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Five Thoughts On Louisville's Football Scrimmage

Andy Lyons

Louisville gave fans their last chance to see the team in action before the first game of the season with an open scrimmage today. Unlike the spring game, the first teams faced off against each other with the second teams doing the same. It gave fans a much better look at what we might see in a few weeks. A few thoughts on the three hour scrimmage:

  • Reggie Bonnafon has cemented himself as the second string quarterback. Bobby Petrino and Garrick McGee have raved about him since he arrived on campus and he looked the part today. Bonnafon looked poised and comfortable when he worked against the second team defense. He also looked plenty capable with the first team when he took reps with them. He's extremely mobile and can make plays with his feet. However, he is very much a pocket passer like Will Gardner is and Teddy Bridgewater was. He stands tall, keeps his eyes down field, and did well today using his eyes to hold the defense. He's definitely a player to be excited about.
  • There weren't many surprises with which guys lined up with the first teams on each side of the ball. Ryan Mack had been lining up at guard during the open practices but Jake Smith was at guard today with Tobijah Hughley at center. Kelby Johnson and Ryan Mack rotated with the first team at tackle later in the day, but it's tough to say who looked better. Both got beat multiple times in pass protection. On defense Terrel Floyd and Gerrod Holliman look to be the starting safeties. James Sample came in when the team went with the nickel package. Nothing was too different than what we saw in the practices.
  • If there was a side that "won" the scrimmage I would have to go with the offense. The issues on that side of the ball weren't nearly as glaring. The pass protection has to improve greatly. The edge rushers absolutely lived in the backfield. The tackles had a really hard time handling the speed of the defense. This might be in part because of the alignment of the 3-4. Blocking a guy that already has width on you isn't really an easy thing to do. The quarterbacks also didn't recognize blitzes well enough. They were pressured up the middle too easily. However, the skill guys killed it. DeVante Parker, James Quick, and Matt Milton all made big plays, while the entire group of running backs impressed. The offense as a whole moved the ball very well. The line just needs to show that it can handle the athletes they will see this year.
  • On the other hand, the defense had big issues stopping the run. After the spring game it was a big concern in my opinion, but your second team defense is likely to have issues stopping your first team offense while implementing a new scheme. The team speed showed every time the offense tried to get outside, which is a great sign. But, there were gaping holes up the middle that were exploited throughout the scrimmage. The interior defense has to be able to stop the run and it looks to be a pretty big concern right now. The secondary looked pretty good and the pass rush looked great. The run defense will need to improve in the next two weeks or it will be a glaring weakness to be exploited.
  • A handful of guys really stood out in the scrimmage. Dominique Brown caught the ball extremely well out of the backfield. His all around ability will probably be what separates him from Michael Dyer and LJ Scott. Corvin Lamb got a lot of touches with the second team and he didn't disappoint. He hit holes hard and caught the ball well. His knock has been that he is just a speed guy, but he looked pretty good in traffic today. Chucky Williams showed the same aggression and activity that he did in the spring game. He had an interception off of a deflection and laid a few big hits on receivers. He will definitely add depth at safety. Trevon Young looked really good rushing the passer today. He is a natural pass rusher which bodes well for him in this defense. He might be used as a situational third down rusher.
The scrimmage as a whole was positive in my opinion. The defense looked much better than it did in the spring. There weren't any moments where it looked like the defense was out of position or guys didn't know what to do. The depth chart looks less fluid, which means the coaches and players can work on game planning and focusing on playing together. There is a lot of pre-snap communication with this defense and I think it will be good for the eleven guys that will be playing together to have as much practice time together as possible.

The offense looks as explosive as fans have expected. The vertical plays were there all day and when the quarterbacks had time, they found their receivers open more times than not. The ability of this offense to be multidimensional will be a lot of fun to watch. The speed and skill outside will make it very hard for defenses to load the box to stop the run. Will Gardner had moments where he struggled today, but when he shined he looked really good. He took what the defense gave him then beat them over the top when he had an opening. The offense is playing well while the defense still has some room to grow.