Kragthorpe looks for competitive spring game

Steve Kragthorpe is excited about Friday's spring game. The Louisville coach will put his team through a 12-series, 80-85 snap scrimmage at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium to culminate spring practice.

Cardinal fans will get their first extensive look at the 2009 Louisville football team during the annual spring game. The new-look Cardinals, featuring several new assistant coaches and players, including NC State transfer Justin Burke and junior college transfer Adam Froman, have practiced mostly behind closed doors this spring but will lift the veil for all to see Friday night.

"We've had a great spring so far – 14 really good practices," Kragthorpe said. "The guys have done a great job being competitive. That's what we've tried to do all winter long is create a very competitive environment. The guys have done a great job of battling each other on the practice field."

Besides being competitive this spring, Kragthorpe also wanted to develop a more physical team this spring. The Louisville coach seemed pleased with the physical nature of practice, noting that even his quarterbacks weren't immune from the hard-hitting during drills.

"We've had a very physical spring – the most physical spring I've ever been around," Kragthorpe said. "We had some time between practices to digest what we had installed and some time for our guys to heal up.

"We wanted to have a very physical spring. We wanted to continue to emphasize running the football and being a great play-action passing team. And also we wanted to develop the physical toughness of our team."

Redshirt freshman Darius Ashley has been
a breakout performer this spring.

Though Kragthorpe will call the offensive plays during the scrimmage and next season, he's hoping to see strong play from both the offense and defense Friday night.

"I want both sides to play well," Kragthorpe said. "I want to see some great things on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball. You don't really want there to be a dominating side."

That's a major reason Kragthorpe prefers to go 1's vs. 1's and 2's vs. 2 during the spring game.

"We use this as a barometer of where we're at and the things we need to continue to work on during the summer and schemes we need to look at," Kragthorpe said. "I need to see that one defensive lineman play against that one offensive tackle. I need to see that one secondary play against that one quarterback. I need to see how those guys respond.

"I want it to be even in the matchups so we can evaluate players and make determinations. I've got to see guys that I know I can count on going into fall training camp. We want to see which players step up in the tougher environment. Tomorrow is a big identification process for me."

The first 500 fans receive free t-shirts and the first thousand will receive free pizza. Several former Louisville stars, including Amobi Okoye, Mike Flores, Dave Ragone, William Gay and Otis Wilson, will also be on hand. The national runner-up women's basketball team will also sign autographs before the spring game.

"We're ready to go," Kragthorpe said. "We're ready to go out there and play (Friday) night. It'll be good to see them under the lights and with people in the stands."

The 2009 Louisville Annual Red-White Game is all set for Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Here is a schedule of events for the evening:

3:00 p.m. - Parking lots open,
5:30 p.m. - Gates open, Streetfest opens
5:45 p.m. - Youth Football Clinic-Indoor Trager (admission free)
6:30-7:15 p.m. - National Champion runner-up women's basketall team sign autographs
7:10 p.m. - Celebrity 7vs.7
7:30 p.m. - Spring game

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