Practice Report: Kolby Smith returns

This morning's notebook includes comments from University of Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino about the progress of his team heading into today's scrimmage, the status of senior running back Kolby Smith and much more...

Day 11 of the 15 days of spring practice is now in the books and it marked an end to a week of learning the new schemes for a second time and while there are signs of improvement daily, there is still plenty room to grow.

"We're never where we want to be," said U of L head coach Bobby Petrino following Friday's practice. "You always want to get better and improve. Our players have been working hard. This week was good to us because we started over on our installation and went back and re-taught everything, so now you really start seeing improvement."

That improvement will be on display Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. when the Cardinals conduct their third scrimmage this spring.

"It would be nice to have it be nice and competitive on both sides of the ball," Petrino said of the scrimmage. "The hardest part about spring is that after I leave the scrimmage, there is one part of me that is not happy, whether it's offense or defense."

"We'll probably limit the plays and the schemes that we're going to use and just let them line up and play football and play fast."

Kolby Smith returns
After missing the past few practices while recovering from a sore hamstring, senior running back Kolby Smith returned the practice fields on Friday afternoon.

"He looked a lot better," said Petrino. "He's not 100% yet, but he did run well in the drill work and I kept him out of the team stuff. I don't think he'll go tomorrow, but hopefully by Tuesday he'll be ready to go full speed."

Fellow senior running back Michael Bush, who missed last Saturday's scrimmage due to the flu, may not receive to many carries during today's action.

"I think it's been a really good spring for Michael," said Petrino. "He seeing things well, he's cutting well. He had the week when he had the flu, so I'm not sure how much work he'll get tomorrow. Hopefully he'll be ready to go for the spring game."

Brohm still on track
Quarterback Brian Brohm's road to recovery continues to move forward at an impressive rate.

"I think I am right on track to come into fall camp fully ready to go and be fully prepared for next season," said Brohm on Friday.

Willie Williams making strides
Junior college defensive tackle transfer Willie Williams has benefited from this week's refresher course. Following Friday's practice, Petrino said that it's a matter of how quickly the 6-foot-4, 310-pounder can pick up the Cardinals defensive schemes before he starts making a heavy impact on the defensive front.

"He's going to help us," he said. "It's just a matter of how quickly can he help us."

Following this week of practice, it sounds like it'll be sooner, rather than later.

"Willie certainly has the ability to help us right away," continued Petrino.

Remember When?
Some of you may remember this moment in Cardinal football history. It occurred during Bobby Petrino's first year as head coach as the coaching staff was discovering what type of talent and attitudes they had inherited from John L. Smith's 2002 team.

Receivers coach Paul Petrino, determined to gain the attention and respect of his new group, instilled a work ethic that has continued since this brief moment in time.

During the late stages of a practice, junior receiver J.R. Russell made a great catch across the middle and out ran the defenders to the end zone. It was a great play from an athlete that had received a bad rap from the previous staff. However, there was one simple problem - Russell seemed to begin his celebration prior to reaching the goal line, which drew the attention of Paul Petrino.

The Cardinals offensive coordinator raced up the sideline and essentially met Russell just out of bounds in the back of the end zone. Petrino quickly explained how that was not the attitude that he was searching for and then had Russell do a few up-down's as fans and media looked on.

A similar experience happened on Friday and again it included Paul Petrino.

Notre Dame transfer receiver Chris Vaughn pulled in a nice catch along the sideline and had an easy path to the end zone. With 30 or so yards still to run, Vaughn turned to return to the huddle.

"Finish the play," exclaimed Paul Petrino a number of times as he raced up the sideline to meet Vaughn in the end zone. After a couple up-down's, Vaughn turned and then made his return to the huddle.

In case you're wondering, J.R. Russell was the team's leading receiver during his two years under Paul Petrino and was a seventh round draft pick by his hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Simple Philosophy
The depth at the receiver position this spring is in a word - amazing. The Cardinals have big receivers, fast receivers, big and fast receivers, physical receivers and plenty of sure-handed receivers. Then consider that talented newcomers Latarrius Thomas, Johnny Patrick, Troy Pascley and Josh Chichester will join the AFROS this fall and the options for Bobby Petrino get even better.

The Cardinal head coach has a simple philosophy for the talented group of wideouts searching for game action this fall.

"Like I've told you before, it's their job to keep me happy," he explained. "That's what they need to do. The happier they keep me, the more balls they'll see."

Quick Hits

  • After starting spring at receiver, freshman Craig James continues to work with the cornerbacks.
  • Louisville Male High School athlete Douglas Beaumont visited the Cardinals Friday afternoon practice. The senior-to-be spent a few minutes visiting with Bobby Petrino and Greg Nord following the practice.

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