Scott Satterfield continued his trend of changes with his program by holding a spring game for the first time during his time at Louisville. Unfortunately, due to injuries, he was only able to do a practice with some scrimmage action mixed in. The team spent over two hours in front of fans going through some individual drills and then broke out into a full scrimmage for the majority of the time they were out there.
While you never really learn much from a spring game, it is always nice to see players who are stepping into vacated roles. With the injuries UofL has throughout the roster we got to see some young guys show what they could do as well as a glimpse of what the team’s depth will be this season.
Here are some of the notable things I saw today:
- We’ll start at quarterback because that’s what people typically want to hear about. Malik looked like his normal self. He missed a couple of throws down the field but he also hit on a couple of throws that were very impressive. What stood out to me was how decisive he was after the snap. He saw what he needed to see and got rid of the ball. He completed passes all over the field and got the ball to the running backs when other guys weren’t open. He needs to be able to translate these things to the games in the fall.
- UofL’s corners looked good to me today. They didn’t pick off any passes but they were there to make a play each time the ball was in the air. Trey Franklin broke up a pass in the endzone to Tyler Hudson where he raked his arm through Hudson’s and got his hand on the ball. Derrick Edwards and Rance Conner both made nice plays in coverage and Conner made a big hit on the sideline. Chandler Jones was also right there on the second play of the scrimmage when Tyler Harrell caught a deep ball from Malik. With UofL bringing in more transfers to help the secondary, it’s good to see these guys play well today. They should have better depth this year.
- The offensive line looked really good early on today. Michael Gonzalez played guard today with Adonis Boone and Caleb Chandler out. That’s a new wrinkle for the group. Luke Kandra also played with the first group at the other guard spot. The group opened up some big running lanes for Jalen Mitchell.
- The defensive front got their footing after the first drive and they were able to bottle up Tiyon Evans and get some negative plays. They got a lot of penetration throughout the practice and there were a handful of plays where they were disruptive and allowed the inside linebackers to run free and make the tackle. Some good signs from this group even though they have to prove it on the field that they can get stops and be consistent.
- Evans and Hudson are the only newcomers that played much today. M.J. Griffin played strong safety on defense but wasn’t involved in many plays. Evans broke outside for a nice touchdown run where he showed off his speed. He didn’t have much room to run outside of that play. Hudson got the ball a handful of times and ran away from the defense on an option play. Outside of those few plays, we didn’t really get to see too much from the new guys. While that was unfortunate, none of them looked like they were out of place. The size, speed, and comfort level were all there from what I saw.
- Caleb Banks played a lot of snaps today with the first group and the second group. His size stands out because he is so tall that his weight isn’t all that noticeable. But, he’s a big dude and his length is just as big a factor as his 303 pounds. He pushed guys around a lot today and I didn’t see him being blocked by one guy in any of the reps I watched of him. I know the coaching staff likes his potential but I tend to think they would really be talking him up if he was dominating practices. He’s a guy to keep an eye on but I still think they will try to add a transfer nose tackle to help.
- Banks was one of a handful of players that look noticeably bigger than last year. Ben Perry, Tyler Harrell, Josh Minkins, Dez Tell, and Derrick Edwards were a few others. Hopefully, we’ll see even more improvement in the fall. Guys like Ashton Gillotte, Kam Wilson, Marvin Dallas, Tyler Hudson, Dez Melton, and some of the defensive linemen could use some more bulk.
- Both James Turner and Brock Travelstead kicked field goals today. Travelstead made one from about 53 yards with room to spare.
- Dorian “Deebo” Jones and Dallas both had impressive interceptions today. Jones jumped a slant route and batted the ball to himself for a pick-six. Dallas dropped into his drop and got right into the passing lane on his interception. Both players made nice catches which we all know isn’t always what happens with this defense.
- Josh Minkins made the most plays today, in my opinion. He got up the field in run support and he made a couple of nice open-field tackles. He showed some flashes last year but I think having a full offseason will be big for him this season. He’s getting a ton of reps with Kenderick Duncan out with an injury and it looks like he’s taking full advantage.
- Kahlib Johnson didn’t participate in the scrimmage but he looked pretty good during the drills they ran. He has the size and he made a few nice throws to the sideline as well as down the field. He and Evan Conley will likely have a chance to be the backup this year with Brock Domann struggling to do much of anything today.
- Jalen Mitchell was the star on offense with a few touchdowns including a swing pass where he outran the defense. Top-end speed is not a strong point for Mitchell but he looked like he had an extra gear on that specific play. He’s the most consistent player on the offense and he looked like it today. The competition at running back is great but Mitchell will make it hard for someone else to take his starting spot. That’s a good thing for the offense.
- Overall, there wasn’t much to learn today but no glaring red flags with a lot of guys being out is a positive to me. Both sides of the ball were able to make plays. The defense got interceptions, sacks, and tackles for loss while the offense created big plays in the passing game. Scott Satterfield got to provide an entertaining afternoon for the fans who enjoy this type of thing even though it didn’t go off as originally planned.