CRAWFORD | College Football Notebook: Louisville QBs, magic at UK, trouble for FSU
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — University of Louisville sophomore Reggie Bonnafon exited the spring with the upper hand in the Cardinals’ crowded quarterback competition, but by no means is anything settled.
Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino won’t take a quarterback to ACC Media Days, which begin at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina a week from today. U of L will be represented by defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins and linebacker James Burgess.
Bonnafon passed for 238 yards and ran for 37 more in just one half of action against the second-team defense to lead the Cardinals’ spring game. He’s added 15 pounds and says he’s more durable, and that he benefited from being thrown into the fire as a freshman.
But the U of L coaches will have a lot to look when camp begins — and don’t forget about last season’s other regular starter Will Gardner, who is coming off knee surgery but nearing 100 percent.
“Will looks healthy,” Petrino said before a charity appearance for Kosair Children’s Hospital’s “Play Smart, Eat Right” program on Saturday. “He’s running, he’s changing directions. The only thing they’re not letting him to do really is roll out and do things on the run full speed, unless it’s straight ahead. He’s strong. He feels good. He said it’s the best he’s felt since before he ever injured it. That’s good, and that’s good for his mindset. And obviously if he’s healthy and ready to go, he’s certainly going to be in the competition because he’s shown that he can go out there and make plays to help you win games.”
But he’s not the only one. Petrino said incoming freshman Lamar Jackson would get a hard look from coaches. The four-star signee from Boynton Beach High School in Florida stuck with the Cardinals despite a late recruiting pitch from Florida. Petrino called him “very impressive” in summer workouts.
“He’s a really, really good athlete,” Petrino said. “He’s big. I know he has a lot of confidence around the other players, so it’s good to see that. The other guys say he throws the ball real well, has a strong arm. It’ll be fun to see how it all plays out.”
Of course, Petrino has Tyler Ferguson, who sat out last season after transfering from Penn State, and Kyle Bolin, who led U of L to a comeback win over rival Kentucky in a relief role in the regular-season finale in 2014.
Petrino said he’d like to name a starter at least two weeks before U of L’s opener against Auburn on Sept. 5 in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic in the Georgia Dome.
Petrino said nothing has been decided. They do have a working idea of which quarterback is where, but nothing is determined.
“They first and foremost have to come in and be coachable and do what we want them to do,” he said. “Run the offense the way it’s designed and do what you want them to do. Get us out of bad plays and into good plays. Make good decisions, be able to execute after you’ve made a decision. So there’s a lot that entails.”
UK’S TOWLES TAKES HARRY POTTER FANDOM TO CATS’ PAUSE COVER
University of Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles says he really likes the Harry Potter series of books and movies. No, we mean he really likes them.
So much so that he donned a pair of Harry Potter-esque spectacles and a Gryffindor scarf for his cover shot for The Cats’ Pause annual football yearbook.
Towles told the magazine, “It’s a chance to show people that I’m a real person who likes what you guys like, who eats what you guys eat and does what you all do. It helps develop a sense of common ground. ‘Hey, he’s not really that far away,’ or, ‘He’s not really that different. He’s just one of us who happens to play football.’”
His passion is within limits. He hasn’t tried to take potions classes at UK. He’s not studying defense against the dark arts, though he will try to lead UK out of the Southeastern Conference darkness this season.
Towles said he’s read all seven of the Harry Potter books seven times and knows the movies by heart. He even said he’ll celebrate Potter’s fictional birthday on July 31.
“I love the magic part about it and how it’s really just kind of like a whole different world and stuff,” he told the magazine. “Granted, I know it’s not reality and it’s never going to happen, but it’s a fun thing to play around with.”
Towles will not get to regale the SEC media with tales from the Wildcats’ Common Room. UK coach Mark Stoops will take nose guard Melvin Lewis, tackle Jordan Swindle and safety A.J. Stamps to SEC Media Days this week.
The Cats’ Pause yearbook is available on newsstands now.
REPORT: FLORIDA STATE BANS PLAYERS FROM BARS
In the wake of a second incident of a football player being accused of hitting a female in a matter of days, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher reportedly has banned Seminole players from local bars, according to a Twitter post by the Tallahassee Democrat.
Fisher was quick to issue a statement after running back Dalvin Cook was charged with misdemeanor batter for allegedly punching a 21-year-old woman in the face several times following an argument outside a bar last month.
