The University of Louisville will begin work on the 2015 season on Tuesday afternoon with the start of spring practice. Head coach Bobby Petrino welcomes back 41 letterwinners from 2014, including six starters on offense and four on defense.
“I'm excited to get started tomorrow,” Petrino said during his spring preview press conference on Monday afternoon. “I've certainly been looking forward to this.”
The Cardinals will conduct a total of 15 practices, capping it off with the annual Red-White spring game on April 17.
Here's a quick notebook to help you get prepped for what to expect on the practice fields this spring:
Competition is always present in spring practice. It's when many positions can be won or lost. This spring, with so many positions opening up due to graduation and early departures to the NFL, the competition will be high across the field during the month of spring work.
“It's a new team and we have a lot of new working parts, so it'll be fun to see how it all goes together,” Petrino said. “Who wins competitions for positions.”
“Spring football is about, number one, getting our players better at their craft and working hard on their technique, their fundamentals and working hard at becoming experts at what they do. It's also about the depth chart and the competition for spots. Moving up or moving down, keeping your spot or taking somebody else's and I think this is really where, in spring ball, where you get a look at different guys at different positions and the different things that they do well, so that will be exciting for us.”
“There's a lot,” said Petrino.
New Look Receiving Corp
With the exception of James Quick, the Cardinals stable of receivers will have a completely new look this season. The new look receiving corp includes a pair of transfers joining Quick as the first team receivers in former Texas A&M receiver Ja'Quay Williams and UAB transfer Jamari Staples.
In addition to the new faces, a couple position adjustments add to the transforming group. Quick will receive more opportunity to work inside this season, an spot he performed well in during five receivers sets last fall, while Charles Standberry, who played tight end as a true freshman, will suit up with the receivers.
“It's a good looking group,” said Petrino. “If you look overall, the size and speed, we're going to look a lot different out there just because we are a lot bigger.”
A short list of players will not participate during spring practice as they continue to recover from injuries.
Keith Brown Moving
Junior linebacker Keith Brown spent his first three seasons as an inside linebacker, but due to the experienced depth at the position, the former freshman All-American will move to the outside this spring.
“It'll be a little new to him, but he's a very good football player,” said Petrino.
Following a rookie season that saw him make five starts and finish as one of the team's top tacklers, Brown missed his sophomore season due to a knee injury, before returning last season as a reserve.
Five to Watch
The next four weeks of spring practice will prove to be exciting to watch, as players push for potential starting roles and test out new positions. Here's five of many to keep an eye on as practice begins.
Chucky Williams: Petrino said that he's “excited to see” a bulkier and more experienced Williams in the secondary. The sophomore is listed as the first team free safety on the spring depth chart.
Cornelius Sturghill: The move from wide receiver to cornerback sounds like a great move. He proved to be one of the fastest and strongest skill players during the testing period.
Josh Harvey-Clemons: The former Georgia safety is an impact player and will be used in multiple ways to best utilize his 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame.
Tyler Ferguson: Junior quarterback is expected to make a strong push for a position that won't be decided until fall camp, and the return of Will Gardner.
Cole Hikutini: Junior college tight end transfer has drawn praise since inking with the Cardinals in February. The 6-foot-5, 242-pounder has drawn comparisons to former U of L tight end Gary Barnidge.