For the purposes of getting them more reps than would be possible in a full squad practice and to help get them acclimated to the pace and structure of practice, Bobby Petrino and staff hold separate practices for "newcomers" (with some exceptions for scheduling or balance reasons). Today that group went in pads for the first time and here's a few of the things that I took away.
- Pretty much anyone out there today went to see Lamar Jackson throw the ball and he didn't disappoint. Is he going to start? Of course not. Can he make every throw one will have to make at the college level? Absolutely. He has the "live arm" that Petrino raved about heading into camp opening. The primary challenge? The combination of knowing the plays, knowing the drops, knowing the footwork, and then stepping in and making good throws. The other challenge? Doing it the same way every time. He releases the football 10 different ways. But you could see him get more comfortable even over the course of one practice and accept a great deal of coaching from McGee and Petrino both. Oh, he is a ridiculous runner in the open field, too.
- I can't envision a scenario where Tyler Ferguson is the Louisville quarterback.
- The current Louisville defense looks quite strong up the middle with Rankins, Brown, Kelsey, Burgess, Fields, Brown, Chucky Williams, and Josh Harvey-Clemons. The future Louisville defense with GG Robinson, Drew Bailey, Amonte Caban, Dee Smith, and Khane also looks the part. All of them have the size and athleticism for their positions and have bright futures, even though their playing time is likely limited with the current roster. The defense isn't going anywhere.
- There's been talk of Devante Peete possibly being a future tight end but that's not going to happen. He's a wide receiver. And the threesome of Peete, Emonee Spence, and Jaylen Smith all look the part. If you didn't know better, you'd never believe all three are true freshmen. Spence and Smith in particular could see the field early in their careers. They've all plenty of work to do in terms of route running and technique, but the physical build and instincts are there.
- Petrino said that Devonte Fields showed up out of shape. I aspire to one day be as out of shape as Devonte Fields. He looks fine to me. In fact, I and the group of media folks that watched practice together agreed it was really unfair for the walk-on linemen that were forced to face a former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in a "newcomers practice. I'm still really high on Keith Brown at that OLB spot, but Fields is going to make him work to hold it.
- It was hard to get a lot out of the offensive line at this practice, but I think you could easily say the overall size of the offensive line is no longer a problem. Chandler Jones, who is looking at redshirting for sure, Danny Burns and Lukayus McNeil as redshirt freshmen, and Toriano Roundtree who was just added to the squad as a walk-on, all look enormous up close. Which of them can improve technique and learn responsibilities quickly enough to push the others remains to be seen. Still, unlike last season where there just weren't options, that won't be a problem now.
Again, not a ton to glean from early practices with limited squads, but these were the things that I walked away thinking about. They'll do it all again tomorrow with vets at 2:30 and newcomers again at 6:30.