(Courtesy: UofL Athletics) LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The loud cheers coming out of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium this morning were not from all the touchdowns scored in the second scrimmage of fall camp, but from the joy of the University of Louisville football players realizing that the grind of camp was over.
With classes officially starting on Monday, the Cardinals completed camp with a 145-play scrimmage under intense heat on the field -- and from Mother Nature.
“It was the last official practice of camp,” head coach Bobby Petrino said. “I think the players are excited about that. Overall, I thought it was a real good camp. Our players did a good job of focusing on learning and getting better individually.”
The Cardinals, who wrapped up practice No. 19, went with the first units against the second groups in a controlled scrimmage on Saturday morning.
Simulating game-like conditions, the staff was off the field to allow the players to focus without coaches in the huddle, and the teams played with running clocks.
The offense made a number of big plays down the field, with wide receivers Seth Dawkins and Jaylen Smith recording long receptions, and the running backs were also productive in the passing game.
“I thought Seth Dawkins and Jaylen Smith had big days,” Petrino said. “They both caught the ball well. It was Seth’s best day of camp. He elevated and made catches up high. He ran well after the catch, as did Jaylen.”
Junior quarterback Lamar Jackson was accurate in the intermediate passing game and with his deep throwing touch. He connected with a variety of receivers, and was explosive in the running game.
“Lamar had a really good day,” Petrino said. “He was on his progression reads real well. He had some patience and dumped the ball off. If we can do that, it will open things up for us in the passing game.”
With all the focus put on Jackson, Petrino said that redshirt freshman Jawon Pass performed well and is ready to contribute if called upon.
“Jawon has had a really good camp,” Petrino said. “He is really improved from a year ago, and really understands what is going on. I have a lot of confidence in him and he really knows the offense.”
On defense, the eighth-year head coach was happy with his first unit and is especially pleased with some of the depth that’s being built over the course of camp.
“It was our best scrimmage on defense,” Petrino said. “We were stout against the run. I thought we ran faster and full speed to the ball, but more importantly, we tackled a lot better.”
With two weeks left before the opener, the Petrino is confident that his team is where it needs to be from a preparation standpoint.
“I think we have done a good job of getting done what we need to get done,” Petrino said. “I feel good about where we are on special teams at this point. With the new rules, we have been able to spend some more time on special teams during our walk-throughs. We have taken some time at night to work on some special things.”
The Cardinals will take the next couple of days off before returning to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon.