Fall football camp finally got under way Tuesday at the University of Louisville under partially clouded skies and 90 degree temperatures. The real thing after seven months of strength training and individual workouts.
Bobby Petrino is in his element, running his usual tightly controlled operation, totally focused, demanding maximum effort, determined to make every minute count. Raising his voice only a couple of times this day, expecting the same kind of focus from his players.
The coach allowing more media access to his team than his successor, actually permitting scribes access to the second practice field to get a close-up look at the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. No photos permitted during some drills but having access is a breath of fresh air, a welcome change. Some observations:
— Somewhat surprising to see Kyle Bolin trading snaps with Will Gardner at quarterback during the afternoon session. While Bolin’s right knee was heavily taped from an operation on a torn meniscus this summer, Bolin appeared to have relatively good mobility and arm strength.
— Appears to be more than the normal amount of dropped passes and interceptions during position workouts, with cornerback Charles Gaines responsible for a couple of thefts. Gaines eager to celebrate, needling the wide receivers and quarterbacks, at one point directing some mild harassment toward James Quick for a muffled pass. Maybe the pass coverage is better than expected, given all the concern up to now. First day of practice too early to draw any conclusions.
— DeVante Parker tips an overthrown ball, not once but twice, and still manages to catch up with the ball and pull it in, displaying the speed, agility and hands that have made him an extraordinary receiver. He’s going to get a lot more chances to do his thing in Petrino’s system.
— Matt Milton, a 6-foot-5, 202-pound redshirt senior, is also impressive, suggesting that he may be ready to emerge under a coach who likes to throw to tall receivers early and often.
— Running backs Dominique Brown and Michael Dyer back in top condition ready to punish opposing defenses this fall. Brown running over the top of people, Dyer running through, around and between defenders.
— After missing the spring season with shoulder surgery, senior Lorenzo Mauldin returns to the field, impressing Petrino. “He is good,” says Petrino afterwards. “He can really rush the passer; he uses his hands and he is smart. He knows the sets by the tackles and tight ends. I watched him more than I usually watch the rush guys during practice.”
The crowd appears to be between 800 and 1,000 people, a little down from past years, but then there are several more opportunities for fans through Saturday. Or it could well be the presence of a world class event at a golf course across town.