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The University of Louisville football team hit the practice field on Wednesday afternoon, continuing their preparation for their impending home meeting with ACC foe Wake Forest on Saturday. The game will mark the first home game for the Cardinals since their 66-21 win over Murray State three weeks ago, on Sept. 6. 

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and senior defensive back Terell Floyd spoke with the media after practice, previewing Wake Forest, and taking the time to answer questions about the team's preparation and a handful of other topics.

 

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Wake Forest will mark the Cardinals' third ACC game of the season. The Cardinals opened with a 31-13 victory over Miami on Sept. 1, and dropped a 23-21 decision to Virginia two weeks ago. As does every opponent on the schedule, the Demon Deacons (2-2 overall; 0-0 ACC) will pose a new task for the Louisville defense- namely a fast-paced offense that features a dual-threat quarterback, something the Cards have yet to see.

  "Like with most college teams, they're a tempo team," Grantham said of Wake's offense. "With the read zone stuff, you've got a quarterback who can run it a well as hand it off, so you've got to be disciplined there."   For third time this season, the Cardinals will face a true freshman quarterback, in the Deacons' Wolford. Wolford has both struggled and excelled in spots this season, passing for 883 yard and six scores through four games, but also tossing seven interceptions.

 

Preparing for a quarterback with only four games of film creates a limited sample size for opposing defenses. But it's a challenge that Grantham says the team has adjusted to through the early part of the season.

 "You don't have as much tape to watch guys and that kind of thing," Grantham said of facing a newcomer. "And generally speaking, those guys are really trying to build as the season goes with what they're doing so you always see things added each week, whereas a guy who's a little bit older, you can go back on some tape and see things."

 For Grantham, though, the success or failure of the Cardinals in this familiar situation rides on the team's execution.

 "So again, really, it kind of goes back to us and how we play and what we do. That needs to be the focus- us doing our job and taking care of our business."

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Grantham also took time to talk about two Cardinals who have helped the defense thrive through the first four games: defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin and safety Gerod Holliman.

 In his first year in Grantham's 3-4 defense, Mauldin has transitioned seamlessly from his traditional role as a pass-rusher to his new duty as an outside linebacker. Through four games, Mauldin has collected 18 tackles, the team's second-highest total. The senior wrecked havoc in last weekend's 34-3 victory at Florida International, making a season-high three tackles for loss.

 Grantham attributed Mauldin's early-season success to his physical ability, and also noted that Lozo's impact has stretched far beyond the stat-sheet.

 "I think first of all, he's made the play [as] outside linebacker in our system. When you look at a guy with his length, his burst off the ball, his athletic ability, he can do a lot of things. Not only rush, but he can drop. He can also attract blockers to free other people up," Grantham said.

 "In the game Saturday, he didn't necessarily have a sack but he (caused) two penalties that really were negative 10 yards (that) if they hadn't held him, he would've gotten the sack. And he really forced a couple other guys to get sacks, so he's affected the game. When you've got a guy like that, people are always going to try to find ways to take him out of the game."

 As for Holliman, who currently holds a nation-leading five interceptions on the season, Grantham had much praise, especially for his ability to do everything required of a complete safety.

 "He does a good job of route reading, anticipating plays on the routes. He can make plays on the ball. You know, being a safety, you've got to be able to tackle. He's done a good job of tackling. And he's a physical player. Sometimes on his route reads, he may not have been able to get there to make the pick, but he slides the ball from the receiver and forces it to be an incomplete pass or a fumble."

 With back-to-back games with two interceptions, it's apparent that Holliman is a natural playmaker- a rare attribute that Grantham says he won't detract from. Luckily for the Cards, Holliman will continue to have the green light to go get the football.

 "I don't like to coach robots at any position. It's kind of like parenting. You've kind of got to give them the boundaries, but then they've got to make the decision," Grantham said.

 "My coaching philosophy has always been to try to give guys the freedom to make the plays within the framework of the defense, understand the boundaries, and as long as guys continue to make good choices, then you continue with those guidelines."