That incident occurred a night before quarterback De’Andre Johnson was caught on video punching a woman at a bar. Johnson was dismissed from the program. Cook as been suspended indefinitely.
“Recent events at Florida State University involving members of my football team have brought a lot of attention to the school and program. It is important to me that our fans and the public be aware that I do not tolerate the type of behavior that was captured on video and that was most recently alleged,” Fisher said in a statement Friday. “We spend a good deal of time educating our student-athletes about appropriate behavior and their responsibilities as representatives of Florida State. The majority of our players are exemplary, but clearly we must place an even stronger emphasis on this, and I personally promise we will. I remain committed to educating our young men and holding them accountable for their actions.”
In his own statement, FSU president John Thrasher said: “I have asked Coach Fisher and Athletics Director Stan Wilcox to develop a plan to help our student-athletes understand the consequences of these kinds of actions. This will include Coach Fisher meeting immediately with his team to reiterate, in no uncertain terms, our expectations of them.”
Cook, who is 19, wouldn’t have been allowed into a bar in Florida anyway, but Fisher, apparently, felt a stronger message was needed after a pair of high-profile incidents.
ALABAMA, FLORIDA STATE AGREE TO 2017 OPENER
The Peach Bowl announced via Twitter this week that Alabama and Florida State have agreed to play each other in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic in 2017. It will be the first regular-season college game played in the Atlanta Falcons’ new Atlanta Stadium.
It’s a matchup fans have wanted to see. Alabama has two recent national titles and Florida State one.
“With two teams of this caliber, it really is going to be a bowl-game type atmosphere and an epic celebration of college football,” said Percy Vaughn, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl chairman.
“These teams represent the best in our sport,” said Gary Stokan, Peach Bowl, Inc. president and CEO. “The best players, the best coaches, the best fans. It’s going to be a memorable start to the season and there is no better place to host this than in Atlanta, the capital of college football.”
“This is a great opportunity to open the 2017 season against an outstanding Florida State program,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Jimbo has done an excellent job there and this will provide a great challenge for our team. Having this game first on the schedule will give our players plenty to look forward to and prepare for in the offseason.”
Said Fisher: “We are very excited to be opening the 2017 season against Alabama at the new Falcons stadium in Atlanta. Scheduling top non-conference opponents is critical in today’s day and age. These are two great football programs and there will be a tremendous atmosphere. It’s a great matchup for our fans and for college football. We are looking forward to the opportunity.”
WKU GETS NATIONAL THURSDAY-NIGHT GAMES TO OPEN SEASON
Western Kentucky University head coach Jeff Brohm is taking a page out of the Louisville playbook when it comes to looking for as high a profile opener as he can get — and when it comes to a willingness to play on weeknights.
WKU will open the season at Vanderbilt on Sept. 3 at Vanderbilt in a game televised by the SEC Network. A week later the Hilltoppers will open home and conference play on a Thursday night against Louisiana Tech on Fox Sports 1.
“We’re excited about it,” Brohm told the Bowling Green Daily News at an alumni event in Louisville two weeks ago. “It’s a great thing for our university and our program to play the first game of the year on national TV against an SEC opponent at their place. That’s the exposure that we’re looking for because that’s the chance to show what we’re made of. . . . To be on national TV in that scenario is outstanding for us.”
The Hilltoppers also have an Oct. 24 date at LSU that figures to be picked up by one of the ESPN Networks.
Quarterback Brandon Doughty was named to the Maxwell Award Watch List last week. The award is given annually to college football’s player of the year.
THE LIST: LET THEM EAT (CUP)CAKE
Everybody loves to rank the best of things. The ‘Book would like to give 24/7 Sports some love for ranking the worst of something. Here is its list of worst non-conference matchups for the 2015 season. Do not enjoy:
15. Incarnate Word at UTEP
14. Alabama A&M at Cincinnati
13. Weber State at Oregon State
12. Southeast Missouri State at Missouri
11. Elon at Wake Forest
10. Howard at Boston College
9. Western Carolina at Tennessee
8. Western Carolina at Texas A&M
7. The Citadel at South Carolina
6. Rhode Island at Syracuse
5. Charleston Southern at Alabama
4. Austin Peay at Vanderbilt
3. Savannah State at Colorado State
2. Lamar at Baylor
1. Nicholls State at Colorado
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