've got a lot of talented guys, they're well-coached. They've got a good scheme, so they're definitely going to test you in what they're doing. I've been very pleased and really proud of our players the way they've really tried to work in the offseason to develop their knowledge of the defense and the techniques that we want them to play with.
"You see some improvement there. So I'm really proud of the way these guys have worked through the summer and through training camp so far."
The Cardinals' defense has to go up against one of the best offenses and offensive minds in practice each day. Hopefully, when Sept. 1 comes along, the Cardinals will be well-prepared when they face another explosive offense in the Miami Hurricanes.