LOUISVILLE, Ky.- Heading into the 2014 fall camp, everyone within the University of Louisville program knew things were going to move fast with head coach Bobby Petrino back at the helm, but no one thought it was going to be this fast.
"Things are moving very fast," quarterback Will Gardner said. "We have a lot of work to do, but the guys are working hard and are picking things up, but we know we have a long, long way to go."
The Cardinals practiced for the second- and final - time in shorts and helmets. They will be putting shoulder pads on Thursday morning for the first time. Petrino split the two practices again on Wednesday and will do so again on Thursday.
The veterans came out in the afternoon for just the second time this summer, and the coaching staff is already beginning to see the squad starting to pick things up.
"You can see the improvement," cornerbacks coach Terrell Buckley said after practice. "You can see how strong they've gotten, fit. The strength coaches have done an excellent job getting their bodies physically ready for this type of stuff, for camp, all of this stuff. We want to see that combined with the practices, installations of the defense, different angles they have to take. What happens after four or five days now?"
Gardner, who is coming off a solid spring, saw the offense stall at times on Wednesday, but he knows there is still time to fine tune their offensive attack for the opener versus Miami.
"It's still early so we're still struggling a little bit," Gardner said. "We've still got to pick up where we left off on spring. We're going to get better. I know the guys we have on our team and the guys we've got on offense, they're all hard workers. So it's going to get better for us."
Despite a solid spring, Wednesday marked just the 17th practice under Petrino, who took over the program in January. The Cardinals last practiced together on April 11, so it will take everyone a little time to get the team back on the same page.
"It's time to get back in football shape," Gardner said. "We worked all summer and did sprints all summer, but it's still different. No matter how much you do in the summer it's still different when you get out there in football, and you're running around and the offense is real high-tempo."
The same can be said on the defensive side of the football, where the Cardinals are learning an entirely new scheme. Under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, the Cards are switching to the 3-4.
Senior Deiontrez Mount, one of the team's veterans, is still trying to grasp the concepts of a new defensive system.
"I'm still having to think through it," Mount said. "It's a lot of formations that I haven't been exposed to and I still have to adjust to being out in space. It's new to me. It's fun not having to hit these big 300-pounders every down. I like getting to go beat up on some wide receivers, Like Eli (Rogers)."
Mount knows the season is just 26 days away, and the defense must continue to put their noses in their playbooks. `After we left the spring we still have a lot of learning to do," Mount said. "The playbook is just so big you can't really learn it in two weeks. So with the summer being here, we have extra hours there and it's brought us a long way."
The Cardinals will get another opportunity to get better on Thursday, with a pair of split-squad practices. The newcomers will hit the field at 8:50 a.m. and the veterans will practice at 4:20 p.m.