Lonnie Galloway, Jaylen Smith and Seth Dawkins spoke with the media after today’s practice. The wide receivers know they have a very big role on this team if they want to have a special year.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Returning a Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback and an explosive group of wide receivers, University of Louisville co-offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway has many reasons to be excited about coming to work every day.
After finishing third in the nation in total offense and sixth in scoring, the Cardinals, despite returning just five starters, have pieces back to light up the scoreboard again. The Cardinals have some young players within the offense who can step in and replace the missing statistics.
Junior Jaylen Smith and sophomore Seth Dawkins are part of that explosive equation on offense, and by adding a few more young, talented players, the Cardinals have quite a bit of depth at the wide receiver position.
“It’s still early to say,” Galloway said when asked who is standing out, “but I like our guys. In the scrimmage on Saturday, I thought Seth and Jaylen made some plays. I thought Traveon Samuel made a play or two, and Lamar Jackson was extremely sharp.”
The Cardinals looked explosive at times during Saturday’s first major scrimmage of fall camp. Led by the precision of Jackson’s passing, the offense was able to get the ball down the field and made a number of plays in space.
“Saturday’s scrimmage had a lot to see,” Galloway said. “Not so much as scheme, but just individuals executing plays and doing their jobs.”
With the loss of James Quick, Cole Hikutini, and Jamari Staples, who combined for 131 catches a year ago, there are plenty of opportunities for someone to step in and replace as those receptions.
“You have to go out and execute in practice,” Galloway said. “A lot of times in practice, I’m looking to see who is competing in all the drills, who is making plays in skelly, and who is making plays in the scrimmages.
“The catches will come. I tell them all the time that 90 percent of the time you don’t have a football in your hands, so you have to be able to block down the field.”
Smith led the Cardinals last year with 27 receptions for 599 yards and six scores. More importantly, he was third in the nation with a 22.2 yards per catch average. He scored on a 61-yard pass versus Syracuse and a 51-yarder in a win at Marshall.
In the first scrimmage, Smith also made more plays down the field, but the Pascagoula, Miss., native was very impressed with his fellow receivers as a whole.
“We looked really good,” Smith said. “We made a lot plays … lot of deep catches and a lot of contested catches. We made the plays that needed to be made. We dropped a few balls, but for the most part, I felt we did very well.”
Entering his third season in the system, Smith feels like he’s well prepared for the grind of training camp and understands what to expect.
“It’s a little bit easier for me,” Smith said, “because I know what to expect from it. I know how to take care of my body and hydrate. I always expect to have my best year, so I just continue to go to work each day.”
Getting his feet wet a year ago as one of only three true freshmen to see action, Dawkins is expected to have a bigger role in the offense. Recording 11 catches for 159 yards as a rookie, Dawkins is coming off a dominating spring where he ran better routes and displayed an ability to go get the football.
“I think I’m ready for a better season,” Dawkins said. “I’ve prepared harder and am able to withstand all the running and being able to take a hit.”
The Cardinals return to action on Tuesday morning before taking part in the annual Kickoff Luncheon at the Marriott Downtown.