Spring Notebook: Day 3

Comments from U of L assistants Mike Cassity, Jeff Brohm, plus other news and notes from Saturday morning's practice inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium...

Mike Cassity, the Cardinals co-defensive coordinator and safties coach, said on Saturday that the focus for the first three days of practice has been about the team's overall enthusiasm for returning to the field for the first time since the Gator Bowl.

"What we're looking for is effort, enthusiasm, and carry over from last fall, the Gator Bowl and the first two days of practice," Cassity said. "We're not where we want to be right now execution-wise, but that's why we're practicing."

The evaluation process will begin in full on Sunday morning when the Cardinals begin tackling for the first time this spring.

"The other thing we're looking for is the tempo and the fundamentals – getting off blocks, making tackles," Cassity added. "Obviously today there was no live tackling, so we'll assess (tackling) tomorrow."

SAM Linebacker
Quite the competition is building at the strong side linebacker position between Malik Jackson and Terrance Butler. The two juniors have gained valuable experience over the course of the past seasons, with each appearing in 23 games.

With Butler making the transition from safety, Jackson said that while he's going to do everything that he can to earn the starting role, that he's also going to help Butler and others to continue to improve.

"You have to stay one step ahead of the guy trying to get your spot, but at the same time you have to help them out so they get better," said Jackson, who totaled 30 tackles last fall as a reserve.

For Butler, the competition is helping him make the transition from the secondary quickly.

"It's very competitive, but the biggest thing for me is learning right now," he said. "The biggest thing for me is to get the mental reps when I'm not in and when I am in, to know exactly where I'm supposed to be and what's going on out on the field."

On Saturday, Jackson and Butler both made highlight plays. Jackson displayed his vertical when knocking down a strike from Hunter Cantwell, while Butler recorded an interception on a great read moments later.

Brian Brohm Update
Quaterback Brian Brohm continued to make strides on Saturday. The junior quarterback continues to amaze everyone by his quick recovery and has been participating in route and skelly drills, but has stayed away from any side to side movement. However, near the end of Saturday morning's practice Brohm spent a few minutes with the trainers working on changing directions.

"He's doing well and getting to participate in quite a bit of practice and he's getting better at that, but at the same time he's getting his knee better and by summer be close to 100%" said U of L QB coach Jeff Brohm. "Then he can start throwing on the run and doing the full gamut of activity."

High Praise
Offensive lineman Marcel Benson continues to impress all on-looker's. On Saturday, the 6-foot-6, 318-pound left tackle drew praise from one of the program's greats. Gil Sturzel, who was the team captain for the 1957 Sun Bowl Champions and never misses a Cardinal practice, said that the junior college transfer might just be the best lineman currently on the roster.

Quick Hits

CB Deon Palmer
  • Chris Vaughn continues to improve. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound receiver received a few extra pointers from receivers coach Paul Petrino during unit drills on Saturday morning.
  • Punters Todd Flannery and Gabe Mullane continued to kick the ball well on Saturday.
  • Cornerback Deon Palmer is making a push for playing time in the Cardinals secondary. The 6-foot, 203-pound cornerback performed well during the first day in pads.
  • Redshirt Darius Mann received quite a bit of reps on Saturday and seemed to have a strong understanding of where to lineup and played the ball well.
  • First team receivers on Saturday were Harry Douglas, Scott Long and Jimmy Riley, with Pat Carter joining them for four-receiver sets.
  • Senior corner Gavin Smart also performed well, providing great coverage during route drills and skelly.
  • Visitors
    Louisville signee Aundre Henderson attended his third consecutive practice. Henderson spent time watching the Saturday's practice will current and future teammate Javeare White, who will join the team this fall as a walk-on.

    Fellow walk-on Caleb Newton was also on hand Saturday. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound quarterback from South Oldham (Ky.) High School, who also attended Thursday's practice, spent much of his time shadowing quarterback coach Jeff Brohm.

    As we reported on Friday, Bell County tight end Brent Slusher – wearing a U of L ball cap - took in the Cardinals practice on Saturday morning.

    Keep up with all the latest news and developments from U of L's spring practice with the ITV Spring Practice Guide.

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