This year marked the first spring game at night and the University of Louisville could not have asked for a better night to hold it. It had the look and feel of an autumn football night at PaPa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The tents, barbeques smoking, and people tailgating were an awesome sight. Then to walk out on the field with the players and coaches preparing like a game was almost too much. The first unit played the second unit and the one’s showed some offensive power. I would have to say that Stefan LeFors and Eric Shelton came out of spring with the lead at their respective spots.
QB – It’s been a battle all spring. Throughout the spring I rated Justin Rascati two wins and Stefan LeFors with two as well, with one tie. So to look at the scorecard it looked like a draw, but after the spring game I would have to give the TKO to LeFors. However, I look for the competition to be even better this fall, when we add that one guy, ummm I think his name is Michael Bush.
LeFors was 18-26 for 286-yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Rascati finished the day completing 10 of 18 for 155-yards, a touchdown with no interceptions. LeFors showed his ability to escape and he showed better accuracy, especially down field. Rascati did have to play with the second unit most of the night, but I still believe that LeFors had a better overall night.
RB – I believe Eric Shelton put some distance between him and the rest of running backs. He ran with power, speed and agility. I had the chance to talk to Michael Brown during the 1st half and he said he hated to tackle Shelton during practices last fall. Shelton had 15 rushes for 121-yards and a touchdown. His longest run was 44 yards. It should be illegal to be that big and that fast. Lionel Gates ran very well himself, but just could not match Eric Shelton on this night. T.J. Patterson ran much better but still is low on the depth chart. Fullback D.J. Kamer had some great blocks. In fact, he was the key block for a couple of big runs that would have been stopped for minimal gain had he not opened a hole.
WR – Depth is the key word here. Broderick Clark finally stepped up and may have put himself into a starting spot going into fall. Clark finished with 5 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns. It was the yards after the catch that was the most impressive. J.R. Russell finished with 6 receptions for 58 yards, while Joshua Tinch had 3 catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.
TE – With the two main tight ends, in Ronnie Ghent and Richard Owens, watching from the sidelines, Chad Jorgenson showed his ability to get open and make some solid catches. He only had 2 catches, but it was for 46 yards. The depth at this position will be great this fall.
OL – Travis Leffew, Jason Spitz, Dan Koons, Jason Hilliard and Jerry Spencer are the starters going into fall ball and they are doing a very good job pass and run blocking. Shelton and Gates had holes to run though and LeFors and Rascati had time to throw the ball. With the addition of Will Rabatin and Kurt Quarterman this fall U of L will have the making of a solid depth chart. Renardo Foster, Michael Sturgeon, Jon Scarborough are all quality backups that will be trying to take a starting spot this fall.
DL – Bobby Leffew, Tyrone Saterfield, Scott Lopez and Marcus Jones are the starters as of now, but Elvis Dumervil, Jeremy Segiun, Montavious Stanley and Brian Devine are pushing them for playing time. Stanley has had a great spring and I would be surprised if he stays on the second unit. Dumervil is a playmaker. He has exhibited great speed and is very good on the pass rush. Saterfield has stepped his game up and I expect him to make a big impact this season. Leffew is so versatile; he can play either on the end or at the tackle position. I expect the coaching staff to move him to keep the opposing offensive line’s confused.
LB – With this group we have flies all over the field. Robert McCune (Hammer), Rod Day and Brandon Johnson are all speedy linebackers that can cover receivers and help plug the running lanes. Antwan Cardoza, Jonathon Jackerson, James Jackson and James Greene all do a good job in the backup roll.
DB – This is a spot I had concern coming into spring, but not any more. Kerry Rhodes and Brent Johnson have shown they can play the safety spots. Both are hard hitters and cover well. Josh Minkins and Laroni Gallishaw have both made great strides this spring and they are doing a very good job with one-on-one coverage. All are going up against as good as receivers they will see in a game. J.T. Haskins has shown he wants to play and continues to be impressive, showing that he has very good closing speed. Gavin Smart is still learning the spot after being moved from wide receiver. Abe Brown is pushing the one’s for a spot at safety. I still think we will see a couple of the true freshmen come in this fall and get some playing time.
With an announced crowd of 8,500, the University of Louisville made a great move to have the game on a Friday night. The weather was perfect and the crowd got into the game and even booed the referee’s a few times. I also thought the awards ceremony; with former Cardinal greats giving the outgoing seniors their jerseys was also a great idea. Now we have a new football staff, new uniforms and by the first game a new playing surface. It’s going to be fun watching, what I call, an offensive machine that Coach Petrino will put together.
You can review the entire spring session by visiting ITV's Spring Guide