Camp Kragthorpe: practice report

The first practice of Camp Kragthorpe is in the books. Louisville practiced for two hours in the 90 degree heat Thursday and had a look of intensity befitting the defending Big East champion. The word for the first day of practice: Tempo.

The first practice of Camp Kragthorpe is in the books. Louisville practiced for two hours in the 90 degree heat Thursday and had a look of intensity on the first day befitting the defending Big East champion.

The word for the day: Tempo.

After practice, U of L's first-year coach preached tempo to his players, specifically the need to play fast.

"Coach K told us after practice that we need much better tempo and I think he's right," junior defensive tackle Earl Heyman said. "We have only two speeds. Either we're walking through going through our sets and plays and then fast."

Though preseason practice just got underway, the Cardinals first game against Murray State is only four weeks away. Kragthorpe said that fact has created a sense of urgency to get prepared and that's a primary reason he wants his team to get after it in practice.


Matt Simms drew lots of
attention on Day One.

And that's what Kragthorpe is looking for early in camp – a faster tempo.

"I thought it was a great (practice)," Kragthorpe said. "The tempo was good. I thought the retention level from last spring was pretty good. We were a little rusty, which is what you expect. It was good to get out there and get going again. We got some heat. It was hot and humid which is good."

"It went pretty well," said senior quarterback Brian Brohm. "I thought everybody came out with a lot of energy. There were some new guys out there learning how to practice and I think things will get a lot better tomorrow. The first day is always hard. You just want to get out there and get it out of the way and just get moving toward the rest of the practices. For the first day I thought it was pretty good."

Brohm thinks the pace of practice will speed up once the newcomers start to understand how things work.

"I think you have to know where you're going to be able to go fast and I think a lot of guys might have been thinking," Brohm said. "But we haven't been practicing and just knowing where to go and what to do. Once everybody gets in the flow of things the tempo will pick up and things will go faster."

"The biggest thing I'm looking for is tempo and getting in and out of the huddle," Kragthorpe said. "Execution, in terms of guys getting lined up properly. Communication, in terms of the huddle to the snap count for both the offense and defense. More than anything what I'm looking for is guys popping around, particularly in these first couple days."

Even without pads on, Louisville's newcomers looked impressive. JUCO transfers Willie Williams and Chaz Thompson look like immediate contributors. RB Victor Anderson showed tremendous vision and speed. And WR Doug Beaumont worked with the second team.

"It's hard to evaluate anybody right now because we're playing powder puff football right now," Kragthorpe said. "We're still in underwear, so I'll tell you in a week to ten days when we get the pads on and get a full scrimmage under our belt."

Still, Kragthorpe liked what he saw from his newcomers.

"I thought in terms of them being out there and getting in and out of the huddle and not being wide eyed, I thought they did a good job," said Kragthorpe said. "We're going to throw a lot of information at them in the next ten days and then we'll evaluate where (they're) at. I thought for the most part those guys blended right in."

Heyman was also impressed with Louisville's new additions.


Freshmen RB's Victor Anderson
and Dale Martin.

"They all impressed me," Heyman said. "I got to work with them this summer when I was coming off my foot injury and got to know a lot of them. They've not only impressed me as players, they've impressed me as people – good people."

Speaking of Heyman, who has switched to No. 99 this season, he's doing just fine after undergoing surgery last spring for a broken foot. Heyman showed no signs that the injury has slowed him down.

"It's healed," Heyman said.

Several hundred fans braved the heat and humidity to catch a glimpse of the Cards. Veteran Bob Maxey, as usual, was in charge of distributing rosters. Those who stayed for the duration were treated to a little 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 near the end of practice.

"I think it's great when the fans are out there," Kragthorpe said.

The fans also got their first look at Willie Williams, an athletic freak who made his presence felt on the first day. Williams was impressive early in practice during drills, then showed his speed late by breaking up a pass out of nowhere.

"I thought (Willie) played well today," Kragthorpe said. "New Willie Williams showed some speed and some flashes there, which is good. What we're looking for is consistency. We're looking for guys that can produce on a consistent basis."

Heyman believes Williams will be a major factor right away for the Louisville defense.

"Willie is a fun guy," Heyman said. "He's one of those crazy guys that jumps around and plays as fast as he can and as hard as he can. And I like that. I think he's going to be a great addition to the defense. I think he's going to be really great."


Miami linebacker transfer James Bryant.

While Williams and Chaz Thompson were on the field, Woodny Turenne watched practice from the sidelines. Kragthorpe updated the talented cornerbacks status after practice.

"Woodny should hopefully be cleared here pretty quick," Kragthorpe said. "It's just a transcript issue. Everything is done. He's taken care of all his business. He's got all the grades he needs and all the classes he needs. It's just a paper-work trail that we're fighting right now."

Kragthorpe sounds extremely confident that Turenne, rated one of the top JUCO's in the nation, will be on the field very soon.

"It's a mere formality," Kragthorpe said. "We'll get him out there as soon as the NCAA allows us to. And that means we have to get the proper documents here."

Highlights

  • Mario Urrutia had an inconsistent first practice. The 6-foot-6 junior dropped several routine passes, but made two spectacular receptions over the top of the defense.
  • Scott Long picked up right where he left off last spring. The sophomore wide receiver caught everything thrown his way, including a deep touchdown reception during skelly drills.
  • Miami transfer James Bryant was on the field and did practice. Bryant is a physical specimen and worked out with the linebackers. He'll sit out this season, then have one season left to play.
  • Three-star Arizona wide receiver Jarrell Barbour made an unofficial visit and took in the Cardinals first practice with his father. Harry Douglas went over to talk with Barbour during a water break between practice sessions.
  • JaJuan Spillman also had an impressive first day, catching a few passes in traffic.
  • Mike Donoghue worked with the first team O-Line in place of projected starter Marcel Benson. Benson will miss the 2007 season recovering from a heart condition.

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