Spring practice for the University of Louisville is underway, as the Cardinals conducted their first two hour session on Tuesday afternoon on the program's outdoor practice fields.
As is the case in the River City, the weather during the spring months can change quickly and that was the case as recent warmer temperatures gave way to a chilly afternoon in mid-40's with a biting wind. Despite the comforts of the Trager Indoor facility at his disposal, head coach Bobby Petrino anticipates holding most practices this spring out of doors.
The quarterback position on the depth chart lists Reggie Bonnafon, Kyle Bolin and Tyler Ferguson as all equals, yet on the first day of practice it was Bonnafon that received the majority of the snaps with the first team. Bolin split time between the first and second group, while Ferguson primarily worked with the second team.
Following practice, Petrino said not to read much into the opening day rotation.
"They are all going to get chances to go with the one's," Petrino explained. "They know that they are going to compete for it, so they'll all get reps with the one's.
Being on spring break the week prior to the start of practice created a little rust and caused timing with receivers to be slightly off on day one. Following practice Petrino commented on the performance of each:
"I thought he made a couple bad decisions," said Petrino. "He got an interception on one and his accuracy wasn't as good as it needs to be, but he did a lot of good things, too. We're going to continue to look at the good things and emphasize the good things and then get him to work on becoming a better passer. He knows that and it's one of our goals going into spring ball."
"He's got a big arm. He can really wing it around. I was happy that he was working hard at making decisions, seeing the defense and not just reacting to things and throwing the ball. He can really throw, he's got a big arm, but he needs to learn the offense."
"I thought Kyle did a good job. I think his timing may be a little bit ahead of the other two as far as making the decision and getting the ball out of his hand. He made some good accurate throws. He had a couple bad decisions where he wasn't keying the free safety and knowing where to go with the ball, but I was happy with his timing and accuracy."
Running Back Competition
The running back room is going through a transition of its own. While the group lost a pair of backs, it has gained two in junior college transfer Jeremy Smith and Northwestern transfer Malin Jones. Brandon Radcliff, U of L's top rusher a year ago, returns, as does sophomore L.J. Scott.
Following practice, Radcliff discussed the competition and drive of the reloading stable of running backs with Cardinal Authority.
Kelsey Welcomes Leadership
After starting all 13 games as a sophomore and finished second on the team in tackles, linebacker Keith Kelsey will be counted on to be one of the team's leaders in 2015. It's a role that the Gainesville, Fla., native welcomes.
"I know I'm an upperclassman now, so I have to be more vocal out there on the field and tell guys to get on my back, and let's ride."
Kelsey also finished six sacks, third best on the team, in 2014.
Notes from the field
- Sophomore safety Chucky Williams opens spring as a first team safety and he played the spot well on Tuesday. He recorded a pair of interceptions, including a diving grab off a tipped ball.
- Linebacker James Burgess is sporting a cast on his hand, which will limit his time on the field this spring. However, that didn't stop him from snagging an interception on day one. He finished third on the team with 3 interceptions last fall and has six career picks.
- Freshman cornerback Jaire Alexander also had an interception.
- Junior college tight end transfer Cole Hikutini certainly looked the part of a future key contributor. He runs routes well and catches the ball very well.
- Wide receivers Dontez Byrd and Jamari Staples both had impressive catches on deep routes in tight coverage.
- A handful of former Cardinals were on hand to watch, including Jamon Brown, Gerald Christian and Charles Gaines.
- Manual defensive tackle Derek Dorsey, a U of L commitment, also took in the Cardinals practice.
Sights & Sounds
Here's a few sights and sounds from day one of spring practice: