Having lost four-time C-USA First Team selection Ronnie Ghent, and his reliable backup Richard Owens to graduation following the 2003 season, tight end certainly was an area for concern. When Thomas Boyce and Wayne Riles, two members of Petrino's first recruiting class at U of L, left the team prior to the season, the situation at tight end grew even more concerning.
Enter Adam McCauley, a converted full-back who joined the U of L program in 2000 as a walk-on from Waggener High School in Louisville. McCauley, making the first start of his career and playing tight end for the first time, caught one pass for 16-yards Sunday against Kentucky.
"Adam McCauley played fairly well for us but he didn't play as well as he can," Petrino said. "He needs to improve on some things technically."
Providing depth behind McCauley against Kentucky were two true freshmen, 6'6, 220-pound Gary Barnidge and 6'7, 242-pound Breno Giacomini. Barnidge, from Middleburg, Florida and Giacomini, from Malden, Massachusetts, were two of only four true freshmen to see action against Kentucky, joining quarterback Brian Brohm and safety Terrance Butler.
"Gary Barnidge came in as our second tight end [against Kentucky]," Petrino said. "And he's going to be a great player."
"He's very competitive, very tough and he actually played a lot better than I thought he would," continued Petrino. "You're going to see good things happen with him."
And while Petrino seemed fairly pleased with the play of his tight ends in the opener, he's hoping that Giacomini and Scott Kuhn, a 6'5, 245-pound true freshman from Burlington, Kentucky develop quickly during the first month of the season and become contributors sooner rather than later.
"We need to get the other two youngsters cranked up and going here in the next three or four weeks," Petrino said of Kuhn and Giacomini.
"I think Breno can really help us in the run game," Petrino continued. "And Scott Kuhn may end up being the best of all of them because he can catch the football well, runs great routes and has the size to block. He's just a little hesitant right now. I think when he starts playing at the right speed he'll get more reps."