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Alongside Holliman, Terell Floyd and the team's stable of defensive backs have helped the Cardinals once again establish themselves as one of the nation's stingiest defenses. The duo, along with cornerbacks Charles Gaines and Andrew Johnson and safety James Sample, have led a Louisville secondary that has allowed opponents to pass for just 178.2 yards per game and has snagged seven interceptions.

 "I'm not surprised at all at how well we're playing," Floyd said Wednesday. "I expected this because we've got a lot of talented guys in the secondary, so I feel like I expected us to play this well right now."

 Floyd did mention, though, that he believes the defensive backfield is still in need of some improvement.

 "I also think we need improvement to get better," Floyd added, before listing a few areas in which the group could afford growth. "Technique. Film study. Just little things that we do."

 Picking off the opposing quarterback at least once in every game, the Cardinal secondary has produced an output that any coach or fan would be pleased with through the early stretch. Floyd & Co. will have their next go on Saturday in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.

Sophomore wide receiver James Quick has been inserted into the role of punt returner, and it has been well received. Quick has totaled 98 yards in the last two games, picking up 67 yards in the win over FIU last Saturday.

"At first, I was a little nervous returning punts," Quick said. "I never had a chance to return punts in high school. This was my first time returning punts in college. It was a fun experience going and putting the ball in my hands."

 On the offensive side, Quick was just as productive, accounting for 231 all-purpose yards.

 Quick also made the longest play from scrimmage this season when he caught a 74-yard pass from Will Gardner and scored a touchdown to put the Cardinals ahead 21-0. The product of Trinity High totaled 174 yards receiving, which was the most by a Cardinal receiver since Harry Douglas recorded over 200 yards versus Syracuse in 2007.

 "He really made a great play on the ball," head coach Bobby Petrino said. "That's something we've been looking for a working hard at, so it was good to see it show up in the game."

 

 

 Safety Gerod Holliman has been named the ACC Defensive Back of the Week after his performance in Louisville's 34-3 win over FIU last Saturday.

 Making his first collegiate start, Holliman collected two interceptions in the win over FIU, returning one 32 yards in the second quarter to give the Cardinals a 14-0 lead. He would add another interception on the next possession to set up another score.

 A native of Miami, Fla., Holliman leads the nation in interceptions with five this season, which matches Charles Gaines' team-leading total from last season.

 "I think Holliman has done a really nice job of studying, understanding what passing routes we're going to see, having enough confidence when he sees it to not hesitate and go make a play," said Petrino. "I think that's, when you look at some of our things on offense is, sometimes you see it, you don't have enough confidence to go do it. That's what he's doing. He sees it, he's practiced it, now he's got enough confidence that he goes and makes the play."

 

 

Pio Vatuvei has made a quick transition to the Louisville defense. The junior-college transfer has started the last three games and is creating havoc upfront. Vatuvei has six tackles and one sack this year this year, but is taking on blockers to create opportunities for the linebackers. But the amazing thing is, Vatuvei arrived on campus on Aug. 4, but he hasn't missed a beat on one of the nation's top defenses. 

"Just took it day by day. When I was recruited here they told me they wanted me to be a big part of defense. I didn't know which way until I came here so just took it day by day; learned the play book, learned to scheme. Players especially, learned from them as well, so it really was a good transition for me."

 

 

 

 

 

FB: Cards Turn Focus to FIU; Washington Makes Impact

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The University of Louisville football team wrapped their second practice of the week on Wednesday evening. The Cardinals will looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season, which they suffered at the hands of new ACC foe Virginia by a score of 23-21. The Cards will try to avenge that loss when they travel to Miami to take on Florida International.

Looking to move forward, much of the discussion this week for the Cardinals' coaching staff has been about the impending meeting with the Panthers. At his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon, head coach Bobby Petrino talked about the opportunity ahead.

"A lot of guys will go down and get to play in front of their family and friends and fans," Petrino said, making reference to the fact that more than 20 Cardinals are from the state of Florida, 14 of whom from Miami specifically.

