Scrimmage News and Notes
Last Saturday, the play of the Cardinal defense highlighted the first major scrimmage of spring drills. Today, the Cardinal offense turned the tide and had its day in the sun. Quarterbacks Justin Rascati and Stephon LeFors, running backs Eric Shelton and Lionel Gates and a host of receivers headlined by J.R. Russell , led a balanced Cardinal attack to 276 passing yards and 224 yards rushing for 500 yards of total offense and seven offensive touchdowns.
But the star of the day for the Cardinal offense was sophomore running back Eric Shelton. Apparently, the rust is gone after sitting out last season as a transfer from Florida State. Shelton, 6'3, 235, carried 20 times for 120 yards and three touchdowns. Shelton ran hard, broke tackles and blocked well and appears to be staking his claim to the starting tailback spot.
The defense also had it's share of fine moments. The line continued to pressure the Cardinal quarterbacks, registering 10 sacks on the day, while the secondary broke up 6 passes and recorded one INT. Defensive standouts included sophomore defensive end Elvis Dumervil (4 sacks), corner Laroni Gallishaw (INT), and defensive tackle Montavious Stanley (sack, 2 TFL).
QB competition even
The battle to become the number one quarterback entering fall camp appears virtually even between Stephon LeFors and Justin Rascati. LeFors, the better runner, completed 10 of 16 passes for 123 yards, 2 TD's and 1 INT, while Rascati, the better passer, completed 12-19 for 163 yards and 1 TD against the #1 defense. Neither QB separated himself from the other today but both continued to show steady progress and promise.
Receiving corp has excellent depth
Perhaps the deepest unit on the Cardinal roster is receiver. Ten Cardinal wide outs caught passes in Saturday's scrimmage, led by J.R. Russell (5, 60, 1TD). Sophomore Tiger Jones had an excellent outing catching 3 passes for 70 yards, Dontay Spillman caught 3 ball for 34 yards, Joshua Tinch hauled in 2 passes for 18 yards, Victor Glenn caught 2 passes for 35 yards and a touchdown and fullback DJ Kamer caught 2 passes coming out of the backfield for 22 yards and 1 TD.
Defensive line active
The UofL defensive linemen spent considerable time in the backfield today. Elvis Dumervil was particularly effective coming off the edge and registered 4 sacks on the day. Dumervil, an undersized lineman, uses good quickness and excellent strength to get around bigger offensive lineman and pressure the quarterback. Montavious Stanley also played well. Stanley had one sack, 2 TFL and made an impressive tackle of Eric Shelton coming from behind. Senior tackle Scott Lopez got in the backfield, batted down one pass and registered 1/2 sack.
Shelton and Gates outstanding duo
The tandem of Eric Shelton and Lionel Gates continue to push each other and both appear to have benefited from the competition. Shelton ran tough between the tackles, found the endzone three times and showed the speed to turn the corner. He also made an outstanding block picking up a blitzing Brandon Johnson to prevent a certain sack and caught one pass for five yards. Gates showed his speed on the outside and his ability to find the hole and make cuts to elude would be tacklers. Gates carried 13 times for 65 yards for the day.
Secondary plays well
The veteran Cardinal corners played well as Josh Minkins broke up two passes and made several tackles and Laroni Gallishaw made a diving INT of a Stephon LeFors pass. Gallishaw also leveled some impressive hits, including one to running back Eric Shelton. Safeties Kerry Rhodes and Abe Brown also showed promise. Rhodes appears to be taking the role as the vocal leader of the Cardinal secondary and showed tremendous range to break up a pass near the goaline to prevent a touchdown. He also made an excellent open field tackle on Lionel Gates that prevented a certain touchdown. Brown had 2 sacks and played solid at his safety position.
Youngsters show promise
Several youngsters showed promise Saturday, particularly corner Gavin Smart, safety Abe Brown and linebacker John Cardoza. Smart, who reminds some longtime Cardinal football observers of Anthony Bridges, continues to show steady progress and appears to be learning quickly at his new position. Brown, mentioned above, registered 2 sacks and possesses excellent size and speed and demonstrates the ability to hit. Cardoza filled in admirably for starter Robert McCune and made a number of good tackles and always seemed to be around the ball.
Junior day for Cards
The Cardinal football program hosted several talented high school juniors for today's scrimmage. The players and their families, who paid their own way to make the trip, were treated to breakfast at the football complex, toured the Cardinal football facilities and talked to the members of the coaching staff before Saturday's scrimmage and were treated to a beautiful day of football in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Players visited from the football hotbed cities of Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Tampa as well as from the states of Michigan, Tennessee and Alabama.