U of L football: Practice notebook

University of Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino met with the media on Monday as his team reported to camp. The Cardinals will begin fall practice on Tuesday morning. Here are a few notebook items heading into camp:

CARDINALS WELCOME NEWCOMERS

While most of the newcomers have been on campus and enrolled in summer school, the University of Louisville football team is welcoming a few new faces this week.

Two defensive players who are expected to help this year - defensive end Pio Vatuvei and safety James Sample - have arrived on campus and will be in uniform on Tuesday. Quarterback transfer Tyler Bruggman will be practicing but must sit out this season after coming from Washington State.

"They are behind," Petrino said. "But they just have to spend extra time in the playbooks, spend extra time learning the system and in meetings with their coaches.

"They're going to have to be quick learners. But they are both experienced and have been through it before. Hopefully, they will be quick learners and will be able to help us."

Petrino said Vatuvei and Sample are guys who the defensive staff believes can come in and help the Cardinals this season.

"Yeah, we expect them to help us," he said. "As the season goes on and they continue to get better, we expect they will help us."

A three-star prospect, Vatuvei attended Patterson (Calif.) High School and originally committed to USC. He signed with Washington and played in nine games as a freshman, recording seven tackles as a true freshman. He totaled a pair of tackles against nationally ranked LSU and was credited with a career-high three stops in a win over Portland State.

After one season at Washington, Vatuvei spent a season at the College of San Mateo. He had 35 tackles, including 6.5 sacks, in 11 games.

Sample played at Washington in two games as a true freshman in 2011, but suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and received a medical redshirt. He appeared in just three games in 2012 before leaving the program.

Sample spent last season at American River Junior College in California.

FLOYD READY TO MAKE THE SWITCH

Petrino said Terrel Floyd is ready to make the switch to free safety and nickel back after playing corner for the Cardinals in the past.

Floyd is needed at safety to try and help secure more depth for the defense. U of L has to replace Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith at safety and it's one of the positions on the team lacking the most in depth heading into camp.

"He's a really good corner," Petrino said. "It's always hard to move a guy who has been a starter and has done a great job there. But we really feel like he's a guy that will give us some leadership in the backend.

"You have (Charles) Gaines on the corner and Floyd in the backend, I think that will really help solidify our defense back there."

Petrino said no other player had players had changed position after spring ball.

QB COMPETITION BEHIND GARDNER

Petrino said there are quite a few positions battles he's excited to see play out.

But one he mentioned several times was the backup spot behind Will Gardner at quarterback. Gardner won the battle in the spring and is expected to be the starter.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the competition behind Will and Reggie Bonnafon coming in as a true freshman," he said. "I want to see how much he will compete for the job and that will be fun to see how that works out."

Bonnafon is a true from Trinity High School only played one year of varsity quarterback. He was a wide receiver on varsity as a junior.

"He's had a great summer," Petrino said. "He's an amazing athlete when you look at his measureables, like he has a 36 and a half inch vertical. He's strong and he's smart. Now, we just want to see how he gets into it."

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Petrino said he will have open practice all week, including both practices.

The team will be split into newcomers - and some select veterans who have conflicts with class schedule - in the morning at 8:50 a.m.

The remainder of the team will go at 4:20 and it will be that way Tuesday through Friday.

"We have some guys with class conflicts because we're still dealing with summer classes," he said. "But I like doing it this way because it's a great evaluation for the young guys.

"We just started doing it a few years back and you really get to spend four days working on technique and fundamentals and they get a lot more reps than just standing and watching.

CARDS ARE HEALTHY HEADING INTO CAMP

Petrino said the only player who is set to miss fall camp is safety Jermaine Reve, who had surgery on a torn knee ligament in the spring.

Reve is "well ahead of schedule," according to Petrino but he will still likely miss the entire season for the Cardinals.

Defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin, linebacker Keith Brown, running backs Brandon Radcliff and Corvin Lamb and several others who missed spring ball because of injuries are back.

"We're pretty healthy going in," he said. "We feel like we are as healthy as we have been."

LEADERSHIP HAS BEEN THE KEY

Petrino said like with any coaching change he had to make sure the veteran players helped make the transition as easy as possible.

He said the leadership has been "so good," that it's been a seamless transition.

"I have been very pleased with how easy they made the transition," Petrino said. ". . . I let them know things were going to be different. We have to do things the way we know how. Coach Strong did a great job but obviously our styles are different and what we know is different.

"The quicker we get over the fact that there's a change and just adapt to it, then the better chance we have to be a championship team. I'll tell you what I have been very impressed with out attitudes. I think the leadership has been the key for us."


Cardinal Authority Top Stories