Petrino grades Cards after first week

University of Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino grades his team's performance after the first week of spring practice.

With the first week of spring practice already behind us, Univerity of Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino provided a report card of sorts following Tuesday's cold and rainy practice.

As is typical of spring practice in Louisville, we've already seen a wide variety of weather conditions, and star running back/safety Michael Bush was lost for the spring when he broke a bone in his foot on the first day of drills.

One area both Petrino and fans were interested in heading into spring was the improvement of the defense. A unit that struggled late last season, Petrino's defense now has a new coordinator and philosophy.

"Our defense is starting to really run to the ball, which I'm happy about," Petrino said. "I think we're picking up the new scheme real well."

"We've got a long way to go," Petrino continued. "Defensively, I know that they have a lot of energy and excitement about the new [scheme]. We're really working on the principles of good defense. Tackling really well, running full speed to the ball, and getting off blocks. I think Robert McCune has made big strides as far as getting off the block and making the tackle."

Picked apart by Miami (OH) quarterback Ben Rothlisberger in the Mobile Bowl, Petrino says his secondary has made some positive strides already this spring.

"I think our corners have come along way from a year ago since we moved Antoine [Harris] over there as a receiver and William [Gay] was a true freshman," Petrino said. "And I think Antoine Sharp is getting better."

Scoring points has never been a problem for a Petrino coached team, and with several key performers returning from last year's explosive squad, this coming season should be much the same.

"Offensively we just have to keep our intensity and get better everyday," Petrino explained. "I think we have a very good offense. We put a lot of pressure on them to perform in practice everyday."

With returning starters Travis Leffew, Jason Spitz and Renardo Foster back, and the additions of Kurt Quarterman (6'5, 350) at guard and Will Rabatin at center, Petrino has been pleased with the play of his first team offensive line this spring.

"I like our offensive line," Petrino said. "I think they've done a really nice job but we've got to develop some depth. We've really been practicing alot with our two offensive line because we've got to have eight guys that we can rotate in their in case we have some injuries."

With the loss of tight ends Ronnie Ghent and Richard Owens, Petrino has some concerns about the position.

"I'm concerned about our tight end position," Petrino said. "Whenever you lose two seniors that makes you concerned. Wayne Riles is doing a nice job but behind that we've got a ways to go."

One unit that won't cause their head coach much concern are the receivers. Returners J.R. Russell, Broderick Clark, Tiger Jones and Joshua Tinch have all look good in practice, as have newcomers Montrell Jones and Harry Douglas.

"Receiver wise there has been a lot of competition and I think that's good," Petrino said. "They're really pushing each other for the spots."

Louisville returns to practice at 4:00 pm this Thursday.

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