For the most part, Friday's open practice looked exactly like what it was: a young team going through its second practice of fall camp.
It was sloppy at times and there were multiple instances of coaches going off on players for being in the wrong spot or making the wrong read, but the two biggest things I took away from Friday's practice were both positives. First, this team, like last year's team, is going to play its collective balls off. Anyone not willing to go full speed isn't going to see the field. Second, the Louisville Cardinals are once again starting to look like a top-level BCS team. I'm not talking about "looking" in terms of raw talent or execution, I'm talking about actual size and strength. It's an attribute that has been very noticeably absent the past two or three years.
I'm not sure I've witnessed a larger crowd at an open practice. There had to have been over 1,000 people in attendance, and at the height of practice the lines to see the field were going six or seven deep. Well done, Cardinal fans.
Not the best day for the quarterbacks, but again, it's one practice and the second day of camp.
It's already been said, but right now Will Stein is obviously superior to his backups. He's also the obvious leader on the offensive side of the ball.
Stein was extremely accurate during the first part of practice, but seemed to press a little bit during 7-on-7. He was picked once by Dexter Heyman and should have been picked another time by Deon Rogers. Still, there wasn't much downfield throwing going on during the drill, so reading into this at all would be foolish.
If the offensive line can gave Will the time necessary to get the ball to the open playmaker, he'll get it done.
He's still certainly got a ways to go, but I thought Teddy Bridgewater looked miles ahead of where he was when we last saw him in April. He has tremendous natural footwork, and every now and then he'd make a throw that gave a little bit of insight into just how good he could be. Obviously it's hard for a guy with a skill set like Bridgewater's to truly show out in a non-contact practice, but the fact that he looks so improved, even in this setting, is definitely something to smile about.
Dominique Brown got better as the practice went on, and actually wound up throwing the best deep ball of the day. He also got ripped by multiple coaches after not going full speed on a kickoff return rep.
If there was a star on this day, it was Josh Bellamy. Simply put, there was no one on the field who could cover him. Bellamy had extreme separation in every one-on-one drill he ran, and caught everything thrown his way. He also continued to improve on his reputation as the team's biggest trash-talker.
If you can back it up...
Andrell Smith was also tremendous, and turned in the biggest highlight of the day with a one-handed grab on a deep pass during one-on-ones. Again, who ever's under center (or 3-4 yards behind center) is going to have no shortage of weapons at his disposal this year.
Michaelee Harris was having a very solid practice before injuring his thumb and having to sit out the last hour. Haven't heard anything from anyone on his status.
DeVante Parker will be an absolute star at Louisville. I'm not going to say "write it down," or "take it to the bank," but it's a statement I'm very, very confident about.
Eli Rogers is dealing with a hand injury and did not participate in skeleton drills.
Conner, as many predicted before the season, appears to be the best overall cover man on the team. Paschal looks the part, and is solid fundamentally, but his lack of foot speed was noticeable on a number of occasions. I don't think it's an issue with not being able to get his hips around quickly enough, he just isn't able to stay stride-for-stride with the man he's covering. Definitely an issue if Bedford is hoping to use him in press situations.
Preston Pace appears to have put on some considerable muscle and made a couple of nice plays. Charles Gaines also looks the part, but the fact that he's just learning the position was very obvious. Our man Titus Teague was solid (if not spectacular) as was true frosh Andrew Jonson.Terrell Floyd and Anthony Branch both also had their moments.
To sum up: it's going to be an all-out (and crowded) battle for these two starting spots over the next several weeks.
Darius Ashley was listed on the official roster handed out at practice, but he was nowhere to be seen in body.
Contrary to rumors, Mike Evans is still playing safety, and is not working out with the corners.
Your starting D-Line: Will Savoy, Scruggs Island, Brandon Dunn and Malcolm Mitchell. As expected, the Browns (Preston and Daniel) and Dexter Heyman are your starters in the middle.
The starting O-line was Benavides at center and then a few surprises. Alex Kupper will be protecting high school teammate Will Stein's blind side at left tackle, Kamran Joyer is at left guard, Jake Smith at right guard, and Ryan Kessling at right tackle.
You only got to see Jeremy Wright go full speed during kickoff return drills, and he certainly appeared to be back to full strength. I've never seen a kid move so quickly with so little effort. And the amazing thing is it looks the same way both in person and on television.
Wright and Victor Anderson appear to be your two starting kick returners, with Corvin Lamb, Dominique Brown, Bellamy, Andrell Smith, and freshman Jerrell Moore also getting some reps.
Jamon Brown (Fern Creek) is the biggest true freshman I have ever seen. He and redshirt freshman Jamaine Brooks look every bit of their listed 325+ weight.
Jarrett Davis had the best practice out of the seemingly interchangeable sophomore receiver trio of he, Damian Copeland and Kai Dominguez. Again, that means nothing. All three are fine players and all three will see the field.
Junior tight end Nate Nord was in pads, but did not go through drills (at least the ones that were visible to fans). He's still dealing with the shoulder injury that kept him out of practice on Wednesday.
Brian Brohm was there...and he was wearing sunglasses despite there being absolutely no sun, and a shirt with a Bible verse on the back. Just when I think the kid can't sink any lower...
Permanently banned from Carmody's Cafe. Actually that happened the moment you tried to steal Art's nachos.
Freshman Deiontrez Mount appeared to pull a hamstring very early on in practice. He left the practice field before returning with the area wrapped, and watched the rest of the practice from the sidelines.
I'm not sure who was handling the long-snapping duties (Grant Donovan?), but they were struggling.
Lorenzo Mauldin has the size to play right away (and there's a good chance he will, even at DE), but he was struggling a little bit with the mental part of the game on Thursday.
It was a bit weird only seeing four guys in yellow jerseys (Luke Brohm is the only other QB on the roster). In every year past there have been three or four scholarship quarterbacks and then three or four walk-on QBs. I guess Will's just that intimidating.
Don't forget, this morning's 11:30 a.m. practice will also be open to the public. I'm not going to be able to make it, so if you do and feel motivated enough to post a review, it would be greatly appreciated.
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