Spring Practice, Day 3: Pads On

It was more like winter than spring practice for the Louisville Cardinals Wednesday afternoon. On a cold, blustery day, Steve Kragthorpe's players put on pads for the first time this spring and had their most physical practice session since opening spring drills on Sunday.

In full pads, Louisville got after it during a more than two hour practice Wednesday afternoon. The Cardinals cranked up the intensity during the "Oklahoma Drill" early in the session (a one-on-one blocking drill where the defender must get off the block to tackle the running back) before going through 7 on 7 skeleton drills and full-on 11 on 11 action later in practice.

"I thought for the most part the tempo was pretty good," Kragthorpe said. "It's just good to get the pads on and start playing football again. We've got a lot of guys who haven't played a lot of football yet and they've got a lot to learn."

Louisville will practice again on Thursday afternoon then break for spring break. They'll return to the practice field March 24 and conduct ten more practices before the Spring Game on April 17. Thursday's practice and the March 24 and 26 sessions will be open to the public. 50-60 fans braved cold weather to watch practice Wednesday afternoon.

"We've got one more day before we go on spring break and to get better," Kragthorpe said. "We wanted to get out here and thump it up as much as we can and be real physical today and tomorrow and then we get a few days off and come back and keep going at it."

Louisville put on pads Wednesday for the first
time this spring.

The battle to replace Hunter Cantwell at quarterback looked like this during Wednesday's practice: Adam Froman took the first snaps during 7 on 7, with Tyler Wolfe getting second reps; NC State transfer Justin Burke third; redshirt freshman Zack Stoudt fourth and Will Stein fifth.

"We've got to see them make some plays," Kragthorpe said. "They are guys that can move around in the pocket and run a little bit. We want to give them time not only to make plays down the field but to fabricate some plays with their feet."

Each quarterback got two ‘reps' during 7-7's and they followed the rotation spelled out above. During the first series of rotations, Froman completed 1 of 2 passes – a slant pass to Maurice Clark. Wolfe and Burke completed both of their pass attempts, while Stoudt connected on 1 of 2 passes. During the second rotation, Froman failed to get a pass off and was forced to tuck and run on his first attempt, then nearly threw an interception that safety Justin Matthews dropped. On the next play, Matthews intercepted Wolfe's pass.

In the 11 on 11's, Stoudt and Wolfe made big plays in the passing game. Stoudt's highlight throw was a deep completion down the sideline that wide receiver Trent Guy hauled in over his shoulder. Wolfe connected on two deep passes, including a bomb to Josh Chichester over starting cornerback Johnny Patrick.

"He's doing a good job throwing the ball," Kragthorpe said of Froman. "He's actually a guy that throws the ball better when he's got pads on. I thought Justin (Burke) threw the ball well today and Tyler threw a couple of nice deep balls. So I think all of those guys are making progress."

The first team defense consisted of Joe Townsend and L.T. Walker at tackle, Greg Scruggs and William Savoy at end, Jon Dempsey, Stephen Garr and Brandon Heath at linebacker, Johnny Patrick and Kardell Dunning at corner and Richard Raglin and Justin Matthews at safety. Kragthorpe singled out Garr Dempsey, Matthews and safety Daniel Covington after practice.

"I thought Steve Garr had a good day for us and did some good things and Jon Dempsey is playing well for us," said Kragthorpe. "(Daniel) Covington made a couple plays and Justin Matthews did a good job coming down hill and smacking guys on the run."

Townsend, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound junior college transfer, certainly looks the part. He showed his ability to shed blockers during the ‘Oklahoma' drill and clogged the middle during the ‘live' action part of practice.

"He needs to (play right away). That's why we brought him in here," Kragthorpe said. "He's a big physical specimen and he continues to learn how to play at this level and tempo. I thought he did some really good things today. He's got to continue to be consistent."

Spring Practice Notebook: Day Three
Linebacker Antwon Canady and wide receiver Troy Pascley did not practice on Wednesday. Pascley was said to have a minor leg injury. Word around the practice field is that Pascley has packed on 26 pounds of muscle since the end of the season.

The first team offensive line was comprised of Jeff Adams and Greg Tomcyzk at tackle, Abdul Kuyateh and Josh Byrom at guard and Mario Benavides at center. Cameron Graham appears to be receiving a long look at tight end early in spring practice.

If the first three practices are any indication expect lots of wide receiver screens, screen passes to the running backs out of the backfield and underneath throws to the tight ends. Running back Victor Anderson said following practice that he's excited about the prospect of catching more passes out of the backfield.

A few former players were in attendance, including former All-America center Eric Wood. Wood is hoping to be a first day selection in the upcoming NFL Draft.

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