Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino directed his team through its second scrimmage of the spring season on Saturday morning. Working inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, the team ran 160 plays through three full quarters of play and left a positive impression on their progress as it approches the final week of spring.
"I like what I saw," Petrino said. "I thought we came out and had a lot of energy. We played fast. We certainly improved from last week's scrimmage on both sides of the ball."
Progress in the trenches has been a focus this spring and both are displaying signs of improvement. The defensive front has been a strong area for the highly-rated U of L defense for a number of seasons and the anticipation is that this year's group will continue that trend. Led by senior Drew Bailey, Petrino likes the progress of the group.
"I think our defensive line had a really good week of practice," he said. "Drew Bailey is doing a really good job of leading that group and rushing the passer."
The offensive line, which struggled down the stretch last fall, has seen players working at multiple spots and a healthy competition at center throughout spring.
"I thought our o-line had a good week and improved," he said. "I think we're getting closer to knowing where to play guys at and what the positions are going to be."
At center, a trio of players are competing for the starting spot. Redshirt freshman Robbie Bell and sophomore Tyler Haycraft have worked reps at both center and guard, with sophomore Nathan Scheler also competing hard for the center spot.
"It's coming along well," he said. "They've all made improvements.
"I think its been a great competition. I think Robbie gives us a little more punch in the run game - he's quicker and a little more powerful. He really needs to understand protections more and defensive movement."
Petrino added that none of the three has taken the lead on the eventual first-team spot.
"We'll continue to give them all the opportunity," he said. "We're not ready to make any decisions."
Entering spring practice, Petrino also wanted to his Heisman trophy-winning quarterback make improvements to his overall game, with the ability to work from under center and going to his progressions among the areas of focus.
"I thought he had a really good week, too," Petrino said of junior Lamar Jackson. "That really was the emphasis. Seeing the safeties, understanding the coverage and going through your progression - one, two, three - and understanding what is going on. I thought he had his best week in really focusing and trying to understand the protections and what the defense is doing."
The Cardinals have been bit by the injury bug this spring, most notably in the running game. While preferring not to comment on the injuries, Petrino pointed out that Reggie Bonnafon received the majority of the work at running back on Saturday.
Louisville will close spring practice next Saturday afternoon with its annual Red-White Spring game. Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm and admission is free.