LOUISVILLE, Ky. --- As the AP preseason poll was released around 10 o'clock in the morning Saturday, revealing Louisville's #9 ranking, the Cardinals were conducting their 2nd live tackling scrimmage on their outdoor practice field. The scrimmage went for a little more than two hours and was closed.
Here are some of the updates and highlights from that scrimmage, after post-scrimmage interviews:
Format: The first team offense went against the second team defense and vice versa, with an officiating crew present. No score was kept, and it was mostly situational. "Today we did four minutes, instead of two minutes, where the offense needed to milk the clock if they were up," said defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin. "The first team defense pretty much stopped the (2nd team) offense most of the time."
WR DeVante Parker - It was clear after talking to head coach Charlie Strong and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater after the scrimmage that if there was an MVP Saturday, it was UofL's #1 wide receiver, DeVante Parker. Bridgewater said Parker scored three touchdowns, including one where he went up and over a defensive back to snag a highlight real score. "He's Spiderman. He's got those sticky hands," said linebacker George Durant about Parker.
Running Back Battle - Senorise Perry (ACL recovery) did not participate in the scrimmage as a precaution. Strong said Perry has not suffered a setback. Strong also said the other four running backs (Dominique Brown, Michael Dyer, Corvin Lamb, and Brandon Radcliff) rotated with the first team but then proceeded not to mention Radcliff after naming Brown, Dyer, and Lamb.
Yes, Strong said Dyer is getting reps with the first team at this point, something he wasn't doing at the start of camp. However, when asked which RB has stood out to him, Teddy Bridgewater only mentioned Dominique Brown, praising his pass protection in particular.
"Dominique Brown, he's been phenomenal, whether it's protecting the quarterback in the passing game or running the ball" Bridgewater said, when asked which running back has impressed him. "Even in the passing game, getting out and catching the ball, he been just exceptional."
I'd say that's nothing short of a ringing endorsement for Brown at RB by the Cardinals' Heisman candidate.
Linebacker George Durant said the same about Brown's superior pass protection compared to Dyer, without specifically being asked about Brown's pass protection. Durant did also say as a runner though, Dyer "is coming along very quickly" and is a tough, downhill runner that is hard to bring down.
When asked if he will incorporate a similar two-back rotation, as he did last year with Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry, Charlie Strong said the Cards will go with the hot hand in games, if one back is playing well. Strong did also say though he could play more than two running backs, depending on the game situation. "However many we need to play, we'll play."
Quarterbacks - Strong said Teddy Bridgewater was good in Saturday's scrimmage. Shocker... At the back-up QB spot, Will Gardner is practicing well. "Just from spring to now, (Gardner's) made a giant improvement," said Strong. "It's fun to watch him now have total command of the offense."
Right Tackle Battle - When asked if Ryan Mack had won the right tackle starting spot over Abraham "Nacho" Garcia, Strong would not confirm that. He said he still has two weeks before the opener against Ohio to make that decision and said Garcia did rotate with Mack on the first team. Garcia had been banged up earlier this week, after being spotted with his left arm in a sling. Mack received extra first team reps in his absence. Also, when asked if Strong is getting any more clarity on the 2nd team offensive line, the first name he mentioned was Garcia getting back...getting back to the 2nd team.
"Our first team offensive line did a really good job of protecting," - Charlie Strong.
As for the rest of the offensive line, Lorenzo Mauldin said the coaches put some freshmen on the 2nd team O-line at times to see how they'd fare. Mauldin's assessment? "They need to learn more." Strong said they plugged in some freshmen because Louisville has some injuries on the 2nd team O-line.
Defensive Line - That 2nd team offensive line did face the first team defensive line. It's a unit Strong said "just dominated" today.
Cornerback Battle - Charlie Strong said Charles Gaines did not participate in Saturday's scrimmage. He did not say whether it was due to injury. Gaines has had a good camp after converting from wide receiver, leading the Louisville secondary in interceptions as of Thursday. With Gaines out, Strong said Terell Floyd, Jermaine Reve, and Andrew Johnson are rotating at corner. It's hard to believe Floyd will not get one of those corner spots, after finishing 2012 strong.
"We're playing a lot faster at the cornerback position," Lorenzo Mauldin replied, when asked about the battle at corner. "Last year we had a lot of trouble with guys being able to keep up with the receivers. Now, we're playing a lot of pressure."
Safety - Like DeVante Parker, when asked who stood out on defense, Charlie Strong said free safety Calvin Pryor. "He had some big hits and made some plays."
Special Teams - Charlie Strong praised John Wallace on his field goal and extra point kicking and Ryan Johnson on his punting. Those are likely UofL's starting specialists.