"What we have to do is make sure we stay focused. We need to understand much like the Miami game that this is a new season, new team."

 Staying locked in will be key for the team as they take on the Panthers. The Cardinals routed FIU early last season, posting a 72-0 shutout in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. But this is a new edition of the Panthers, a squad that defeated Wagner 34-3 in week two, and one that jumped ahead of Pittsburgh by 16 points last week before a Pitt comeback.

 "We get to watch them on video against Pittsburgh where they played very well. They played tough and made plays offensively, created havoc at times with their defense against Pittsburgh's offense," Petrino said. 

 "I think that will help us get very motivated. But the biggest thing is we have to enjoy the process and enjoy the process of preparing for the game from the meetings tomorrow, to practice tomorrow, and really just focus on that right now. That will help us win the game more than anything."

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Safeties coach Greg Brown took time to talk to the media on Wednesday evening, specifically to chat about his designated group- a unit that has shined particularly bright through the first three weeks of the season. Despite the solid play of Terell Floyd, Gerod Holliman, and James Sample, Brown insists there is still much work to be done.

"It's only been three weeks, and it's long way to go. Our guys have to continue to improve," Brown said. "You're either getting better or you're getting worse. Our guys have got to continue to get better, they've got to work hard in practice."

Brown was also asked specifically about the play of redshirt sophomore Gerod Holliman. Holliman, a Miami native, had a career game against Virginia, totaling six tackles and grabbing two interceptions.

"He had a good game," Brown said. "He works hard at it. He's an instinctive guy. He sees things, he processes, and he attacks. That's what makes him good."

"He's a guy who has always had some ability, always had talent. But he's worked hard, he's put himself in a position to make plays and it's worked out for our team. We're happy that he's doing so."

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Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was insistent Wednesday that he and his team must continue to move forward, and be cognizant of the challenge they have ahead in Florida International. He did however, take time to address the things the he liked about his defensive unit's performance in the Virginia loss.

Grantham stated that what he was most impressed with was his team's ability to continue to make stops, even when defending a short field. Due in part to struggles on special teams and in part to penalties, the average starting field position for Virginia last Saturday was their own 44-yard line, placing the defense's back against the wall throughout the entire afternoon.

Despite the tough position, the Cardinals held the Cavaliers to 6 of 18 on third down and 285 yards of total offense.

"When you play defense, that's part of it, being able to fly around even when you get in adverse situation," Grantham said.

"That's just part of defense, you gotta go play the next play. You've got to go get the ball back. You really just have to buy in. We're one unit, one team. Once you believe that, and you trust that other guys are going to be in the right spot and you can start playing fast, I do think it kind of snowballs a bit. We've got to continue to do that and work."

Looking forward to FIU, though, Grantham was complimentary about what he's seen so far of the Panthers, and adamant that his team will face a stiff challenge this weekend.

"When you look at them, I think they're well-coached," Grantham said. "They know where to throw the ball relative to where you look. They can put it in some good spots. They've got a couple wideouts that can make some plays and they try to find ways to get those guys the ball."

"So I think they've got some good young talent. Like I said, they were up 16-0 on Pitt. They were playing hard. We've got to understand that and be ready to play."

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One of the unexpected bright spots against Virginia was freshman cornerback Trumaine Washington, who stepped in to provide the Cardinals with four total tackles and a game-swaying sack in the fourth quarter.

"I think he made some plays," Grantham said of Washington. "He's a guy who has shown up in practice, being physical, making plays on the ball. I think that the more playing time he gets that will come out, and we'll see some production there. We're pleased with his progress."

Washington saw got his first taste of action two weeks ago, in the team's 66-21 win over Murray State. The Miami, Fla. native made two tackles against the Racers. 

"It feels great to get my number called," Washington said Wednesday, speaking to the media for the first time.

"Whenever my number gets called, I just feel like I can be the best I can be. It all starts in practice, I go hard in practice. As you can see, the results are in the game. I made a play and helped my team get a big stop."

Being from Florida, Washington is excited for this weekend's game at Florida International, and the opportunity to go back home with big game experience under his belt.

