April 13, 2012

Spring Game Primer

Its been nearly four months since most fans saw the University of Louisville football team in action. All that changes Saturday as Coach Charlie Strong and the Cards take the field for the annual Red-White Spring Game. Papa John's Cardinal Stadium is expected to be rocking for the 1:00 p.m. kick off as it will be the last time to watch sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the Cards until the start of the 2012 season.

The Basics:
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST
Place: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
Cost: Admission is FREE and open to the public.
Tailgating: Of course! The parking lot will open at 8:00 a.m. and the gates will open at 12noon.

Game Setup & Scoring
The game will pit the offense versus the defense in a regular-game situation. The first half will be timed as a regular game, while second-half timing rules will depend on depth. The Cardinals, who begin their final week of spring practice, have had a productive spring, as Louisville returns at least 18 total starters from last season's BIG EAST championship team.

Players to Watch
Teddy Bridgewater - The leader of the Cards' has continued to grow and improve since we last saw him in December's Belk Bowl. Bridgewater showed the potential to be special last season when he started as a true freshman. This year he's expected to take over and lead young, but very talented offense that has playmakers all over the field.

Corvin Lamb - "Lambo" has been the talk of the spring thus far. Saturday will be the first prolonged opportunity to see Lamb and what he's capable of bringing to the Cards' backfield. He may be anywhere from 2nd to 4th on the depth chart, but much of tghat could be determinted by his ability to hold on to the ball. He fumbled twice during the spring in the red zone. A big Charlie Strong No-No.

Devante Parker - The team's leader in touchdown receptions a year ago, Parker is a special talent who seems primed of a breakout sophomore season. The local Ballard HS product is capable of reaching the end zone any time he catches a pass.

Senorise Perry - Another running back to keep an eye on is Perry. He played sparingly at running back last season, but was the start of the recent scrimmage that included a 75-yard run for a touchdown and a team-best 17 carries.

Brandon Dunn - Dunn has reportedly really changed his body, dropping weight and increasing productivity. He was solid last season as a freshman and looks to anchor the defensive line this year. Dunn leads what will likely be the Cards' most talented unit on defense this year.

Position of Interest
Placekickers - It's a two man race between John Wallace and Andrew Fletcher for the starting spot. Both have been solid in the spring, but it will be interesting to see how each one performs with the pressure of 20,000 fans cheering.

Attendance Over / Under
Coach Strong has gone on public record and taken to social media saying he'd like to see 20,000 Cardinal fans in attendance on Saturday. Why make Charlie mad?

With college basketball over and only baseball to hold us over, we're officially entering Sports Siberia. Why not come out and support the program? The 1:00 p.m. Saturday start is perfect for families and tailgaters. Plus, for the first time since the John L. Smith era, the weather is supposed to be nice for the Spring Game.
For many, this will be the first and only chance to see Teddy Bridgewater and the team until the September 2nd season opener.

My attendance prediction: 17,000 fans with several hundred more in the parking lot refusing to leave their tailgate. (Also, keep in mind that with Spring Break in effect for Jefferson County schools, many families will be trekking back from Destin on Saturday).

Strong's Take
"We have had a good spring," said Strong. "It's been very competitive and the players have given great effort. I hope we can have a huge crowd on Saturday and really show off our team to our great fans."

Strong on Each Phase of the Game
On the offense:
"Offensively, we are balanced. We are run and pass. We are very balanced on offense. We want to go run the play action with the boots and we want to stretch the field in our passing game. We want to attack the open zones and get the ball in the hands of our playmakers."

On the defense:
"On defense, we are very aggressive and very multiple. We will attack. We're going to play man coverage and we're going to blitz. That is just a part of us and that's what's going to happen. Now we have to find the guys that are going to go cover them, but we're going to blitz."

On the kicking game and special teams:
"Then in the kicking game, we have to be very aggressive. We have to find us a kicker. (Chris) Philpott was in our program, but he's out now. We have to find us a kicker. We have to find guys that can go down the field and get off of blocks. Then we have to go and be able to block people in the return game.

Extra Points

  • Posters will be available for a donation to Wendy's Wonderful Kids Foundation throughout the parking lots and on the concourse

  • Inflatables for kids will be located inside Gate 3 at noon.

  • Carnival type food vendors will be located throughout the concourse.

  • The Cardinal Authentic sale at Gate 2. All items marked up to 70% off. Nothing is priced over 25!!!! Sale starts Friday, April 13 and runs through April 20.

  • Fans can renew or sign up for season tickets at the Gate 2 ticket office.

  • Following the spring game, the 19th-ranked baseball team will take on Seton Hall at 3 p.m.

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