Freshmen cornerbacks show promise

Louisville is counting on several freshmen to man both corner spots this season, and assistant Larry Slade told that Charles Gaines, Andrew Johnson and Terrell Floyd have made solid practice during camp and shown considerable potential.

It's no secret the cornerback spot is a major concern for Louisville coach Charlie Strong.

The Cardinals lost both starting corners from last year's team, including NFL Draft pick Johnny Patrick, who led the team in interceptions, and are counting on a bevy of freshmen, redshirt and true, to pick up the slack this season.

Anthony Conner, a senior who missed last season with a knee injury and Jordan Paschal, a promising redshirt freshman, began camp as the starting corners. Paschal, though, is currently out with an injury, which has opened the door for true freshmen Andrew Johnson, Charles Gaines and Terrell Floyd.

"Right now Jordan is out and he's not practicing," Slade said after practice Friday morning. "There really aren't any starters. We're still working that out. Those young freshmen are working…they're very talented."

Slade said he's been pleased with the work ethic displayed by Johnson, Gaines and Floyd, all three highly-rated prospects from the state of Florida.

"They've come a long ways," Slade said. "They're learning how to practice and that's a big thing -- learning how to play full speed and learning to play our kind of defense, which is aggressive defense where we run to the football. They're progressing in that regard."

Floyd, perhaps the least heralded of the trio, drew praise from Slade, who also said good things about redshirt freshman Stephon Robinson, a converted wide receiver.

"He's doing well," Slade said of Floyd. "Those guys are all talented, and you can throw Stephon Robinson into that group. We just have to get them experience. They're going to play a lot of football around here."

Slade expects all three true freshmen to play this season. "I do expect those guys to play," Slade said.

Though Slade praised senior cornerback Anthony Conner, who missed last season with an ACL injury, for his character and work ethic, it sounds like his status as a starter remains in question.

"We'll see where that takes him," Slade said.

Strong expressed concern about the cornerback spot last week during Media Day, and worried aloud about opposing offenses throwing the ball over their inexperienced corners heads. Slade, though, said that isn't happening in practice.

"They're improving," Slade said. "I started three freshmen at Tennessee one year. The first two or three games were a learning experience. But when we got to the SEC championship game they were ready to go. It takes time, but the great part about it is we have talent."

One of the players on that Tennessee team was Eric Berry, who now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs in the National Football League. Are Louisville's freshmen comparable to Slade's freshmen group during his days with the Vols?

"I think these guys are very talented and skilled guys," Slade said.

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