Second-year coach Steve Kragthorpe sounded pleased with his team's energy and enthusiasm after the first day of spring drills. On a cold and rainy day in Louisville, the Cardinals practiced indoors at the Trager Center in shorts for about two hours Wednesday afternoon.
"We had a good first day overall but we have a lot of work to do," Kragthorpe said. "It's hard to evaluate these guys in terms of being physical because we don't have pads on right now. But I liked the tempo and I think we're doing some good things."
to the defense on the opening day
of spring practice.
With Brian Brohm watching from the sidelines, Hunter Cantwell took charge of the Louisville offense on the practice field as the presumptive starter. He was extremely sharp – and accurate - on the first day of practice.
"Hunter's been good," Kragthorpe said. "He's got good command of what we're doing and he's wanted to jump into the leadership role. So I like the way he's embraced it and he threw the ball well today."
Several redshirt freshmen and junior college transfers made positive impressions on both sides of the ball on the first day of spring practice. Running back Dale Martin slipped past Miami transfer James Bryant on a swing pass for a big gain up the sideline. Offensive lineman Mark Wetterer worked with the first team at guard. On defense, defensive end Patrick Grant showed off an improved physique.
Of the junior college transfers, Josh Wiley saw significant action at safety with both the first and second units. Chris Campa worked exclusively with the first team defense at linebacker. Justin Matthews showed good size and speed at safety with the second team defense.
"We're going to throw them right in there," Kragthorpe said. "They're guys we're going to count on to play. I don't call it rebuilding I call it reloading. We just have to have some guys step up into those roles that have been vacated."
Of course, the storyline of the day on defense was new coordinator Ron English. Say this for English, who came from Michigan this off-season – he's intense, instructive and brings a lot of energy to the defense. If you're a player and make a mistake you can be sure English will be in your ear with instruction on what should have happened on the play.
It's also clear that English is keeping things extremely simple on defense at the start of practice. The defense worked exclusively with two coverages and two fronts on the first day of practice and word is they'll continue working with those until they get them down cold.
tackle during Wednesday afternoon's
"We're just trying to get lined up and do a good job communicating," Kragthorpe said. "I liked the tempo, I liked the communication and I like the enthusiasm. We've just got to be sound and simple and line up and play."
Sophomore wide receiver Doug Beaumont must have worked hard on developing his body during the off-season. He looked slim and trim – and faster.
Junior wide receiver JuJuan Spillman was back on the field. He worked at both wide receiver and punt return.
Michigan transfer James McKinney worked with the second team defense at tackle.
Though they weren't in pads, Miami transfer James Bryant looked good at linebacker today, intercepting a pass from Matt Simms and returning it for a touchdown. He also made a would-be tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Bryant did get beat by Dale Martin for a big gain on a screen on an incorrect pursuit angle.
The first team defense: DE – Rodney Gnat, L.D. Scott; DT – Earl Heyman, Adrian Grady; LB – Josh McDonald, Chris Campa and James Bryant; CB – Woodny Turenne, Travis Norton; S – Bobby Buchanan, Richard Raglin. Josh Wiley also saw significant reps at safety.
Wide receivers Chris Vaughn, Josh Chichester and Scott Long all made long receptions during 7 on 7 drills. The offense was very efficient during the seven on seven portion of practice, missing on only a handful of pass attempts.
Latarrius Thomas dressed but did not take part in practice drills. Thomas redshirted last season with a knee injury. He spent practice doing stretching and flexibility drills on the sidelines.