The first scrimmage is typically the highlight of fall camp as it’s the first opportunity for the players to work their way up the depth chart and also breaks up the monotony of practice.
The University of Louisville football team held its 11th practice of the preseason, but conducted its first stadium scrimmage on Saturday morning.
Seventh-year head coach Bobby Petrino steered a 105-play scrimmage, which consisted of two 15-minute quarters and simulated all facets of a regular game, including having a play clock, kickoffs and punts, between the first- and second-team offenses versus second- and first-team defenses, respectively.
“I was impressed with a lot of things I saw,” Petrino said following Saturday’s scrimmage. “I think we are going to be able to run the ball. Lamar (Jackson) did a really good job of distributing the ball. … We were able to get all the receivers involved.”
The offense was explosive and efficient, scoring eight touchdowns during the two-hour practice, including five or more scoring plays of over 20 or more yards.
Senior Brandon Radcliff notched the first of his two touchdown runs — opening the scoring with a 19-yard scamper and also plowing in from four yards.
Senior wide receiver James Quick, who tallied two touchdowns, scored on a 41-yard pass from Lamar Jackson, and later scored on a 21-yard pass from the sophomore quarterback, which was good news for the Petrino, who was pleased with the Trinity High School product’s overall performance.
“He looked fast, caught the ball well, and made two really good runs after the catch,” Petrino said of Quick. “… I was really encouraged with the way he ran after the catch. He looked decisive, had more confidence, and got in the end zone twice on runs after the catch.”
Sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Smith scored from 28-yards out and Reggie Bonnafon also crossed the goal line from 21-yards out.
The highlights of the scrimmage were the play of Jackson and senior tight end Cole Hikutini, who was the top receiver. Jackson was 21-of-25 and tossed five touchdown throws. He had four incompletions included a drop, an intentional throw-away and two missed throws.
“He did really well today,” Hikutini said of Jackson’s performance. “His accuracy and timing were on point. We all played fast and were able to make a lot of big plays on offense.”
Hikutini, who averaged 18.3 yards a catch last year, bettered that on Saturday with a 20.0-yard per catch average and took advantage of mismatches in coverage.
“When I’m lined up against a linebacker, I try to get him with speed,” Hikutini stated, “and when I go up against a cornerback, I just try to bully him.”
While Jackson did stand out, the entire first-team offense racked up big yardage and didn’t turn the football over. With 10 starters returning on offense, Petrino thinks this group is better because they’re a veteran group.
“I just keep going back to last year,” Petrino said, “and these guys were out there and we might have had coaches telling them what the play was (intended to do). Now they know that.”
Petrino was equally pleased with the defense’s performance. The coach stated that the linemen pressured the quarterback and were able to do a good job tackling, especially in space.
Jonathan Greenard and Jaire Alexander were the team’s top tacklers, with defensive lineman Chris Williams leading the way with a pair of sacks.
Louisville will hold its third two-day practice of fall camp on Monday, with the first practice beginning at 9 a.m.
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