For college football junkies, like myself, spring football practices are a sweet yet cruel taste of endless possibilities for the upcoming fall season. It’s a time that teases you with true freshmen running backs that looks like the next Adrian Peterson and red-shirt freshmen showing that they are now contenders to overtake an upperclassman for a starting spot.
For Louisville fans, it’s a time when they can go out to a practice and sit leisurely in the first row at the fifty-yard line, as if they own the stadium, and get their first look at their favorite returning players.
This is possible again for Card Nation thanks to head coach Bobby Petrino opening up all of the spring practices, something the last guy that coached here, wouldn’t do.
Here’s a few tidbits I have taken away so far in spring practices:
* The Cards are loaded at a few positions, most notably, running back, wide receiver, defensive end, and corner back.
* The projected starters on the offensive line (Jamon Brown, John Miller, Jake Smith, Abraham Garcia and Ryan Mack) form a veteran line with great size and ability. If the Cards can get solid second string line to come along and spell relief, it will mean long days are ahead of opposing defenses.
* I mentioned true freshman running back L.J. Scott yesterday as a head turner. As good as he’s looked, Dominique Brown, Michael Dyer and Brandon Radcliff have looked great as well. Corvin Lamb still has his unbelievable speed and just adds to the uber-talented backfield.
* Will Gardner will be tough to beat out for the starting QB spot. His size and arm strength are very impressive. Throw in the fact that he has elite receivers to throw to, elite backs to hand it off to, a veteran line and you have the perfect situation fora new QB. Let’s not forget he also has one of the best QB coaches and mentors in Petrino.
* The Cards are thin at linebacker and desperately need some of the new guys to step up big in case of injuries. I love the first group of guys in James Burgess, Keith Brown, Keith Kelsey and Nick Dawson but behind that, things could be dicey. Lyn Clark looks like he will be good and although James Hearns was working out with the defensive ends, I would venture to say that he will be moved back to the linebackers for depth.
* DeVante Parker looks like an NFL receiver now and his speed is very deceiving. I don’t think any corner back in college can contain him one-on-one for very long. It’s possible that Parker will put up video-game-like numbers under Petrino.
* Defensive tackle and nose guard are positions that look very strong with the starters but will probably need someone to mature quickly to provide depth. Moving to the 3-4 defense as a primary base is perfect for this team, given the players they have.
* A healthy Michaelee Harris and Kai DeLa Cruz makes an already insanely good receiver group, out of this world and possibly the best in the ACC. Both Harris and DeLa Cruz look extremely sharp so far. I expect Harris to be one of the most improved players in the country and put up some very good numbers.
* I was worried about the corner back position up until recent. Terell Floyd and Charles Gaines will probably be the starters and form a dynamic duo. Andrew Johnson, Devontre Purnell, Richard Benjamin and Charles Williams look like they will be very good and provide huge relief when needed. All six of those guys could make cases for being a starter.
* Lorenzo Mauldin and Deiontrez Mount will form two of the best rush-end combos in the country and should be a nightmare for opposing offensive tackles and quarterbacks. If the Cards want to gear more toward stopping the run, they can put in Sheldon Rankins and Johnny Richardson. Rankins has been spectacular in the spring.
* It was really fun for me, maybe not so much for the players, to see Petrino back on the field running a practice. He really does conduct things differently than most and almost runs a no-nonsense boot camp type of practice. He really institutes a fast pace and this will help the guys in their conditioning.
*** One final note
It’s really hard to judge a players skills very well when they are practicing, not in full pads, and not facing an opposition. My notes are just merely my observations from watching a players speed, technical skills, footwork, and competitiveness among other things.
Obviously some players don’t practice well and then shine during game play and vice-versa. We will be able to know a little more about all the players when they compete in the annual Red-White spring game next Friday, April 11 at 7:30 PM. Gates open at 6:00 and there will lots of things for the whole family to do so get there early.