Another testament to Head Coach Bobby Petrino is his abililty to maximize every minute of practice. The Louisville assistants have proven that they can improve not only the units that they oversee, but also each individual player in such a short period.
The following is a few mental notes that I took during my return to the practice fields to observe the progression of the team.
After the first couple of practices it was obvious that Michael Bush had quite a bit of room for improvement. He was often overthrowing receivers who were more than 10 yards down field. Bush would also occassionally leave the pocket when it didn't seem neccessary. Stefan LeFors, who entered fall camp at #1 on the depth chart, continued to impress with both his arm and ability to escape the rush and create positive yardage. He also exhibited a great sense of leadership and team work, as he often assisted freshmen quarterbacks Bush, Eddie Miller and Preston Smith. Justin Rascati appeared to have the same problems as he did during spring and wasn't delivering the ball quick enough to the receivers.
Stefan LeFors (ITV)
After just a week, all have improved. LeFors, who I continue to list as the #1 quarterback, remains sharp in all areas. Bush has vastly improved his passing and pocket presence and Rascati appears to be delivering the ball on time more frequently.
While the running game was impressive before I left, it also delivered a few suprises when I returned. Lionel Gates and Eric Shelton still seem to be tied for the #1 spot, but true freshman Kolby Smith is proving that he is worthy of seeing playing time as well. Smith, who will probably see most of his action lined up as a fullback, wasn't the only surprise. Junior college walkon Brian Hall has continued to show that he has the talent to block, run and pass catch with confidence. Fullback D.J. Kamer continues to amaze me with his great knack for being a lead blocker.
Like the running backs, not any major surprises, as this unit is expected to be one of the strong areas for the 2003 Cardinals. Joshua Tinch has developed into a go-to receiver and could catch 100 balls this fall. While I can't recall any drops by Tinch, I can point out a number of amazing receptions that he has pulled in. J.R. Russell and Broderick Clark have both improved and are making impressive catches as well. True freshman Harry Douglas has proven to be the real deal and has great speed, hands and leaping ability.
The offensive line is a major concern for both the coaches and fans and while I won't be sure of its true improvement until August 31st, it is obvious that this unit has improved over last season and that its confidence has increased tremendously. The additions of Renardo Foster and Kurt Quarterman were key to much needed depth, with Foster quickly moving into the first unit.
Renardo Foster (ITV)