Spring Practice: Early Storylines

The Cardinals begin spring practice under the direction of new head coach Bobby Petrino this afternoon in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Cardinal Authority takes a look at a few of the early storylines.

When the University of Louisville begins Spring Practice on Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m., it will usher in another Bobby Petrino era. The coach who directed the Cardinals to a 41-9 record during his previous run as head coach is back and preparing to guide the program into the more challenging ACC.

As the Cardinals take the field for the first time in 2014, a number of storylines will follow them and more will emerge. Here's a look at a few of the early storylines for this year's Cardinals.

QB Rises

The guy that helped lead Louisville to a 23-3 record over the past two seasons is busy preparing to hear his name in the first round of the NFL Draft, so an immediate area of attention for Petrino will filling the void left by Teddy Bridgewater.

Led by sophomore Will Gardner, the Cardinals return three quarterbacks and the position is up for the taking. Seeing action in seven games in 2013, Gardner (6'5, 226) is the only reserve to attempt a pass last season, completing 8 of 12 for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Lexington Catholic product Kyle Bolin spent last season as a redshirt adding weight to his frame. The former four-star prospect enters spring at 6-foot-2, 202-pounds and an opportunity to impress his new head coach and offensive coordinator.

Senior Brett Nelson (6'4, 220) will also get a look this spring and Penn State transfer Tyler Ferguson will provide added competition while sitting out this season due to transfer rules.

The Petrino Way

A head coaching change always brings a new approach and style of practice. When Petrino left Louisville for the NFL, one of the initial areas of interest was how his immediate replacement would conduct practice and the result was something that looked like a stroll in the park in search of the perfect shade tree.

Known for managing his team's two-hour practice sessions at a high-tempo, striving not to waste a minute, Petrino has redefined exactly what an up-tempo practice looks like. Petrino's attention to detail, on the practice field and elsewhere, is a key reason for his successes at U of L and elsewhere.

3-4 Install

Todd Grantham has had success running a 3-4 defense in the NFL and most recently as the defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia, so his Cardinals defense will be making the transition to the scheme this spring.

The Cardinals spring practice depth chart has the front line defense as Sheldon Rankins and B.J. Dubose on the ends with DeAngelo Brown at the nose tackle spot.

Grantham will be without linebacker Keith Brown, defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin and safety Terrence Ross this spring.

Step Up

Safety Gerod Holliman

The Cardinals return a strong nucleus of starters from last season's Russell Athletic Bowl winning team. Seven who registered a start on offense are back, with just four returning on the defensive side.

In addition to the quarterback spot, eyes will be watching to see who else steps up this spring to become the leading contenders for their spot this fall.

The loss of Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith leaves both safety spots open and it is an area to watch. Competition should be impressive among Gerod Holliman, Chucky Williams, Jermaine Reve and Richard Benjamin.

Newcomers Impact

Petrino welcomes a trio of mid-year transfers that will participate in spring practice. Wide receiver Cameron Polk and running back L.J. Scott, both freshmen and potential redshirt candidates, will have an chance to impress this spring.

Junior college transfer Trevon Young, a four-star linebacker prospect, has the best chance to make an immediate impact. The 6-foot-4, 233-pound junior enters spring as the first string weakside linebacker.


Since his hiring, Petrino has continually reached out to the Cardinals fan base. He reinstalled the National Signing Day event and has opened the gates at practice for all to enter.

Locked out of most practices during recent years, coupled with the excitement of Petrino's return and the program's move to the ACC, turn out is expected to be high throughout spring.

Possibly in anticipation of a large crowd on opening day, the team's first practice will be held inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

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