Today was the first day of spring practice and the kickoff of Jeff Brohm’s tenure as the Louisville Football Coach. Practice ran pretty normal and pretty boring which is a bit on the nose for a coach who keeps things pretty mundane. The practice mixed some position drills as well as 7-on-7 and “Team” settings where the full team went against each other.
I dropped some notes on the practice below and I’ll continue to have a report for each open practice through the spring game on April 21st.
- Jack Plummer is the obvious choice as the starter at quarterback and I think the rest of the group is competing for the backup job. Plummer looked like the veteran starter that the team needed from the portal and outside of a dropped snap, I don’t think he did anything today that made me feel any concern that he couldn’t lead this offense.
- Khalib Johnson looked like the best of the next group to me today. That’s not to say he looked great, but he was more consistent than Brock Domann and Evan Conley. Johnson underthrew a couple of throws down the field but he picked out the open guy very well on every dropback I saw. As for the other guys, there was a lot to be desired.
- Running backs are always hard to judge in practice but the group as a whole looked good from what we could see. All three backs spent time with the first group with Isaac Guerendo being noticeably bigger than the other backs as expected.
- Wide receiver was the group that stood out the most to me today. Jamari Thrash had a very “he just looks better than everyone else” type of day that we’ve seen in the past from guys like DeVante Parker and others. Not to say that he is at the level of Parker but he stood out in a similar way.
- Kevin Coleman should team up with Trash to give Jeff Brohm an opportunity to truly unlock the passing game that has been a bit reliant on a “go-to” guy over the last few years at Purdue. Coleman is very quick but his route running stood out as he cuts very well while not having to throttle down much. I was really impressed with him on routes over the middle of the field.
- William Fowles was the best freshman I saw today. He was very physical against press coverage which is not always the norm when it comes to young guys in their first practice. He was also just open all the time. It also stood out that I didn’t see him drop a pass today which can’t be said by most of the receivers.
- While Fowles was the best freshman, Jamari Johnson was the most impressive. He is a comically large human being and he showed a great knack for beating linebackers and getting enough space to create a window for the ball to arrive. It was reminiscent of some of the NFL tight ends you see that just always seem to be open. There was nothing really special he did but he ended up with the ball in his hands with green grass in front of him.
- The offensive line featured three returning starters in Bryan Hudson, Renato Brown, and Michael Gonzalez. The two guard spots were manned by John Paul Flores who transferred in from Virginia and Josh Black who has one start in his career over three seasons. My guess is that Black will have to battle to hold his spot but Luke Burgess seemed to be the second man up at left tackle. It’s possible he could allow Gonzalez to move inside to guard if he plays well enough.
- Depth will be the question on the line as we just haven’t seen a lot of these backups on the field yet. Black and Austin Collins have some game experience but we don’t know much about anyone else at this point.
- We got some immediate answers on the defensive line as Jermayne Lole and Dez Tell worked with the first group throughout the practice. Lole shouldn’t have any problem holding onto the job but Tawfiq Thomas looks like he’s ready to take that next step forward. He consistently ended up in the backfield today but more than that, he physically looks the part. UofL should have a nice four-man rotation with others who can steal some snaps as well.
- Ashton Gillotte had a nice day today. He ended up in the backfield with ease on a handful of pass-rush snaps and he very much looks like a guy who has worked on his body. It’s impossible to know who will play well this fall but Ashton surely looks like a guy that realizes he has an opportunity to be the star of the defense. He’s gotten by on pure effort and athleticism so far. If he puts the mental part together, he could have a big year.
- The stand-up defensive end spot which is supposedly called “Leo” in this defense was manned by Popeye Williams who now looks like he ate an entire Popeye’s. I struggled to find a comparison for him but he actually looks like Yasir Abdullah with a little more length. Williams said that he couldn’t wait to get here last year to learn from guys like Yasir and it seems like he picked up on the off-the-field work that we saw from Yasir.
