LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville makes its debut in the ACC in just a few months, so we decided to check in on the Cardinals to see how they are doing this spring with a new coaching staff. Here are a few observations from open practice Wednesday:
1. Hustle, hustle, hustle! One of the most noticeable changes is the way Louisville runs its practices under coach Bobby Petrino. Not one second is allowed to be wasted, as Petrino wants both the offense and defense practicing at a high tempo. "Hustle up!" was yelled every single time a play ended, as players were encouraged to get lined back up as quickly as possible. At one point, when the offensive players could not get aligned properly, they were told they did not have the time to waste. With new offensive and defensive schemes getting installed, there is not a second to lose.
That brings me to the next point. Because the schemes are still unfamiliar to the players, a lot of drills and plays had to be run over and over again. Several players continued to make the same mistakes and had to keep running the drills until they got them down. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, a fiery personality just like Petrino, did not hold back his anger when players failed to execute plays properly. The first spring with a new staff always proves to be most challenging.
2. QB race. Will Gardner has emerged as the leader to win the starting quarterback job, and you can see why during practice. He has the best arm, and he was the most accurate during practice Wednesday. Still, the offense is much more complicated to learn than it was under former coach Charlie Strong, so there is a steep learning curve in a short period of time. For his part, Gardner has embraced the new offense and knows he has plenty of playmakers around to help him out. DeVante Parker looks ready for a huge season. Gerald Christian could be poised for a breakout year too, given the way Petrino likes to utilize the tight end.
3. Standouts. Keep an eye on true freshman running back L.J. Scott, an early enrollee out of Marion, Ohio. Scott made plays all over the field throughout the 2½-hour practice. Every time I looked up, he was making another play. He has good hands, so he can be very valuable as a receiver out of the backfield as well. He should definitely have an opportunity to play right away. Junior college transfer Trevon Young made some plays along the defensive front, and B.J. Dubose stood out, too. One other player to watch on offense -- former Tennessee transfer Matt Milton. He never got much of a shot under Strong but has made the most of his second opportunity with the new staff. At 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, he and the 6-3, 209-pound Parker could provide matchup problems for opposing defenses in the fall.