Football: Cards conclude 2 open practices!
A sea of red, white, and black surrounded the practice field this past weekend as fans came by the thousands to catch a glimpse of the 2012 football team. With the emergence of Teddy Bridgewater last season, a strong recruiting class, and several all-conference players, the Cardinals are viewed by many as a possible BCS team.
The practices, which started Friday, gave fans the opportunity to get a preview of the team before they open the season September 2nd against arch-rival Kentucky. High energy filled the practices as players showed their coaches and the fans their offseason improvements. Members of the Cardinal Sports Zone team were in attendance both days and some will note their thoughts, impressions, and their expectations for the Cardinals this season.
Brad Jones’ notes:
The Saturday practice started with the fans getting up close with the defense. The defensive line worked on getting off blocks and Vance Bedford, defensive coordinator, worked with the cornerbacks on coverage. Next, the special teams took the field and coaches worked with the players on punt and kick returns as well as field goal attempts. The latter parts of practice were dedicated to 7 on 7 drills where several receivers impressed the crowd with amazing catches.
Overall, I was impressed with Bridgewater. He has put on a good amount of muscle in the offseason and clearly showed he is the best quarterback and arguable player on the team. He didn’t seem to miss a beat out there and threw the ball effortlessly. In my opinion, he is going to have a monster season.
I expect the cardinals to be in a BCS game this year. With the schedule, they have a chance to go undefeated. They are solid at quarterback and receiver and the OL is anchored by Mario Benavides. On defense, the linebacking core is stacked and the safety and corners are tough and quick.
Here is Mario Benavides talking to the media after practice.
Justin Renck’s notes:
I attended both days of practice, and came away impressed and looking forward even more to September 2nd. I tried to pay attention to the drills and the 11 on 11 plays and see what players stood out and who made big plays. So I will try to sum those up here…
Wide Receiver Michalee Harris and Linebacker Deon Rogers both had a knee brace on their right knee. On Friday, they did not participate in drills with their other position players. Instead, they were off to the side running and rehabbing. On Saturday, Harris spent some time catching balls from the machine. I hope he is ready for the season opener, because when healthy, he is a big play threat at all times. He has been hampered with injuries since he got here in 2010. Adding him to the mix with DeVante Parker, Eli Rogers, and Andrell Smith…WOW!
Other injury news: on Saturday, CB Jordon Paschal walked by me on crutches and had a walking boot on his left foot.
Staying with the wide receivers, DeVante Parker really showed that he is the go-to receiver and I predict he will make some big plays this season. He made some catches that drew the “ohhh’s and ahhh’s” from the crowd. On Friday, I just happened to look over at the receivers, who were on the far field and not close to the crowd. Will Stein threw a deep ball down the sideline, and it looked like it was easily overthrown and Parker caught up to it and fully extended his arms to catch it. I was standing with a UofL Sports Info Director, and he saw it too, because we both said “Wow, what a catch!” at the same time.
Our defensive linemen look like absolute beasts! Just seeing the size of Jamaine Brooks (6’4 330), Brandon Dunn (6’3 285), and Roy Philon (6’3 290) blew me away. I’d be surprised if many teams have success running the ball against those guys! Speaking of Dunn, he told the media that he lost 25 pounds in the off-season and feels much better out there.
He has to sit out this season because of transfer rules, but remember the name Matt Milton. The transfer from Tennessee is a 6’5 208 lb wide receiver. Trust me, you will be able to spot him on the field. He will tower over whoever is defending him, and he showed some good hands in making some good catches. I can’t wait to see him in 2013!
Some quick hitter notes from both days 11 on 11 work:
-DE Marcus Smith batted down the first pass from Bridgewater on Friday at the line of scrimmage. Remember, he came to UofL as a QB, and he is now 6’3 256 lbs. Just a great athlete.
-Senior Tight End Nate Nord made some good catches on both days. On Friday, he made a good one slanting towards the sideline. Saturday, he caught one running straight up field in traffic. If he can have any type of a Gary Barnidge-like season, that would be huge for Teddy.
-The running back position should be of no concern for the Cards this year. We have 4 guys who could be “the guy”. Dominique Brown is 6’2 and 226 lbs and now has had a full off-season to practice the position. Jeremy Wright has been a solid back since his freshman year in 2010. The two guys that maybe you have or haven’t heard of are Senorise Perry and Corvin Lamb. Look for these two guys to see some action on the field this year and contribute.
-Teddy Bridgewater showed his improvement on the field. While last year he was able to show his poise, I think this year you will be able to see his confidence as the signal-caller. He now has complete command of the offense and understands it so much better, and it shows. He made a sideline pass to Andrell Smith that only he could go up and get, and he did make a great catch on that. He also threw between 2 defenders to hit a slanting DeVante Parker.
Reactions from Twitter
We asked the fans who they were impressed with at the practices, and a few weighed in, along with a couple of other CSZ members:
@Biff_Webster “Copeland was a pleasant surprise. Battled injuries for two years. Came out and played very well in first two practices.”
@JeremyW55 “Gaines, perry,lamb and Preston Brown and the other two kids running voluntary sprints after practice.”
@twiams “I was most impressed with the Cards coaching staff. The staff was “up in your FACE!”"
Check out the rest of the photo gallery and a video of Vance Bedford!
Special thanks to Tony Williams and Hassan Mahdavi for taking the pictures on Saturday!
Posted on August 5, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged Andrell Smith, Brandon Dunn, Charlie Strong, Corvin Lamb, Deon Rogers, DeVante Parker, Dominique Brown, Eli Rogers, Gary Barnidge, Jamaine Brooks, Jeremy Wright, louisville cardinals, Louisville Football, Marcus Smith, Mario Benavides, Matt Milton, Michalee Harris, Nate Nord, Roy Philon, Senorise Perry, Teddy Bridgewater, Vance Bedford, Will Stein. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.