LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After putting the pads on for the first time on Sunday, the University of Louisville football team was back on the practice fields Monday afternoon for another full pads workout that lasted just over two and a half hours.
It was the sixth practice overall and second in full pads for Bobby Petrino’s 23rd-ranked team that is preparing for its September 1 season opener at home versus Charlotte.
“Camp has been really hard,” junior running back Jeremy Smith said after practice. “The first week, the young guys had their own practice so the older guys were getting a lot of reps… that’s been the hardest part.”
Smith is one of at least seven running backs vying for playing time this season, but the Louisiana native has an advantage because he received playing time a year ago.
Coming to Louisville from Fresno City Community College, Smith rushed for 270 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games a year ago, and knows he is part of a talented stable of running backs.
“We all bring something different to the table,” Smith said. “However, we all worked together to help each one of us become better players.”
Running backs coach Kolby Smith, who enters his third season, also understands that he has a good group of backs, but has been in Petrino’s system long enough that you must follow the manta “Feed the Studs.”
“We plan on using all the backs in various roles,” Smith said. “The motto Feed the Studs has been around here forever. The players all know that whoever has the hot hand will stay in the game.”
One thing all the backs will be asked to do is to protect the quarterback – the number one priority at that position/ Kolby Smith makes sure his position groups understands that keep the quarterback upright is the main objective.
“I tell the guys all the time you have to have courage to put your nose in there,” Smith said. “You have to have heart and go in there and stud up someone. If you can do that, then you are going to play.”
The weapons, at every position, were on full display in practice on Monday. The offense continued to progress, but what was evident, was the fact that the Cardinals have multiple playmakers at every position.
Junior wide receiver Reggie Bonnafon is proving to be a tough matchup for defenses as he has hit big plays in each of the last two days, while tight end Cole Hikutini is also proving to be a sure-handed receiver and a tough cover.
Sophomore Jaire Alexander and junior Shaq Wiggins recorded interceptions during skelly late in Monday’s practice.
The Cardinals will be back on the field on Tuesday afternoon before the first double-session of fall camp on Wednesday morning.