VIDEO: Strong breaks down practice

Charlie Strong put his team through, maybe, the most physical, hard-hitting practice of the spring on Wednesday. After a grueling 20-period practice session, Louisville finished up practice with an intense scrimmage that featured big plays by tight end Cameron Graham and quarterback Adam Froman.

(Charlie Strong)

Bonus Video: Josh Chichester says team buying into Charlie Strong's system

Louisville's practice Wednesday afternoon was physical from start to finish.

The Cardinals started their 26-period practice working with the field goal unit. Chris Philpott, who made 8 of 9 field goals during Monday's practice, connected from 47 yards, but also had two attempts blocked, including one that barely got off the ground hitting a host a rushers in the chest. Johnny Patrick flew around the end and layed out to block the other attempt.

Louisville also spent time working on their kickoff coverage units, including their on-side kick drill. Doug Beaumont, Jacques Caldwell and Victor Anderson worked as the return men.

After some special teams work, the team broke into two groups to work on tackling drills with the wide receivers and defensive backs paired and the running backs and linebackers. The offense had a clear edge in both drills as the defense missed several tackles. One group of defenders missed so many tackles they were required to do up-downs at the end of the drill.

Adam Froman ran for a long touchdown during Wednesday's scrimmage action.
Toward the end of practice, Strong brought out the referees and his team went through a grueling scrimmage session. Bilal Powell and Jeremy Wright both ran hard during the scrimmage. Powell made a big play around right end to move the chains, while Wright, a 5-11, 190-pound redshirt freshman, repeatedly broke tackles to gain additional yardage.

Quarterback Adam Froman and senior tight end Cameron Graham also were standouts on offense. Froman made several nice throws, including a nice throw over the middle of the field to wide receiver Jacques Caldwell, who ran for extra yards in the secondary. Graham, the starter at tight end, moved the chains a couple times with receptions – one an impressive playaction pass from Justin Burke. But Graham's biggest play came towards the end of the scrimmage when he nearly outran the defense to the end zone before being hauled down just short of the goal line. Froman, on an option play, found daylight then outran defenders for a 60-plus yard score.

"We need to compete more and scrimmage more," Strong said. "The offense is doing a really good job. We just have to get the defense coming along and get them to continue to improve each day."

Defensively, safety Shenard Holton made the hit of the day, a jarring hit on 6-4, 210-pound wide receiver Andrell Smith that knocked loose a would-be completion deep down field. Defensive end Malcolm Tatum also broke through the offensive line to register a sack against Froman. While the defense gave up several big plays, there was also some gang-tackling on several occasions.

"We're not tackling well right now and we're not getting lined up," Strong said. "It's a whole new defense. It's a good thing that today is [practice] number five."

Louisville returns to practice Friday afternoon around 4 p.m. The Cardinals will hold their second major scrimmage of the spring Saturday morning at 8 a.m.

Practice Notebook

Will Stein showed up for practice with a walking boot on his right foot and with crutches. Stein had to be carted off the field during Monday's practice.

Josh Bellamy, a wide receiver signee from Florida, attended practice, as did three-star Lexington Christian offensive lineman Zach West.

Keep an eye on Isaac Geffrad, a freshman safety from Florida. He's made some plays this spring, and broke up a pass headed toward Stephon Ball during practice.

Speaking of Stephon Ball, the sophomore tight end is definitely on the rise this spring. His number has been called frequently this spring and he's usually delivered. Wednesday, Ball made a few impressive receptions during scrimmage session.

Bilal Powell is running better than he has at Louisville. The senior is in great shape and seems faster in the open field this spring.

Redshirt freshman Jeremy Wright is quickly making a name for himself this spring at running back with Vic Anderson out for contact. Wright has bulked up and broke several tackles during Wednesday's scrimmage. He's a tough runner after contact and also fielded some punts.

Following practice, Charlie Strong gathered the team and gave them an animated, 10-15 minute instructional lecture.

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