LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The first day in full pads wasn’t much different from the opening three days of practice for the University of Louisville football team. There wasn’t a whole lot of full contact, with the exception of some live tackling drills between the defensive secondary and the running backs and receivers.

Still, Cardinals’ head coach Bobby Petrino says he’s happy with the progress his team has made and the tone it has set with early workouts.

The team will get a break on Wednesday before practices ramp up a bit later in the week, but Petrino updated reporters on the first practices after a full-team session on Tuesday afternoon.

Five highlights from his comments.

1). PETRINO HAS FOCUSED ON THE LINES. The head coach didn’t watch the live tackling drills on Tuesday because his focus was on defensive line work. His focus, in fact, has been in the trenches a good bit.

“We've been doing a lot of one-on-one stuff with the O-line and D-line, and I think our technique is getting better,” he said. “I think it's something that we have to do with all the newness that we have on the defensive line. I've been impressed on the improvement we've made with our hips and our hands and our technique. I think it's helping the offensive line also.”

Offensive lineman Lukayus McNeil, when asked who is standing out on the defensive line, mentioned sophomore Jared Goldwire. Petrino said a number of the young players up front are picking up confidence.

“We were really happy when we signed (Goldwire),” he said. “We had to work extremely hard to get him. There were some late runs at him. And he got here and had a shoulder. But our medical staff did a good job of being really aggressive in getting the operation done right away. He missed all of spring. It's a tough operation, as far as it takes a long time to get back. But once you get back it's fixed and you're good to go. His strength started getting better all summer long. He's got great size and movement. So it's good to see him out there. Him and Mike Boykin are doing a really good job. Jarrett Jackson. You can see a real difference in Boykin and Jackson from spring to where they are now. And the same thing with (wideout) Tutu (Atwell). He's different than he was in spring. He's more confident. He's running things faster. Same with (freshman linebacker Robert) Hicks, (freshman cornerback) Chandler Jones. Those guys who were a little iffy and questionable with their confidence, now they're really competing to play.”

2). TREY SMITH STILL LEADS THE RUNNING BACK COMPETITION. Petrino said he’s been impressed with the speed of the incoming freshmen, but the experience of Smith still has him standing out among the backs, though Dae Williams is beginning to pick up more reps.

“Trey is doing a really good job. He's been solid,” Petrino said. “He understands what's going on. He's impressive in how he reads blocks and hugs the walls and does a really good job of running inside. I think Tobias Little has made great strides. He can do a lot of different things between catching the ball and blocking and running with it. Dae Williams, it's good to see him back out there and going. We held his reps a little bit the first two practices, but he got a bunch of reps yesterday and today and did a nice job. And Colin Wilson really shows the talent. We've got to get him in shape so he can go full speed all the time. He's always been a guy that sweats a lot, and hot days have always hampered his conditioning or his ability to go hard all the time. So that's something that we work on with our medical staff, to find different ways to keep him at full speed. The two young guys are impressive. They're really, really fast. Javian Hawkins is probably ahead of where I thought he would be. He's lightning fast. He can really hit the hole and go. He's really stood out with that. He can also run routes and catch the ball. And Hassan (Hall) has showed his speed, too. I'd like to see him pick up the offense a little quicker. But he really can go.”

3). PUMA PASS EARNED THE CAPTAIN’S TITLE. During team voting earlier in the week, Pass, along with McNeil, Dee Smith and Jonathan Greenard were elected team captains for the season. Though Pass has never started a game, Petrino said he’s not surprised that he garnered the votes.

“A lot of time the leadership kind of goes with the position of quarterback, but you've got to earn it, it's not just announced,” Petrino said. “And I think Jawon has earned that respect from his teammates by how hard he's worked, how competitive he is, how tough he is. They've just seen the way he takes over and takes charge. It's good to see Lukayus get voted in. And it wasn't a lot of close votes. The four guys just stood out as far as the amount of votes they got as compared to the other guys. Jonathan Greenard is doing a really good job, really trying to do what the coaches are asking him to do as far as leadership goes. Obviously his production is there. He's a really good player. And then I felt like going in that Dee Smith would be the other one. I wasn't really sure, but Dee got a bunch of votes from his teammates.”

4). ASSESSING PASS’ EARLY PRACTICES. While Petrino said Tuesday wasn’t necessarily his young quarterback’s best practice day, he likes what he has seen.

“Puma's done a good job,” he said. “. . . He's been really comfortable. He understands what we're asking him to do. I like the way he's been able to get the ball out of his hand quickly and accurately and I think our receivers and running backs are doing a good job of catching it and getting where they need to be. We're probably a little bit ahead of where we have been in our timing of the passing game, which is a good thing.”

5). PRAISE FOR SOPHOMORE COLE BENTLEY AT CENTER. You don’t get a lot of preseason talk about centers. That’s usually only reserved for when there’s a problem. But Petrino noted significant improvement from Bentley as the team headed into fall camp.

“There's no question he's improved,” Petrino said. “Cole's a really, really talented guy. He doesn't understand how talented he is. He's got the combination of great strength, flexibility and can really move. He's just still learning how good he can really be. But he spent a lot of time this summer really studying and working hard. The first meeting I ran with the offense I asked, 'OK, center, what's your call?' And I was really impressed with how hard Cole worked this summer studying because he was right on, he didn't hesitate and he was confident in making the calls. That was probably the best thing that could've happened in that first meeting, and it has carried over to the field.

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