LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Coming off an 8-5 season a year ago and winners of eight of its final 10 games, the University of Louisville football team — with 17 starters returning — officially reported to campus for the start of fall practice, which begins Wednesday morning.
The newcomers will hit the field at 8:50 a.m. and the vets will practice at 4:20 a.m.
“We are excited to get started,” head coach Bobby Petrino said at his pre-season press conference on Tuesday. “I thought we had a great summer. I think we are a stronger football team and are certainly a faster football team. We have great leadership from within on this team and they really enjoy being around each other.”
Expectations are high surrounding the Cardinals as they head into fll camp. With 10 starters back on offense and seven on defense, the Cardinals were picked to finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but obviously, the team has much biggers goals with so much experience returning.
“I embrace the high expectations,” Petrino said. “I want our players to believe that they can go out and win a championship. The best thing is that we get to go out on the practice field and improve. I like the high expectations and the motivation from the offseason, but now its time to shut up and go work.”
Most of the talk has centered around the return and development of sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson, who rushed for 960 yards and 11 touchdowns, while throwing for 1,840 yards and 12 touchdowns. With a year under his belt, Petrino looks for great things from his second-year quarterback.
“We want him to be an overall quarterback,” Petrino said. “We want him to throw the ball; go through his progressions. He needs to keep his vision and get the ball down field a little more this year. He has been great about improving and getting better on a daily basis. He has been up here watching video and becoming a better overall quarterback.”
Junior Reggie Bonnafon, who also addressed the media on Tuesday, will make the transition to wide receiver after spending the whole spring working on his new position. A quarterback last season, Bonnafon was moved around toward the end of the year, and seemed to settle in a wide receiver.
“I can line up at multiple positions at receiver and still know what role I have and what to do,” Bonnafon said. “It’s helped me out a lot, and now that I’m in the receivers meeting room, I can help those guys out just knowing some of things we’re discussing in the quarterback room that might not be discussed in the receivers room.”
** Petrino announced the addition of offensive lineman James Dematto, who was scheduled to be a redshirt, but with some roster moves, the talented lineman from Marietta, Ga., will be on campus on Wednesday for the first practice.
“We liked James as a player,” Petrino said. “We had a spot on the roster, so we thought we would bring him in now. We feel like he would redshirt and have four years to play.”