"It feels great, going back home in Miami. My family is coming to see me, friends, and my teammates from high school."

"Even though we're going back home and every body is watching us, it's still a business trip. We're just trying to get one thing done, and that's to get the win." 

FB: Lamb Sees Big Things on His Touchdown Run

Big-screen scoreboards are great for the fans, but who knew the players enjoy looking at them as well.

As junior running back Corvin Lamb of the University of Louisville football team was racing 97 yards on a kickoff return for a touchdown in the win over Miami, he glanced up at the scoreboard to get a glimpse at himself.

"I was running full speed until I looked at myself at the big screen," Lamb said after practice on Thursday. "It was so amazing. I was just so happy to be out there running again with my teammates."

After a 24-yard field goal put Miami ahead 10-7, Lamb took a kickoff at the three-yard line and went untouched for an electrifying return for a touchdown that excited the crowd. It changed the complexion of the game and helped the Cardinals to a 31-13 ACC win in front of a sold-out crowd.

"I knew that we were down and that something needed to be done," Lamb said. "I didn't know I was going to do it right then. I felt it, but it did feel good to do it."

The scary thing for opponents on the rest of the teams on the schedule, Lamb said he never really reached full speed.

"I have been out for a full year so it was exciting to be out there," Lamb said. "I wasn't even running full speed, but I would like to be. I don't think I got touched, I remember just hitting it and running. I was trying to make a play and contribute to the team."

Lamb's road to recovery has been difficult after tearing his ACL early in the season last year, and the road back has been long and winding.

"It was more of a mental struggle seeing my teammates out there having fun," Lamb said. "I was just inside, and I can't go outside because I was doing my rehabilitation.  It was a process. It was a mental process of just getting myself together."

Lamb's long road back came full circle when he was out on the field for the opening kickoff, and he was happy to contribute on special teams.

"I feel like special teams is a huge part of the game and it can change the complexion of the game," Lamb said. "If I have to be on special teams to help my team win, I will do that to help my team win."

FB: Defense pleased with effort, but looks to move on

The University of Louisville football team entered their Monday evening matchup against the University of Miami (Fla.) intent on making an emphatic statement.

  With a dominant 31-13 victory, the Cardinals did just that. And it started with their performance on defense.

 

As a team, the Cardinals held the traditionally potent Hurricane offense to just 244 yards of total offense. Led by a front seven that plugged holes seemingly as soon as they appeared, the Cards stifled Miami to a total of 70 rushing yards, keeping 2013 first team All-ACC running back selection Duke Johnson to 90 rushing yards and, more importantly, out of the end zone.

 

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham noted Wednesday that the performance was a direct result of the team's preparation over the last month.

 

"We did what we had to do," Grantham, speaking to the media for the first time since Monday's win, said.

 

"I thought the guys played with effort and energy. I was pleased with the communication both on the field and on the sidelines. I thought we prepared. You can see the invested time we had going into the scheme and learning the game plan. Credit goes to the players for doing that."

 

When getting into specifics, Grantham praised the play of the defensive line and linebackers- a group that held the Hurricanes to an average of 2.6 yards per rush on Monday night.

 

"I thought the guys played with energy," Grantham said. "They played with pad level. Did a good job with their hands. Controlled the line of scrimmage. They made it hard for them to run the ball."

 

"I was really pleased with their effort, energy, and the way that they played."

 

The group was provided a boost by defensive end-turned-outside linebacker Deiontrez Mount. Mount made eight stops on the night, good for the team's second-highest total. Mount also earned credit for two tackles for loss and a sack in the outstanding season-opening performance.

 

Mount, who converts to a role as an outside linebacker in Grantham's 3-4 defensive scheme, said that his first in-game experience of the new system was even better than he had imagined throughout fall camp.

 

"I love it," Mount said with a grin of his impression of the 3-4 with a game now under his belt. "Me and (fellow outside end-turned-backer) Lorenzo (Mauldin) loved it. We always joke around on the field that we're going to do big things this year, and we definitely did."

