Cardinal cornerbacks play improving

University of Louisville cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr., talks about the progress of the youth-filled unit...

The University of Louisville's group of cornerbacks received their share of criticism during last fall's 9-3 run through the '05 schedule. However, while there were a number of big plays given up, there was also plenty of signs of improvement from the youthful unit. All four starters return from last year's group that helped the Cardinal defense finish among the top 25 in the nation, as well as top 50 against the pass.

As the Cardinals prepare to conduct their second scrimmage of the spring season – Sunday at noon – cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr., is looking for improved play from the first time out.

"You never make excuses," he said. "It doesn't matter if they are young or old, they have to play. Nobody wants to hear excuses. Hopefully with that year of experience we will perform better this year. That's what we're looking for from these guys now."

Midway through the 2005 season, a shake-up of occurred when starter William Gay was benched in favor of Bobby Buchanan and Travis Norton. The move provided valuable experience to the two newcomers, but also served as a wake up call to the senior, who entered spring displaying the type of leadership and play that is expected of the two-year starter.

"I liked the leadership that William showed and the toughness that he played with," said Whitt, following last Sunday's scrimmage. "As a defense I don't think we flew around and hit like we are supposed to do. That's something that I was actually disappointed in – the way that we didn't come off and hit like we were supposed to. It was the first scrimmage and in the next one we will be more physical or we're going to make some changes. It's that simple."

If changes to the first team, which currently lists Gay, along with sophomore Rod Council as the starters, is made, it would likely be in favor of sophomore Travis Norton or redshirt freshman Marcus Folmar.

Joe Whitt Jr instructs
Marcus Folmar & Travis Norton
"I am really pleased with him," Whitt said of Folmar. "He's a different kid this year. He's starting to understand what we are asking him to do. He played receiver when he first got here and he's made the transition. Hopefully he can keep progressing and not take a step back. We're pleased with what he has done so far."

The improved play of Folmar and Norton is pushing Buchanan, who is being held out of contact drills while recovering from off season shoulder surgery.

"With Travis and Marcus playing better I told Bobby, "you better get healthy"," said Whitt. "Those guys are putting a lot of pressure on him. Travis Norton has been doing a lot of good things. He's a rangy kid that can make a lot of plays and he's made them this spring. We're going to play the guys that are out there, so he better get healthy."

The Cardinals return to practice on Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.. On Saturday, the team will scrimmage inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium at noon.

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