With two weeks remaining until the University of Louisville football team takes the field for the 2018 season opener versus Alabama on Sept. 1, the Cardinals conducted their final major tune-up on Saturday morning at Cardinal Stadium.
Head coach Bobby Petrino’s team ran approximately 150 plays, in a match-up that featured battles with best-on-best in the controlled-scrimmage under partly cloudy skies and humid temperatures.
Petrino alluded at the annual Kickoff Luncheon on Friday that the scrimmage would be an important day for a number of remaining position battles heading into the opener in Orlando, Fla, and there were a number on display on Saturday.
One of the battles the coaches looked at was the offensive line, where most of the unit is set, but offensive line coach Mike Summers continues to build depth and finish out the starting five.
“We feel pretty comfortable about a couple of spots on the offensive line, and we feel like some guys have nailed down spots, Summers said. “There is always going to be flexibility with positions in that group. We’ve seen guys who bounced around who moved on the offensive line, so we always give guys reps at different positions.”
The offense showed glimpses of matching up at times with last year’s unit that was one of the top five in the country in total offense. However, with Lamar Jackson gone to the National Football League, offense line coach Mike Summers believes the team continues to be stacked with playmakers.
“All of those pieces are there, so what you do when you’re a really talented head coach and offensive coordinator, you structure the offense to fit the players that you have, and coach does a great job of that,” Summers said. “That’s what this offense will be. It’ll be structured around getting the ball to our best players that can make plays.”
The offense moved the football early in the scrimmage, but had its issues putting the ball into the end zone, settling for a number of short field goals, which pleased first-year defense coordinator Brian VanGorder.
“That’s part of becoming a good defense, keeping them out of the end zone, forcing field goals. So we’ll play that as a positive the best we can,” VanGorder said. “
In the scrimmage, the defense gave up a few big plays and a number of sustained drives, which is too be expected, but VanGorder came out of Saturday’s scrimmage encouraged with that’s unit development from Monday’s first scrimmage.
“I saw some better things overall,” VanGorder said, “but the mark of inconsistency, still, we battle. They moved the ball early on us, but I thought we took a step forward today. It comes down to effort and execution, and I thought they were more focused.”
Added Summers, “I thought we came out maybe a little bit (out of) sync at the start,” I think the defense was really playing hard and doing a good job at the start of the scrimmage, and we were just missing on a few plays. We were on the edge on some blocks. We were missing on a few pass plays.”
Summers said the offense clicked more in the second half of the scrimmage, producing some long touchdown drives.
“We drove down the field on some long drives, but had to settle for some field goals instead of touchdowns. We weren’t hitting on all cylinders early, but thought the guys played with a lot of energy in the second half, and I was proud how we came back and got back into our execution.”
The Cardinals will take Sunday off before beginning classes on Monday, and hitting the practice field later that afternoon.