 

The 6-foot-5 243-pound senior from Fort Walton Beach, Fla. figures to have plenty more opportunities this season to do just that. Moving into a starting role this year following the departure of first round NFL Draft pick Marcus Smith, Mount brings experience to the table. Despite missing significant time to injury twice in his Louisville career, Mount has made nine starts, and has appeared in 33 contests, tallying more than 50 tackles.

 

As if a new role as a full-time starter were not enough motivation for the performance he gave in the Cardinals' first game as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Mount credits the atmosphere of the stadium for providing him the boost he needed.

 

"I was pumped, man," Mount said of bursting through the tunnel and on to the field for the first time this season, into a horseshoe of a record 55,428 screaming fans clad, like the Cardinals, in all black.

 

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I ran outside. There was black everywhere, I could barely see my own hands. It was just amazing. We need that more often."

 

Though there is plenty to talk about with regard to Mount's showing against Miami, the senior leader insists that his focus is on moving forward. The Cardinals have a short turnaround, as they'll play host to Murray State on Saturday.

 

"It's pretty tough man. Anyone can beat any team. With this quick turnaround anyone can be a good match for you."

 

Mount is quick to credit Murray State and their capabilities on offense, insistent that despite their status as an FCS school, they're a worthy opponent.

 

"You just can't have people pat you back. You just can't listen to that stuff. They play football. They strap on their pads just like we strap on our pads."

 

Kickoff between the Cardinals and Racers is slated for 7 p.m., Saturday Sept. 6, at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

FB: Petrino Updates Media Following Friday's Practice

With the University of Louisville football team's 2014 season-opener against Miami now just a weekend away, head coach Bobby Petrino and his staff are in the process of making final adjustments before the Cardinals take the field on Monday night.

 

With players, coaches, fans, and media eager to get the season rolling, Petrino spent time talking about the game day routine when speaking to the media after Friday's practice.

 

The Cardinals will hit the practice field Saturday and Sunday before meeting the Hurricanes inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium at 8 p.m. on Monday night.

 

"It takes a long time to get ready for that game," Petrino said Friday of the late kickoff time. "We'll let them sleep in a little longer than usual. We'll get up, have a brunch, then we'll go to one of the local high schools and do a walk-through, have a special teams meeting and then let them relax."

 

"(We will) try to get there four hours before the game and do your normal pre-game meal and get ready to come to the stadium. It's the longest day ever waiting for an eight o'clock game."

 

Once at the stadium, the Cardinals will resurrect the once beloved Card March. The team's pre-game walk into the stadium was a Petrino staple and fan favorite during his first stint at the school from 2003 until 2006.

 

"We'll do the Card March like we did before," Petrino said. "We'll get dropped off at the far end of the stadium and come down underneath the tunnel and into the stadium. I make sure that'll be exciting. I'm sure it'll be a great atmosphere. There's a lot of energy for it."

 

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Outside of addressing the team's logistical plan for game day, Petrino also used Friday's media session to discuss the benefits that playing on a Monday night on national television will offer the program.

 

Invariably, there are problems concerning focus that can arise for team's kicking off the season in the national spotlight, but Petrino is no stranger to handling such situations. In his first stint at Louisville and during his time at Arkansas, Petrino faced marquee teams in primetime slots with regularity.

 

"I think that's what you look for. What you really want is to be able to play in games like this," Petrino said before referencing Louisville's 2006 Thursday night home win over then-third-ranked West Virginia.

 

Aside from Petrino, the Louisville football team is loaded with players having big-game experience. Several players are still on the roster who played in the team's 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl win over Florida, as well as last season's Russell Athletic Bowl victory.

"You just focus on your preparation," Petrino said. "Go through the process and do things right each day. I think we're fortunate that we have a lot of players who are very experienced. They've played in big games, have played in BCS bowl games."

 

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Like most teams in college football, Louisville ended their fall camp with several injuries. The most notable being the foot injury sustained last Friday by standout wide receiver DeVante Parker.