- I’m not sure if there’s anything to it but Stephen Herron didn’t get many reps today. Kam Wilson and Adonijah Green ran with the second group most of the day with Herron rotating in at times. As someone who would be expected to be a starter, it was a bit odd that he didn’t run with the first group at all (from what I saw).
- Linebacker is just as thin as expected with KJ Cloyd and TJ Quinn running with the first group. I’m high on Quinn and I thought he played well when he got on the field last year but the group as a whole has an experience issue that won’t be solved without the portal.
- Jaylin Alderman, Gilbert Frierson, and Jackson Hamilton all saw snaps with the second group. Hamilton was the guy that flashed the most to me. Frierson got a tip on a pass that ended up being picked off by Marquis Grove-Killebrew (who will now be known as MGK for the rest of his career). Stanquan Clark ran with the last group but looked comfortable running around. It will be interesting to see if he starts working with the first or second group by the end of spring.
- Cornerback was the group that took home the award for “man, they’re really thin there” for this practice. Quincy Riley isn’t practicing so we got to see Jarvis Brownlee at one corner spot with Trey Franklin lined up on the opposite side. Losing Tre Clark was obviously big but Chandler Jones provided veteran depth and versatility that they won’t be able to just fix in a hurry.
- Derrick Edwards, MGK, and Jeremiah Caldwell were the other scholarship corners in the group today. Neither did anything substantial but Steve Ellis spent a lot of time with Caldwell after plays and drills. Caldwell is still very thin and needs to put on weight but I thought he looked pretty good for a 6-3 corner. Ellis having to yell at him to chase the ball on a run play makes me wonder just how comfortable he is out there, however.
- Josh Minkins is out after shoulder surgery so DeAngelo Hutchinson stepped in with the first group. Hutchinson played a lot as a true freshman last season so it wasn’t shocking to see him out there ahead of Devin Neal. However, Ron English spent a good amount of time yelling at him early in practice. I wasn’t able to figure out why but it looked like alignment issues.
- MJ Griffin picked up where he left off last season. A couple of plays that stood out to me were him running step-for-step with Cataurus Hicks in a drill and him blowing up a pass over the middle to a tight end where he met the ball right as it hit the tight end’s hands.
- Neal also made a couple of plays today in the middle of the field. At worst, he will add needed depth in the back end. At best, he could take a spot just like we saw from Griffin last season. Neal also has experience playing in the slot which is a part of this base defense.
- Speaking of the slot, Ben Perry lined up in the nickel-type spot in the defense. I’m not sure what Ron English calls it but let’s just say “Star” for now. Perry looked good in coverage which is a bit exciting because he will be asked to do that a lot this year. I wasn’t able to see who came in behind him but I would expect Frierson to be an option there.
- Steve Ellis is loud as hell. I could clearly hear him yelling at the cornerbacks from the 35-yard line while he was in the opposite endzone. I also enjoyed him celebrating a pick-six by Jarvis Brownlee by running down the field even though he has a significant limp. He and English are very loud, very willing to yell at guys when they’re wrong and very willing to loudly praise them when they do right.
- I don’t know if I even saw Mark Hagan today. Mark Ivey was also very reserved which isn’t abnormal from what I’ve seen before. It appeared that Ivey may have been focused on the edge players while Karl Maslowski seemed to be giving instructions to the inside linebackers. I’ll be looking to get a clear view of the roles as practice goes on.
- Chance Marrow was the goat on offense as he dropped multiple passes and couldn’t get open much. On defense, Caldwell and Hutchinson were the only two guys that I saw catch the ire of the coaches but that’s partially because their coaches are extremely loud.
- Jeff Brohm was very quiet today. Scott Satterfield also didn’t say much during practice while Bobby Petrino was more likely to yell some instructions and Charlie Strong moved around a lot to different areas. I’ve said that Brohm is “boring in a good way” and his post-practice comments to the media showed why I say that.