Stripling stars during long, hot scrimmage

With Michael Bush and Kolby Smith sitting out, sophomore running back George Stripling put up monster numbers during the University of Louisville football teams scrimage Saturday morning. We've got all the highlights, including comments from head coach Bobby Petrino.

The Louisville football team had an intense 143-play scrimmage Saturday morning on the practice fields just north of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Afterward, Louisville coach Bobby Petrino seemed pleased with the effort and intensity his team displayed.

"It was very competitive," Petrino said. "I thought both sides showed a lot of spirit and flew around a little bit."

While several players stood out during the nearly two and half hour scrimmage, perhaps no player shown brighter than sophomore running back George Stripling. With Michael Bush and Kolby Smith both held out of the action, Stripling took advantage taking carries with the first team offense. All told, Stripling rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

"As we got going, George Stripling ran the ball better the more carries he got," Petrino said. "We also saw some good things from Brock Bolen and Sergio Spencer."

Bolen, a transfer from Illinois, also ran well. He ripped off four run of 10 yards or more and made a nifty play when he hurdled a defender and scampered down the right sideline for a 33 yard gain to set up a touchdown. Bolen also caught a three yard touchdown pass from Hunter Cantwell on the scrimmage's first series.

Junior wide receiver Harry Douglas also had a big day. The 5-11 speedster caught at least eight passes, including a 40 yard reception against tight coverage over the middle and a 15 yard touchdown grab.

"Harry Douglas made some big plays," Petrino said.

Cantwell, with a Sports Illustrated crew watching his every move for an upcoming feature, also had a good scrimmage. He threw three touchdown passes and was on target most of the day. Pat Carter also made some big plays under center, including a 40 yard touchdown pass to Corey Thompson.

Harry Douglas had a big day, and
has emerged as the Cardinals top
receiver this spring.

"Our quarterbacks need to do a better job of seeing what's happening and getting us into some better plays," Petrino said. "They threw the ball well, now they just have to understand the entire (offensive) package."

Terrance Butler, William Gay, Nate Harris and Adrian Grady led the way for an improving defense. Butler took nearly every snap with the first team defense and didn't disappoint. He recorded 2 tackles for loss and pursued the ball well. Gay broke up two passes, while Harris delivered the hit of the day on Sergio Spencer.

"Defensively, I thought Adrian Grady did a really nice job on the defensive front," said Petrino. "He's really been improving a lot. He's taken over and is showing leadership and I like to see that. The secondary flew around a little better and I think we tackled better. The more we get to scrimmage the better we tackle."

Toward the end of the scrimmage, Petrino had his team practice overtime situations and had to be pleased with how both his first team offense and defense responded. While the No. 1 offense scored a touchdown on their first possession, the No. 1 defense came up big when safety Jonathan Russell intercepted a pass.

"That was good," Petrino said. "We've been working on overtime situations in practice. The offense drove the ball and got it into the end zone, and then the defense came out and Jon Russell made a great play. But it wasn't just Jon, the other guys recognized the naked (bootleg) and the defensive end put pressure on the quarterback. It was good to see them all recognize and react like that."

Also of interest, Petrino should get some good feedback on his offensive line play from the scrimmage. While tackles Marcel Benson and Breno Giacomini split reps with the first team offense, Danny Barlow and George Bussey rotated at guard. Though those two spots still appear up for grabs, it appears Renardo Foster has put a strangle hold on his old job.

"Foster's taken his job back on the other side," Petrino said. "He'd have to have somebody to really step up to take that (position) away from him. He's really been motivated to learn and do things right all the time."

Petrino also said he thought the offensive front would be fine – in time.

"I think we're going to be a good offensive line, it's just a matter of when," he said.

Heading into next Friday's Spring Game, Petrino said he's noticed two key improvements from his team since spring practice began three weeks ago.

"I think we continue to get better running the ball, which is going to be important for us," Petrino said. "I think our defense is getting better tackling and gang tackling."

Scrimmage Notes

  • Sophomore corner Travis Norton saw reps with the first team defense in place of William Gay early in the scrimmage.

  • Chris Vaughn made several receptions over the middle, including a 30 yard catch against the No. 2 defense.

  • Sophomore defensive end Maurice Mitchell made a nice pass break up at the line of scrimmage.

  • Redshirt freshman tight end Careg Bonner caught a 10 yard TD from Hunter Cantwell.

  • Michael Bush, Brian Brohm, Kolby Smith, JuJuan Spillman, and Bobby Buchanan were each held out of the scrimmage.

  • Wide receiver Jimmy Riley fumbled twice during the scrimmage.

  • Columbus (IN) East quarterback Drew Kiel watched practice with his father. Kiel had an up close view of the U of L offense during the scrimmage, watching the action from the field behind the huddle. Kiel threw for 2,102 yards, 18 touchdowns, and seven interceptions as a junior.

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