 

Parker, who is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks, was expected to be the Cardinals' biggest offensive weapon this season. As a junior in 2013, Parker caught 55 passes for a team-high 885 yards and 12 touchdowns.

 

Without him, the Cardinals will need several members of the receiving corps to pick up the slack.

 

"It's always hard when you lose a really good players, and certainly DeVante is that way. Like I said earlier, you're not going to have one guy replace his production."

 

For Petrino, the absence of Parker will sting, but the coach sees it as an opportunity for creativity in play-calling and for other players to make waves.

 

"We have to do it with a number of guys. I feel like we're very lucky that we have guys with a lot of experience, guys that have made plays, a good group of tight ends, and depth at running back. It helps you spread the wealth around a little bit. Guys are excited to see their number get called."

 

Petrino also addressed the situation of senior running back Michael Dyer, who has been nursing an injured quad. Dyer has been designated as questionable for Monday's game, but Petrino said Dyer looks "a little more doubtful each day."

 

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The Hurricanes will start the game Monday with the depth chart's third quarterback in true freshman Brad Kaaya. Kaaya was pushed into the starting role after an injury to senior Ryan Williams and the suspension of redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen.

 

 Facing a quarterback without college film can be a challenge in pre-game preparation. Petrino was asked about how he and his staff have prepared for the mystery quarterback on Friday night.

 

"Really all we did was watch his high school video. We saw the different talents that he has, he's a guy that can really throw the ball," Petrino said.

 

"We just have to go out an play our game, do the things we need to do. We need to know what to do defensively and put some pressure on him, make him adjust to our defense."

 Redshirt freshman Will Gardner was named the starter on Sunday night by head coach Bobby Petrino. After tearing his ACL as a freshman, it meant a lot to Gardner to be named the starter for opening night.

"It's exciting, I'm very blessed," Gardner said. "The confidence coach Petrino and coach McGee showed in me to name me the starter, it's a very exciting feeling but it's also gives you a lot of confidence know that they're behind you."

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In the 36-9 win over Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl last season, the Cardinals held Miami to just 14 yards on the ground. However, the Hurricanes were missing one piece, Duke Johnson, who rushed for 950 yards and six touchdowns a year ago.
 

"He's a really good player," said Petrino. "He's somebody that we have to contain. We've got to do a good job of setting edges with our outside linebackers and defensive ends. Our safeties are going to have a to do a good job coming downhill and tackling, and we've got to get 11 guys to the ball. I think that's the biggest thing when you watch him is that we're going to have to run full speed to the ball because he's a guy that can take it the distance."

 

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The Cardinals will open the season with a conference game when they take on Miami in the ACC opener. It will be the first time since they opened with Memphis State in the 1973 Missouri Valley Conference opener. Head coach Bobby Petrino likes the idea of opening the year with such an important game.

 

"I like to have an opening game that means something," said Petrino. "I've always enjoyed that, I think that it really helps you throughout the offseason, helps you through summer, it's a real motivating factor in camp. You condition for it, you get ready for it, so I've always enjoyed that. As far as the conference goes, I don't know. This will be the first time I ever had to open with a conference game, but I think some of the thoughts throughout, when you look at some of the people throughout the country too, that some of the thoughts are if you're going to lose a game, you'd rather lose it early when you have a chance to get back late in the season and find a way to get into the playoffs."

 

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The Cardinals will play on Monday night for just the sixth time in school history when they face Miami on ESPN. It will be the first appearance on Monday since the Cardinals lost the Gator Bowl to Virginia Tech in 2006 under head coach Bobby Petrino. 

 

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Senior defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin is ready to play. After sitting out the spring because of injury, Mauldin can't wait to take the field.


"I don't think impatient is the word, because now that we have our minds on Miami, we get to actually play them in our heads before we go out and play them physically," said Mauldin. "We need to learn how their offensive schemes are as a defense and learn how their offensive schemes are as an offense. Just learning their schemes is pretty much where we are about right now."

 

 

 

FB: Milton Excited to be Back on the Field

 

If anyone is excited to be back out on the football field, it's University of Louisville wide receiver Matt Milton.

