Cardinal head coach Bobby Petrino has his team approaching the final week of spring ball as if it's an actual game. From the team's on-the-field preparations to their work in the film room, this is essentially game week and Petrino is looking for game week effort from his players.
"The first thing is leading up to it," said Petrino following Tuesday's practice. "We want to take this week and really work on our preparation and try to make it as much like a game week as possible."
When the preparations come to an end and the game begins, Petrino wants his players to continue with their real game approach.
"Go out and try to play the best that you have all spring," Petrino said of his hopes for Friday's 7:30 p.m. scrimmage. "I think that's important. I think that it's important that you try to execute as an individual player and do the best that you have all spring."
The players efforts should be high as a handful of competitions continue to tighten at a number of positions.
"We have quite a few good competitions going on," said Petrino.
The need to replace three departed starters along the offensive line has been a point of focus all spring and the strong play from those returning from last year's squad has the U of L coaching staff still looking for the right combination.
"On the offensive front we are still working some guys around there trying to get the best matchup," explained Petrino. "Some guys have had better days than others, so we are still trying to become consistent there."
The need to replace three starters along the defensive front has also produced it's share of combinations and the search for a rush end is still up for grabs.
"[Along] the defensive line we are rotating and trying to find the right combination there," continued Petrino. "We're really looking for that edge rusher."
Cantwell having strong spring
The experience of starting the Cardinals final regular season game and at the Toyota Gator Bowl has helped sophomore quarterback Hunter Cantwell during his second spring practice.
"I think there has been huge progress for me," said Cantwell. "It's mostly mental at this point. I'm still getting better physically every day, but I'm picking up the mental aspect of the game. That's one thing that Coach Petrino said that I need to work on."
Petrino agreed that his mental approach has improved.
"There's no question about it," said Petrino. "There's nothing like experience and taking all those reps in practice. The young man can certainly throw the ball with anybody - his accuracy and arm strength is good as anybody's."
Bush's summer plans
As running back Michael Bush continues to prepare for his final year of college ball, the All-Big East Conference selection is planning on staying put during the summer months.
"A lot of guys will be going home, but I'm going to stay here and keep working and trying to stay in shape," he said.
Foster getting close
Offensive lineman Renardo Foster has been one of the great surprises this spring. The senior has come back from his knee and back injuries in strong fashion and is close to returning to the form that made him an All-Conference selection as a freshman.
"He's close to that," said Petrino. "In the run game I think he might be a little ahead of what he was. He has been very powerful and doing things right technically. In pass protection I think he just now getting back to his kick slide, his redirect and his ability to bend, so we need to really work hard on his flexibility in the off season."
First Team D
Things seem to change daily at a few positions, but the first team defense on Tuesday had Zach Anderson and Brandon Cox at defensive end, with Amobi Okoye and Adrian Grady at the tackle positions. Preston Smith, Nate Harris and Terrance Butler made up the first unit linebackers, while Rod Council, William Gay, Jon Russell and Brandon Sharp made up the defensive backfield.