The first day of fall camp is in the books for the University of Louisville.
Head coach Bobby Petrino held two sessions on Tuesday, and will follow the same format throughout the week, with primarily newcomers practicing in the morning and the veterans taking the fields in the afternoon.
While the team worked in shorts, jerseys and helmets, Petrino smiled as he spoke his team's performance on opening day.
”Overall it was a fun day,” Petrino said following the second session. “We started out this morning with predominately newcomers, but we mixed some guys in there because of class or having enough depth to get reps in, I thought they did a good job. It was fun to watch the new guys run around. I like our recruiting class.”
The purpose of the separate practice sessions is to allow the coaches more hands on time with individual players, along with added reps for each.
”It was fun to work with those guys,” he said. “That's why I really split the practices, so we can work individually enough with the new freshmen. I think we got a lot out of it.”
The veterans, who worked in front of a few hundred fans in the late afternoon, worked with energy and saw some individual performances stand out. The timing in the passing game was off and a rebuilding secondary took advantage.
“We came out this afternoon and we didn't do everything right, but I think we're a better technical team than we were in spring ball. I think the summer access and agilities and the work that you are able to do in the summer has helped us in a lot of aspects there. Our guys got tired and they need to practice hard when they get tired. That's the thing when you split practices they have to take more reps, so I think we got a little fatigued, but we got to fight through it.”
First string quarterback Will Gardner was dominant during the late stages of spring practice and was nearly flawless in the spring game, but the sophomore struggled on day one. While he had a number of good throws, he also had a high number of under thrown passes and was intercepted three times.
”Will showed a lot of good things, but he wasn't as consistent and accurate as he was at the end of spring ball. I think offensively, our timing is a little bit off right now, and our throwing and catching, but we'll get there. We just got to keep working.”
Petrino was pleased with the performance of true freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon during the morning period. The four-star Louisville Trinity product has added noticeble weight and looked comfortable in the pocket.
”I thought Reggie did a nice job this morning,” Petrino said. “Throwing the football, taking charge, so that was fun to see.”
The defense shined during the second practice. Lorenzo Mauldin, who sat out spring practice with an injury drew praise from Petrino.
”It was fun to see Mauldin out there, coming off the edge,” Petrino said. “Man, he's good. He can really rush the passer. He uses his hands, he's smart, he knows the sets by the tackles and tight ends. I kind of watched him a little more than I would normally watch a rush end during practice, but it was fun, I enjoyed watching him.”
Petrino was also pleased from what he saw from the safeties vying for the open spots in the secondary.
”I think Holliman has done an excellent job in the off season,” Petrino said. “He's much bigger, faster, stronger. He was a little insecure and unsure of himself in spring ball, but today out there, he's seeing things, and breaking, and doing a good job. [Terrell Floyd] is going to be a good player. He's exactly what you want there. He's smart, fast and has great ball skills. I thought Sample looked good this morning physically, with his quickness and size.”
The Cardinals will return to the practice fields on Wednesday morning at 8:50 a.m. The veterans will practice at 4:20 p.m.
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