Louisville's Saturday two-hour session was split in half, with the first hour run as a regular practice, with the a 70-play scrimmage filling up the majority of the remaining 60 minutes.
Despite knowing that a scrimmage was being held, the players worked the first hour with the energy of routine practice. The practice portion also allowed the coaches to get another look at a few players, potentially determining an increase in reps with the first team during the scrimmage.
The scrimmage was quick-paced and effective. Both sides of the ball displayed solid play, but have plenty of growth remaining. The offense displayed strengths at wide receiver and running back, with the linebackers and front line having strong outings for the defensive side of the ball.
After four days of work, the Cardinals have proven to be a team that is eager to learn. They arrive at practices full of energy and push themselves to meet the demanding tempo and push for perfection.
Some were surprised when DeVante Parker announced that he'd return to U of L instead of heading early to the NFL, but his improving play could pay dividends in him becoming an eventual first round selection next year.
Parker, who's 28 career touchdowns is five shy of tying the school record, has continued to a threat to stretch the field, using his 6-foot-3, 208-pound frame and exceptional leaping ability to his advantage. This spring, as displayed during the scrimmage, he is becoming even better fighting off tackles and breaking free for extra yardage.
Parker caught three touchdowns from first team quarterback Will Gardner during the scrimmage.
"There ain't a better guy to throw to," Gardner said afterward. "Best receiver in the country.
Petrino called Parker a "special talent" following the scrimmage, claiming that he's most impressed by, "how quickly he can get started and run with the ball after the catch."
While heaping praise of the certain All-American, Petrino also added that with all, he can get even better.
"He can get a lot better on his initial get-off, his route running, but he works hard," Petrino explained. "I'm not saying doesn't work hard, but he can improve and get better."
The Cardinals had an excellent group of linebackers last season and making the switch to the 3-4 will put even more pressure on the group in 2014. Despite the loss of a trio of contributors from last season, including All-Conference performer Preston Brown, the Cardinals have a talented group that has played well during the first few days of practice.
James Burgess has been consistently solid. Nick Dawson-Brents has made some impressive plays, including a pair of interceptions. Lyn Clark, a redshirt freshman, and junior college transfer Trevon Young are poised be become contributors.
Sophomore Keith Kelsey, who led all newcomers with 24 total tackles last season, is playing well both against the run and pass. He's effective in tracking down the ball and is often visitor to the offensive backfield.
Playing in the middle, Kelsey knows that he has a lot of responsibility on the field.
"I got to know where everybody is going on defense," he said. "I just can't do my job. I have to know what the guy in front of me and behind me is doing."
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Freshman running back L.J. Scott has created a lot of buzz among those attending the Cardinals spring practice. Because of injuries limiting the contributions of Corvin Lamb and Michael Dyer, the 6-foot, 228-pound rookie has taken advantage of additional snaps.
He runs with power and appears to be an asset in the passing game.
"He's right in the mix," Petrino said. "We don't have many backs right now, but he's right in the mix."
For more on Petrino, along with offensive coordinator Garrick McGee's thoughts on Scott, click here.
"He's got good size and then he came out and ran a real good 40, which I was excited about, so that's a real good combination."
**Walk-on wide receiver Chris Miele has made a few plays when he's had the opportunity. Playing behind a collection of talented receivers, the 6-foot-2, 182-pound product of Louisville DuPont Manual provides additional competition for one of the nation's best receiver groups.
**Louisville will return for session 5 of spring practice on Tuesday at 4:00p.m.