Running back coach Tony Alford said after Wednesday's practice that he is extremely pleased with the way his unit has started off camp.
With Brock Bolen, Bilal Powell and Victor Anderson leading the way, Alford has plenty of talent at his disposal. Even more so than their collective talent-level, Alford praised his groups work-ethic and attention to detail.
"I'm encouraged by the whole group," said Alford. "They're good guys and it's a fun group to be around. They come to work every day. From top to bottom I am really excited about this group of guys. I told Tom Jurich the other day that this is the most fun I've had in ten years of coaching."
Without pads the past two days, Alford says it's hard to evaluate his running back effectively. What he's looked for during the first two days are his backs fundamental understanding of their position.
"As far as the backs go as long as they're looking at the right thing and make the initial right cut in the run game and the fundamentals of the game – ball security, pushing their routes to depth and picking up the blitz – I'm (happy). So that's what I'm looking for – assignment things," Alford said.
Alford has a couple new additions to his group of running backs. Touted freshman Darius Ashley has shown a lot of promise early in camp and former linebacker Eugene Sowell has moved over from the defensive side of the football.
"Eugene requested the switch because he felt this was his best position," Alford said. "I've given him a shot but the hard thing is there are only so many reps to go around. So I've got to figure out a way to be able to implement him in and get him a few reps here and there. I think he's a great kid and he really tries to learn things all the time."
While Ashley has shown promise, Alford said it's too early to predict what his role might be this season.
"It's way premature to make any decision on that," Alford said. "He's been here all summer and his body is ready to go. He comes from a great program and he understands the value of hard work. I think it's too early to say what his role will be but he's not scared to compete."
What's not uncertain is that Powell and Anderson will be a big part of Louisville's ground attack, providing big play ability for the Cardinals offense. Alford said Powell has really grown up both physically and mentally, adding 10-12 pounds of muscle during the off-season without losing any of his break-away speed.
"They've both matured," Alford said. "I think they're understanding the college game a little bit more. Their retention from the spring has been really good. Those guys have the ability to make plays. I've been very impressed with both of them."
***Sophomore cornerback Johnny Patrick had a good day of practice. Patrick had an interception during skeleton drills and nearly picked off another pass during 11-on-11 work at the end of practice.
***Junior cornerback Chaz Thompson made an interception during skeleton drills. Thompson was pretty solid on the day – running stride for stride with Scott Long down the right sideline before batting down a Hunter Cantwell pass attempt.
catches during Wednesday's
***The battle for the kick-off job will likely come down to freshman Chris Philpott and Ryan Payne. Philpott probably has the stronger leg and the ball definitely has a different sound when he puts his foot into it.
***At the start of camp, sophomore Pete Nochta appears to have the upper hand at tight end.
***Senior WR Chris Vaughn made several catches during the skeleton and 11-on-11 periods of practice. He made three grabs in the 11 on 11, including a tough catch over the middle of the field in heavy traffic. Vaughn will be a big key to Louisville's passing attack this season.
***UofL AD Tom Jurich made his first appearance at fall practice.
Quotes of the Day:
"Every time you put your hands down..if we were in a bar I would have hit you five times in the face. Keep your hands up and loaded." –Running back coach Tony Alford to a young back during blocking drills.
"The biggest thing I'm looking for is that you compete your [expletive] off." - Alford to another young running back during drills.
"I can't afford to have the quarterback hurt – study the damn playbook." – offensive line coach Brent Myers to one of his top linemen.
"Huddle up, huddle up..let's go." – Eric Wood barked at his teammates after a busted running play.