Michael McCammon

Cardinal Authority Senior Writer Michael McCammon takes a look at a few questions lingering as Louisville begins fall camp

Cardinal Authority Senior Writer Michael McCammon takes a look at a few questions lingering as Louisville begins fall camp

Here's a few questions for us outsiders to ponder as the University of Louisville progresses through camp towards the team's season-opener against Charlotte on Sept. 1.

1.  How much of an 'overall' quarterback has Lamar Jackson become during the off-season? 

There has been much discussion and speculation, with a heavy dose of expectation, about how the Cardinals quarterback will perform in year two.  Petrino has dubbed the sophomore as the face of the program and who could disagree following his play in the team's final two outings of 2015.  Making just his fifth start of the season, Jackson came off the bench to account for 316 yards and three touchdowns in U of L's 14 point win over rival Kentucky.  He was named Most Valuable Player following a record-setting performance that saw him amass 453 total yards and four touchdowns.

Jackson spent the off-season studying the offense and working with the receivers with the determination of becoming equally as dangerous with his arm as he is his legs.

"We want him to be an overall quarterback," Bobby Petrino said during his Tuesday press conference.  "We want him to throw the ball, go through his progressions. He needs to keep his vision and get the ball down field a little more this year.  He has been great about improving and getting better on a daily basis.  He has been up here watching video and becoming a better overall quarterback."

2.  Who will become the first team kicker and punter?

There aren't many vacancies for first team positions on this U of L roster, but two of them reside on special teams. 

"I'm not sure who our kicker will be right now," Petrino said.  "It'll be a good competition between Evan O'Hara and Blanton Creque."

Anthony George and newcomer Andrew Laszewski will also compete for the kicking responsibilities.

It will primarily be a two-man competition for punting duties with Mason King and freshman Austin Johnson vying for the spot.

"I thought Mason had a very good spring," Petrino said, who added that the redshirt freshman needs to become more "consistent."

The hope is that separation in the competition will form quickly at camp.

"Those two positions will be something that we truly watch and have great competition every single day to see how we come out," Petrino said, saying that "the sooner they can separate themselves from each other the better off it is."

3.  What are the expectations with the running game?

When it comes to the Cardinals ground game, Petrino is aiming for better consistency in all aspects of the position.  He's counting on the running backs to not only provide key yardage on the ground this season, but also in the passing game.

"Consistency is the first word that comes to my mind and when I say that I'm talking about pass protection, catching the ball.  All three of them can really run with the football and they've improved and gotten better doing that, but we need to be more consistent with our pass protection and where we need to be on our routes."

4.  Who will fill the void along the defensive front?

Sheldon Rankins and Pio Vatuvei have departed, so defensive tackle DeAngelo Brown will be joined by a new faces on the first team this fall.

Brown said that "it’s going to be different” without Rankins alongside him, but he's been impressed by those climbing the depth chart.

“Drew Bailey and Johnny Richardson, they can play," he said.  "They’ve just got to continue to learn and continue to grow. I feel like they’ll be ready come Sept. 1.”

Redshirt freshman G.G. Robinson and junior college transfer Chris Williams will push for reps from the outset.

Brown, who was a preseason All-ACC selection, will have junior Kyle Shortridge as backup.  True freshman Kordell Slater has been on campus since January and participated in spring drills, so he'll also have an opportunity, 

5.  Newcomers

Clearly day one of practice, nor the first week, will determine which newcomers on the roster will redshirt or not, but the first few days will provide a nice barometer of what the chances may be.

Despite the pending decision on redshirts, the first fall camp provides a unique time to see how well prepared the newcomers are to the speed and demands of the college game.  It takes not just talent, but a level of maturity to be able to compete immediately out of high school.  Who will make the transition the smoothest?  Stay tuned.


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