Work for the 2018 University of Louisville football season starts Tuesday afternoon, when head coach Bobby Petrino and the Cardinals hit the field for the start of spring practice.
The Cardinals will conduct 14 practices before taking the field for the annual Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Spring Game in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on April 14 at 1 p.m.
The Cardinals hit the field Tuesday and Wednesday, starting at 3:50 p.m.
“I’m excited to get out on the field for the start of practice,” Petrino said. “We had a lot of guys put up tremendous numbers during testing week, and I’m looking forward to see how that translates on to the field for the beginning of practice.”
For the first time in two seasons, the Cardinals will have a new quarterback under center as Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson declared early for the National Football League Draft.
Sophomore Jawon Pass, who played in six games last season, has been named the starter for spring practice. Petrino likes that he’s already earned the respect of the entire team, as he takes over for one of the greatest players in Louisville history.
“Jawon has tremendous respect from his teammates,” Petrino said. “He has enough self-confidence and belief in his himself to go out there and perform.”
Coming off the bench a year ago, Pass went 23 of 33 for 238 yards and a pair of scores, completing an impressive 69.6 percent of his throws. In his second career game, Pass went 14 of 19 for 115 yards and one score in a 55-10 win over Murray State. He tossed his first career score when he hit Javonte Bagley for a 14-yard touchdown.
“I want to see Jawon be a little more urgent – he’s a laid-back guy,” Petrino said. “He needs to walk to the huddle a little faster. He’s very intelligent and really knows the game. He needs to just relax and play.”
While the Cardinals were one of the most explosive teams on offense last season, it’s the defensive side of the ball where most of the focus will be this spring. Petrino brought in a new defensive coordinator with the hiring of Brian VanGorder, one of the most experienced coaches on staff. The former defensive coordinator at Notre Dame brings over 30 years of experience between college and the NFL.
“It’s been good,” Petrino said of VanGorder’s transition with the players. “Brian’s a real teacher and really wants everything done detailed. It’s been really good for our players. I’ve been impressed with how the players have responded to him.”
Hitting the field for the first time, the Cardinals welcome eight newcomers to the squad as early enrollees and each will make their debut for the Cardinals at Tuesday’s first practice.
Wide receivers TuTu Atwell and Jatavious Harris, cornerback Chandler Jones, defensive linemen Michael Boykins, Jared Goldwire and Jarrett Jackson, and linebackers Robert Hicks and Quen Head will look to impress the coaching staff with their ability and pick up the new schemes.
“I’m excited to see how the new guys come in and compete,” Petrino said. “They’ve all come in and done a good job adjusting to college football. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out for them this spring.”