For the first time this spring, one side of the ball stood out more than the other. UofL’s defense dominated the scrimmage portion of the practice on Friday and made nothing easy for the offense. I was only able to stay for the first hour, but at no point did the offense look like it was able to put anything together against the defense.
I’m not sure if things changed in the second half of practice but I will say that it was a positive that the defense looked good as opposed to the offense looking bad. This wasn’t poor play that the defense took advantage of. It was just very strong play by the defense to stuff the run and be sticky in coverage. It will be interesting to see how they perform in the spring game.
- The offense had a miserable start to the scrimmage but Jack Plummer continued to show off his accuracy. He delivered the ball on time and where it needed to be. The defense just made better plays.
- Pierce Clarkson made his debut in front of fans and after showing some rust early on in the practice, he started to show why he was such a highly-rated recruit. Clarkson made a couple of really impressive throws down the seam during drills.
- Clarkson didn’t participate during the live scrimmage while I was there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he took snaps during the spring game.
- Khalib Johnson had a strong start to the practice during drills but it went off the rails once the live reps started. He went 0-3 during a stretch with the second group and was pulled by Brian Brohm in favor of Evan Conley. I’m still holding out hope, but I haven’t seen anything so far to give me good feelings about him.
- The running backs were completely contained on Friday and I don’t think I saw a single play where they were able to gain meaningful yardage. I’m not sure if that was more on the blocking or on the backs for not finding space.
- Jadon Thompson was finally a full-go at the beginning of practice and he looked very quick and twitchy during drills. Unfortunately, he appeared to tweak something and ended up going back over to the side of the field to work out with a trainer. The little bit I got to see was impressive and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do this fall.
- The rest of the receivers continued to look the part even though the defensive backs dominated the scrimmage. The overall speed and athleticism have been improved with the additions from the portal. This group has depth that should be much better than last season.
- I would be pretty surprised if Jamari Johnson isn’t the number one tight end this fall. He’s the most talented option but it’s also very evident that the tight ends on the roster aren’t great fits for the new offense. They all played a role in Scott Satterfield’s scheme but Johnson is the only player I’ve seen be able to get open in the passing game.
- The starting offensive line protected the quarterback well while not opening up much room for the running backs. However, the second and third groups were pushed around and the defense pretty much did what they wanted during the scrimmage. It’s pretty obvious that the staff is looking for help here as they offered multiple portal linemen this weekend.
- I can’t say enough about how dominant the defense was in the hour of practice that I watched. Things had been pretty even up until this Friday but, for whatever reason, the defense just took over in this practice.
- With the move to the 4-2-5 scheme, we should see the defensive line really impact the run defense. As a group, they should eat up blocks and allow the linebackers to run free. We saw that on Friday as the linebackers continually had free shots on the running backs once they got to the second level.
- The linebackers didn’t have a great showing in a tackling drill early in the practice but they shut down the run game in the scrimmage. While there weren’t many tackles for loss, there were a bunch of run stuffs for very little yardage. They were in their gaps and they made the tackle consistently. It was very good to see from such an inexperienced group.
- Ben Perry and Antonio Watts were both great in the nickel spot with Watts picking off a pass and Perry having no issue running with slot receivers and breaking up a pass during the scrimmage. UofL appears to be very strong here.
- Trey Franklin put on a show during the part of the practice that I was around for. If he wasn’t undercutting routes, he was playing through the hands to break up a pass. Franklin was so sticky that even when the receiver ran a good route and the ball was on target, he was there to make a play on the ball. At one point I even entertained the idea of him stealing the starting spot from Quincy Riley who is sitting out with an injury.
- Louisville is thin in the secondary right now due to injuries but even with that being the case, I’m very hopeful that the strong play by the group this spring will translate to the fall. This group should have great depth with Riley, Josh Minkins, and Devin Neal all sitting out. Add Aaron Williams (if he’s cleared for the fall after his ACL surgery) and you have the potential for the secondary to be the strength of the defense.
- There were a good amount of players on the opposite side of the field being checked out by trainers. Austin Collins stood out to me. I spotted him limping into the locker room at one point.
- I have not seen MGK in the last two practices. The highly-touted transfer hadn’t done much to stand out in practices but it stands out that he isn’t practicing.
- UofL picked up a transfer offensive lineman and offered two more transfers this weekend. I’d imagine we will either see a guy or two hit the portal or some of the young guys may be sitting on the bench this fall.
- Tight end, linebacker, and cornerback are the other positions I’d expect the staff to target in the portal based on what I’ve seen this spring.
- Jermayne Lole is another player that I didn’t see at practice. Keep in mind that I’m in the stands and I consistently miss guys. But I didn’t see him on the field during the scrimmage.