BOZICH | For Louisville, it will take a village to replace DeVan - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | For Louisville, it will take a village to replace DeVante Parker

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Louisville receivers coach Lamar Thomas said freshmen are in the mix to replace DeVante Parker. Louisville receivers coach Lamar Thomas said freshmen are in the mix to replace DeVante Parker.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – This is how many passing yards per game the University of Louisville averaged last season during the seven games that DeVante Parker missed with a broken foot: 229.

Most of that was against the user friendly portion of the U of L schedule.

This is how many passing yards the Cardinals averaged during the six games Parker played: 279.

Three of Louisville’s four highest passing yardage totals came with Parker in the lineup – against Florida State, Kentucky and Georgia. Parker’s yards per game average of 122 was more than double any teammate.

This is the question that U of L receivers coach Lamar Thomas as well as receiver James Quick face nearly every time they’re asked about the Cardinals’ offense:

How is this team going to replace Parker, a guy taken with the 14th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by Miami?

“Whew,” Thomas said, following the team’s practice Friday morning. “To replace a DeVante Parker, it takes a group. That one guy was a very special guy. But I think in time these guys will develop into their own DeVante Parkers.”

“It’s going to take everybody,” said Quick. “We’re going to need every receiver we have on our roster to replace DeVante Parker. And that’s not a problem because we have the guys to do it.”

That is what Auburn, Houston and Clemson will make the Cardinals prove in the first three games.

Parker missed more than half the 2014 season and still led the Cardinals in receiving yardage by nearly 300 yards. Think about that.

There’s more: Quick is the only guy on the roster who caught more than nine balls in 2014. Five of the top six receivers are gone.

That’s the way it works in college sports. U of L must replace Parker just the way the program needed to replace Teddy Bridgewater, Eric Wood, Elvis Dumervil and other splendid players who have worked their way through the program.

That’s College Football 101. It creates the joy of watching young guys emerge – or veterans play like nobody can stop them.

Quick caught 36 passes last season. His yards per catch average of 15.7 ranked second to only to guess who? With his speed and one season in coach Bobby Petrino’s offense, Quick seems capable of contributing more.

Quick has been moved inside to slot receiver. The concept is a reasonable one: To help Quick use his sprinter’s speed to flash away from slower linebackers and safeties.

“James, his problem is that sometimes he’s so fast,” Thomas said. “He wants to continue to run before he gets the ball.

“I think he’s made a conscious effort this summer to get better at that. He’s done a great job. He’s a guy that loves to practice. He goes 100 percent. Never complains. He’s a joy to coach.”

Petrino also mentioned Quick’s habit of starting to run before he has secured the football when the coach spoke at U of L media day last Saturday. Quick does not dispute the problem. He said that he has dropped several balls in practice this week. He knows he must improve.

Plenty of playing time is available for anybody who can impress Petrino, Thomas and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee.

Cole Hikutini will press veterans Charles Stanberry and Keith Towbridge for snaps at tight end. Six young wide receivers have joined the program. Thomas said that he is prepared to use, and not redshirt, anybody who proves the belongs on the field.

“What I’ve said to the younger guys who are going to get their opportunities is, ‘Buckle up. Be ready.’ “Thomas said.

“A lot of these kids are getting baptism by fire. In high school they didn’t get yelled at that much. They probably let things slide a little bit. But to make them better, they have to be able to expect and understand that you’re going to get constructive criticism.

“With any step that you take up, whether it’s going from Little League to high school, from high school to college, from college to the pros, it’s faster. Everything is happening a lot faster. And the competition is a lot better. They have to learn that the way they did things in high school, they’ve got to throw that out the window. You’ve got to turn it up a little bit.”

For Louisville, it will take a village to replace DeVante Parker.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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