Day 13 News and Notes
We're getting near the end of spring drills and it's clear the team has made excellent progress over the past few weeks. The offense continues to show promise and defense is flying around to the ball. With that in mind, here are some news and notes from Tuesday's practice.
Backup corners play well
Second team corner J.T. Haskins continues to play well this spring. The junior from Lexington Bryan Station had two picks today and made an athletic, diving attempt to break up a deep pass. Redshirt freshman Gavin Smart continues to make a positive impression and certainly appears to be a star of the future in the UofL secondary. Smart has the speed to cover and showed again today he can make plays, covering well and breaking up a pass.
Turf coming in stadium
The Athletic Association approved funding for installation of an artificial turf in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium today. The new turf will be installed in the stadium this June at a cost of $800,000 and will be ready for the Cards home opener next season. Coach Petrino has advocated the switch from natural grass to artificial turf since his arrival in December. The reason? Speed, speed, and more speed. Petrino believes the new turf is taylor made for his style of play which is heavily influenced by speedy athletes on each side of the ball.
Kamer makes case to be #1 fullback
D.J. Kamer has emerged this spring in the offensive back field and is making a strong case to become the starting full back in the fall. Kamer, though undersized, has the heart and toughness to play the position. He shown all spring long he can catch the ball out of the back field and made a nice block to pick up a blitzing Brandon Johnson during practice on Tuesday.
Sophomores get to the quarterback
Sophomores Brandon Johnson and Elvis Dumervil will get to the quarterback. Johnson, playing outside linebacker, has shown tremendous speed and quickness off the snap to get in the back field all spring. On one play today he was seemingly draped on the quarterback before the ball was snapped. Dumervil is a bit undersized at defensive end but his four sacks in Saturday's scrimmage and after a couple more today during practice is becoming quite evident he's one opposing coordinators will have to plan for.
J.R. Russell continues solid play
Russell seems like a totally different player this spring. He's been consistent all spring catching the ball, doesn't mind making tough catches over the middle and makes plays after the catch. Today he showed incredible balance after making a catch near the sideline, bouncing off a tackle, tippietoeing the sideline and spinning back inbounds to gain additional yards up the sideline. Russell looks like he's ready for a banner season during the fall.
Smith kicking field goals well, punting inconsistent
Place kicker Nate Smith was kicking it well today. Although aided by a strong wind, Smith nailed several 40 plus yard field goals and showed incredible range by banging in two in a row from 50. Punter Wade Tylacka certainly has a strong leg. However, he's been plaqued by inconsistency all spring. Case in point..today he boomed a few 40 plus yard punts in a row but followed them with several end over end punts that didn't have much hang time or distance.