 

The redshirt senior from Belleville, Ill., will get an opporunity to see significant playing time this week, which was something that didin't look possible after last season. 

 

"Coming into fall camp I just wanted to play like a starter, act like one, work like one. Get in there and learn the offense as best I can so I can help the team."

 

A transfer from the University of Tennessee, Milton played in 10 games as a Volunteer before sitting out the 2012 season in compliance with NCAA transfer rules.

 

A knee injury followed by surgery kept him off the field during the 2013 spring season and held him to minimal playing time last fall. Milton saw action in four games for the Cardinals, making his debut in the season opener against Ohio.

 

Despite his battles with injuries, Milton is more enthusiastic each day about practice.

 

"The first couple of days you're getting your legs up under you, you're tired and stuff like that," Milton said. "But today it was a lot better about working with the quarterbacks and just route timing. I mean, when you're tired you're going to be off a little bit, but the best thing to do is work while you're tired so in the game it's easy."

 

With that enthusiasm comes a higher level of comfort and confidence. The addition of shoulder pads during Thursday's practice allowed the players to elevate their play and feel as though they were in more of a game-like situation.  

 

"You can't play football without pads, so the sooner the better," Milton said. "I need to get everything on. I need my pants, I need the pads and everything so I can feel like I would in the game, so I can play like that in practice."

 

Milton is also feeling confortable receiving from both redshirt sophomore quarterback Will Gardner and freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon. He's noticed that both are becoming more confident in their abilities, which helps everyone else on the field as well.

 

"I think [Will] has more confidence than us now because we're getting more comfortable and that makes him feel better too. He's looking good," he said.

 

"[Reggie's] a real confident kid," he added. "I think in football confidence is one of the biggest things. You lose your confidence, you don't have anything. And I like his athleticism. I saw him running a little option today and he looked good."

 

Perhaps one of Milton's most notable qualities as a player is his height. Standing at 6-foot-5, Milton will be a big target and has the athleticism to continue the run. At Mascoutah High, he was ranked as the No. 20 wide receiver in the nation, but he has not yet had the opportunity to show Cardinals' fans his full capability on the field.  

 

Along with the rest of the team, he will continue to focus on learning and perfecting this year's new playbook while trying to impress the coaching staff with both his play and leadership ability. Milton understands that these changes combined with new players means that he and the team will need to work even harder, but he is prepared to do so.  

 

"It's a learning process because of the new offense, and we've got young guys in the morning, but some guys had to go in the afternoon too," said Milton. "But it's been pretty good, everybody's learning and getting way better from the first day to the third."

FB: Gardner Continues to Develop His Game

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University of Louisville sophomore quarterback Will Gardner's presence is quite the opposite of demanding.  In fact, he isn't far from being a little soft-spoken. He isn't shy, just a quiet confidence as he hopes to earn the starting nod in the opener versus Miami.

The Douglas, Ga,  native seems unfazed by the big shoes he will likely fill after Teddy Bridgewater left ofr the NFL and is playing for the Minnesota Vikings.

Since winter workouts, Gardner has stepped up and become a leader, showing his Louisville teammates that he has been ready for this moment. The guys on the team trust him, so much they voted him a captain. The graceful leader has established a steady track record.

Gardner went 5-for-5 for 42 yards in his first game last season,   to finishing 32-of-37 for 542 yards (356 by halftime) in his team's Spring Game.

Now with preseason camp in its final days, Gardner assesses, "I feel like I've come a long way since the beginning of fall camp. Things are starting to click now and it's back to normal, it seems. Everything is looking good now."

Since being rated as the 29th-best pro-style quarterback in high school by Rivals.com, Gardner now has an opportunity to lead an offense that will be taking a leap into the ACC when the Hurricanes of Miami visit Louisville on Sept. 1.

Gardner has worked hard in the spring and in fall camp to get for what could be a monumental opportunity.

"I'm just going out every day and not taking a rep off," Gardner said.  "I'm playing full speed, whether it's in individual drills or run timing with the running backs. I'm just trying to play full speed."

