Learning Curve; Freshmen get initiation

Charlie Strong's freshmen got their first real lesson Friday evening as they practiced with Louisville's returning players for the first time. Strong, UofL's first-year coach, hoped the integrated practice helped his newcomers get up to speed.

Charlie Strong's freshmen got their first real lesson Friday evening.

Though Louisville opened fall camp Thursday, the Cardinals newcomers practiced by themselves during an evening session. Friday, the entire team, veterans and freshmen, took the field together for the first time. Strong hoped the integrated practice helped his newcomers get up to speed.

"It's good to get the whole team out here and let the freshmen see how we operate," Strong said. "It was really important for them because they don't know the speed of the game right now. But with them getting out here with the vets they showed them how to work. They have a lot to learn."

Freshmen wide receiver Michaelee Harris could make an immediate impact.
With talent and depth lacking at several positions, particularly wide receiver and on the defensive line, Strong likely will be forced to play several true freshmen this season.

"They're going to get a lot of looks and practice time and they'll be evaluated, but it's hard to say right now [how many will play]," Strong said. "It depends on the position and your needs. You love to redshirt them but if there's a need at a position you have to play them. We'll be smart about playing them."

The Cardinals will take the weekend off, then resume practice behind closed doors Monday.

"Every day it's just fundamentals," Strong said. "We know we have to get better…fundamentally. The steps, catching the football, protecting the football, tackling. It's just all the fundamentals of the game."

Practice Notebook

Charlie Strong hasn't announced who will be the starting quarterback, but Justin Burke, Will Stein, and freshmen Dominique Brown and Marcus Smith will have to beat out Adam Froman for the job. Froman took the first snaps during 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 work, and received the majority of the work in the final ‘live' session Friday. Froman, who made quicker decisions with the ball than the other quarterbacks, made several nice connections in the passing game, including a deep completion to Troy Pascley and a nice hook up with tight end Cameron Graham over the middle.

You do not want to sit out a Charlie Strong practice with injury. Randy Salmon, a junior defensive tackle who sat out practice with a foot injury, worked harder than anybody on the field. Salmon didn't sit on the sidelines watching practice. Besides medicine ball work, Salmon pulled a John Deere transportation vehicle up a small hill while laying on his back. Talk about a workout.

Dominique Brown, who struggled in the passing game Thursday, looked more comfortable Friday throwing the ball. Brown threaded the needle on a completion to fellow freshman wide receiver Michaelee Harris, then hit tight end Jahmal Lawson across the middle.

Andrell Smith made some nice plays in the passing game. Smith showed excellent concentration while hauling in a tipped pass in traffic, then made another nice grab along the sideline while heavily defended. He's going to factor into the passing game this season.

Josh Chichester, who has moved from wide receiver to tight end, made an impressive, stretching grab to haul down a pass from Brown over the deep middle.

Josh Bellamy made an impression on the first day and made an even bigger one during his second practice. The JUCO transfer made several catches Friday, showing good hands on the slant route and over the middle.

Defensive back Mike Evans, a transfer from Nevada, intercepted a Marcus Smith pass from his safety position. Darius Ashley picked off Adam Froman and headed the other way untouched.

B.J. Butler and Brandon Dunn, freshmen defensive lineman, worked with the second team defense. So did transfer Mike Evans.

Josh Bellamy and Andrell Smith saw considerable reps along with Doug Beaumont with the first team offense.

Kamal Hogan, a freshman running back who missed practice Thursday, was at practice Friday. He was easily the biggest running back on the field.

Freshmen Deon Rogers and Corvin Lamb did not practice Friday after missing Thursday's practice. Both players are still awaiting academic clearance.

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