Defense gets best of offense in Spring Game

There were two clear-cut conclusions to be made following the University of Louisville's spring football game Friday night.

1.) There is no clear-cut favorite in the quarterback competition, and 2.) the defense beat the offense 37-28 in front of 15,300 fans at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

In the first game-action look at the Cardinals since their 63-14 season-ending loss at Rutgers, which capped 2008's 5-7 campaign, UofL's defense proved slightly more effective than its offense.

The D (the White team), which returns seven starters from last season, allowed the O (the Red team), which returns nine starters, to reach the end zone just four times in the 16-series game that featured its own scoring system for the offense and the defense.

"I think we've made significant progress as far as the toughness of our football team," UofL coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "You can see there's no drop-off on defense (with the coaching change). The defense was very physical and I think Coach (Brent) Guy has done an excellent job with that group. They have built off what they accomplished last season."

While the defense showed that it has continued to make strides under Guy, the new coordinator who replaced the departed Ron English, the offense hasn't found an obvious replacement for Hunter Cantwell at quarterback yet. Five signal-callers took turns under center last night.

Junior Tyler Wolfe threw the most passes, completing 4 of 11 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.

Junior Justin Burke completed the most passes. The N.C. State transfer was 6-for-10 for 69 yards. Redshirt freshman Zack Stoudt passed for the most yards, completing 5 of 7 passes for 84 yards and a score.

The Louisville defense won Friday night's
spring game.

Froman, the junior college transfer, showed flashes of his strong arm, going 3-for-6 for 58 yards. While Stein, the walk-on redshirt freshman, was 2-for-4 for 11 yards.

"We're all competing right now," said Froman, who was a junior college All-American at Santa Rosa (Calif.). "I think we all did some good things."

It took the Cardinal offense four series before it reach the 50, as the defense built an 8-0 lead. Burke was the first QB under center, and he completed his first pass to Victor Anderson.

Anderson followed with a 7-yard run for UofL's first first down. But it was the Cards' last for awhile. That drive was stopped after three more plays, which equaled two points for defense.

Stoudt was stopped on fourth down (three points for the D), then Froman was forced three and out (three more points for the defense) before Wolfe took over.

The junior, who appeared in two games last season and completed 2 of 4 passes, engineered the first UofL scoring drive. He marched the offense downfield, covering 65 yards in nine plays. Wolfe was 3-for-6 on the series, capping it off with a 35-yard touchdown strike to Doug Beaumont. The 5-foot-9 junior, who led the team in receptions but failed to get into the end zone last season, caught the ball near the 10 then cut back and into the end zone.

"I didn't even know what to do when I scored a touchdown," Beaumont joked later.

UofL made it back-to-back scores on Burke's second series. The 6-3, 229-pounder from Lexington Catholic High School needed just four plays to lead the Red into the end zone. He started things off with a 19-yard pass to junior tight end Cameron Graham. Anderson followed with a 2-yard rush, then Beaumont scampered 38 yards on a reverse. Anderson scored from 1-yard out the next play to make it 14-8 in favor of the offense.

The defense then stopped a Stein-led drive (two points for the D) and forced Froman to the sidelines after a fourth down (three points for the White) before Stoudt led the offense on a quick scoring drive on the final series before halftime.

On his first snap Stoudt connected with Troy Pascley on a 47-yard pass. Marcus Roberts followed with back-to-back rushes before Stoudt fumbled the snap. But stout (6-4, 215-pound) Stoudt made up for it on the next by, though, rolling to his right and connecting with redshirt freshman tight end Nathan Nord for a 7-yard TD to give the offense a 21-13 lead at halftime.

Defense dominated the second half. The White team only allowed one TD, while scoring one of its own, and kept the offense out of the end zone on the final series of the game.

The UofL D stopped the UofL O on six straight series after halftime. The highlight was redshirt freshman defensive lineman Drew Davis' fumble recovery in the end zone for a TD that gave the White a 29-21 lead.

The Red rallied on the 15th series (which was considered overtime in the game) with a 2-yard TD run by Anderson - his second score of the game - to make it 34-28.

But the defense came up big on offense's final possession. On fourth-and-goal from the 1 senior safety Justin Matthews dragged sophomore fullback Zach Meagher out of bounds at the 3-yard line after Meagher caught a pass from Stoudt.

"I've seen it all spring, they have great people on defense," said Beaumont, who had three rushes for 55 yards to go along with his TD reception.

Junior Blayne Donnell of Louisville's Trinity High School had the most carries (13) for a UofL running back and gained 53 yards.

Senior Marcus Roberts added 44 yards on seven carries and redshirt freshman Darius Ashley gained 41 yards on 12 carries. Meanwhile Anderson, last year's Big East Rookie of the Year, gained 26 yards on only eight carries.

Junior tight end Cameron Graham led the receiving corps with four catches for 55 yards. Josh Chichester had three receptions for 62 yards, but he dropped a sure-touchdown from Froman in the game's fourth quarter.

"I feel like the team has been coming together in the spring," Beaumont said. "By next year we're going to be like a family."

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