Spring practice opens Thursday

The Louisville football team opens Spring Practice Thursday at the U of L practice fields. The practice sessions will conclude on Friday, April 18 with the annual Red-White Game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

Spring practices are scheduled for March 27, 28 & 29 and April 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17 and 18 and are open to the public. Weekday practices are set to begin at 3:30 p.m. each day, while Saturday practices will start at 12:00 p.m. The Spring Game, which is being held on Friday, April 18 will begin at 8:00 p.m. under the lights at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

Louisville return's a number of key players. On offense, the Cardinals have offensive linemen Travis Leffew, Dan Koons, Will Rabatin and Jason Spitz, all of whom saw starting duty at times in 2002 returning. Wide receivers Joshua Tinch, who finished second on the team in receiving yards last year, Broderick Clark, Antoine Harris, Victor Glenn and Tiger Jones all return. The Cardinal backfield returns senior T.J. Patterson and junior Lionel Gates, both of whom saw considerable action last fall. Ronnie Ghent, who missed the second half of the 2002 season after suffering an injury at Memphis, and Richard Owens, both return at tightend.

On defense, the returnees include tackles Tyrone Saterfield, Montavious Stanley and Bobby Leffew, who should get an opportunity to move to defensive end. Sophomore Elvis Dumervil, who saw limited duty along the defensive line as a true freshman last year, should get a look at linebacker as well this spring. Rod Day, who earned second-team All Conference USA honors at linebacker also returns, as does sophomore Brandon Johnson. The Cardinal secondary sees corners Laroni Gallishaw and Josh Minkins back, as well as safties Jon Gannon and Kerry Rhodes.

The special teams unit sees the return of Sporting News Freshman All-American kick returner Broderick Clark. Placekicker and punter Nate Smith also returns.

However, new head coach Bobby Petrino told InsidetheVille.com that through the first few days of spring practice there will be no depth chart.

"We've watched a lot of the game film and made cut ups of the returning players so we can evaluate their strengths and weaknesses," said Petrino. "Basically, as I told the players, there is no depth chart right now. Everyone has an opportunity. The evaluation process has started, so they know that they need to show us what they can do. That is the greatest thing about change, because it's a fresh start for everybody. We will have to have somebody lined up there [as the first unit], but they have from now until then to show us who that will be."

Offensive Coordinator and wide receivers coach Paul Petrino told ITV that the players daily workout grades will be posted, which will allow the players to have an understanding of where they need to improve.

"We're going to grade their effort every single day," said Paul Petrino. "Everyday we're going to post what their effort grades are. At the end of each week we'll rate the best players at each postion, so that will help us build a depth chart. It's not fair to have a depth chart right now because we haven't been out on the field with any of them."

Paul echoed what every coach at U of L has recently said about the start of spring practice.

"Just to get out there and get coaching will be real exciting," continued Paul. "Get to actually work with the kids and actually see them improve. We want to go out there and play with great emotion and enthusiasm every day and make sure we walk off that field better everyday and to have a good understanding of the offense by the end of spring."

Keep up with the latest news from the practice fields with the ITV Spring Football Guide

All photos © InsidetheVille.com 2003.

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