Coach McGee tells us all the time, 'The quicker your footwork is, the more accurate your ball is.' And I can tell that a lot when I speed up my footwork and get things going more, my balls are a lot more accurate."

With a southern politeness and an almost unassuming demeanor, Gardner looks to lead a revamped Louisville team that is projected to go to new heights under new head coach Bobby Petrino.

 As fall camp comes to a close in the coming days, Gardner appears to be settling in as a leader.  Gardner has his mind set on being ready for Louisville's season opener.

"We've started game planning," he says. "We have periods where we'll cross over and work some Miami defenses and we still have periods where we work against our own defenses. We're still preparing for Miami." 

Louisville beat Miami in last season's Russell Athletic Bowl with a 36-9 victory.  Yet even with an entire new coaching staff, the Louisville players are seeing many similarities between a Miami team they faced eight months ago and what they are currently working on in camp. 

"We see similarities from then and with our defense because they're both a three-down defense. So that helps us a lot [in] preparing for Miami."

 

FB: Washington Hopes to Compete for Playing Time

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Every athlete has his limitations. For University of Louisville cornerback Trumaine Washington, that limitation is his height.

 

The true freshman out of Miami, Fla., stands at only 5-foot-10, which can make covering receivers tricky at times. But what Washington lacks in height, he makes up for in speed. As a three-star corner back at Killian Senior High, he totaled 50 tackles and four interceptions in his senior season. His aggressive style of play allowed him to shut down some of the best players in the country.

 

Despite his quickness on the field, Washington was hit with a reality check upon arriving for summer workouts.

 

"When I first got in in the summer, the speed was totally different," Washington said. "I thought I was the fastest person in high school, but when I got to college I felt like I was the slowest person. The speed changed, but I adapted to it."

 

As a recruit, Washington was told that his height would prevent him from playing at a high level.

 

"I wasn't going to come here, but when coach (Bobby) Petrino, he was at Western Kentucky and he came here, they didn't stop recruiting me," he said. "Because I wasn't going to come to the ACC, they said I was too small and I wasn't big enough. So coach (Terrell) Buckley and coach L.D. (Scott) and coach Petrino, they made me an offer. They said I could do it, they believe in me."

 

It is that belief that pushes Washington in practice. The emphasis on fundamentals allows him to stand up to the taller receivers on the team. When covering those taller players, Washington makes sure to listen to his coaches and force each receiver to work as hard as possible to catch the ball.

 

"[Coach Buckley] taught us to step-step and get on top of him," Washington said. "As long as you get on top of him, he can't go for it. Just lean, get a little lean on him. You're good after that."

 

Often during practice, he is forced to use the skills that he has learned against fellow freshman Javonte Bagley, a wide receiver that stands five inches taller than Washington.

 

"[Javonte's] a pretty tall receiver and I'm pretty short, so I think my advantage right now to him is my speed. But going up for the ball, sometimes he'll get me because he's too tall, but I just have to get a hand on him. If I don't, then he's going to catch it."

 

One of the advantages of being a young player on the team is the leadership and guidance that is shown from the older and more experienced players.

 

Washington is comfortable asking questions of his fellow defensive teammates, as he understands that the more help he receives, the easier it will be to cover those players that are both quick and tall. With the help of his teammates and the guidance of his coaches, Washington feels that he can be successful if he works hard and listens.

 

"They stay with us up at practice and meetings," he explained. "They talk to us, go over the playbook. And the older guys, like the safeties and the linebackers, they help us too. During a play they let us know what we've got just in case we don't know."

 

Washington understands that hard work will pay off in the long run. He knows what he is capable of doing and looks to improve as his first season with the Cardinals begins.

 

"I've just got to do everything extra hard," he said. "I'm not that tall, so I have to go extra hard to the receivers and make sure I get a hand on them, get a shoulder on them. I think my advantage right now is my quickness, so I can see things, I react faster. We're just getting better and better every day as a unit. Offense and defense, we're just getting better."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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