U of L Cardinal FootNotes: Media Day

CardHelmetProvided herein a little of this, and a smidge of that. You know, the team’s only practiced for two days in shorts. And, as I’ve said, but shall repeat as a reminder, I don’t do practice, because I’m not an astute enough observer to tell what’s really happening.

Once upon a time this annual exercise — team photos, Q & A with head coach, assistants and many, if not all players, and a free meal — was called Picture Day.

Because it started on the always scorching in August faux grass, with official team photos, and the opportunity for media to take photos and video footage.

No more.

It’s Media Day, but, for the first time ever, we who cover the Cards weren’t allowed on the field to take photos.

Which, of course, we could grumble about, while we ate a sumptuous breakfast buffet provided by the school.

* * * * *

The most frank conversation I had was with assistant coach Lamar Thomas, while we were on the elevator.

I asked something to the effect, that these press obligations must be a hassle?

Thomas said no, indicating it’s far from an onerous task.

“I’ll be honest, it’s the coaches meetings that are a grind.

“Players don’t realize how hard we work. They lift weights, practice then leave. We’re here all day, two practices, then have meetings at night.”

He advised the normal daily schedule for the coaching staff runs from “6:00 in the morning until 11:00, 11:30 at night.”

* * * * *

OL coach Chris Klenakis was the focus of inordinate attention.

Which makes sense given that Bobby Petrino admitted during his time at the microphone, “Getting the offensive line ready to go is our biggest challenge.”

Klenakis shared that freshmen Geron Christian and Kenny Thomas, rather than practicing with the newcomers, have been taking snaps with the veterans. This is to see if the duo might be more advanced than the other rookies, and thus be ready for action sooner.

When asked if he’d rather have five linemen whom he can rely on, to play all of the snaps, or have enough for a routine rotation, he said the former. “The optimal is to have five guys who play.”

Several times during my interlude at his table, Klenakis spoke of his charges “good enthusiasm and dedication to getting better.”

One of his catchphrases is FBI. “It’s a constant learning process. We want our guys to develop FBI. Football intelligence.”

* * * * *

Head coach Bobby Petrino started his portion of the proceedings, by naming the team captains.

James Burgess, Keith Kelsey and Sheldon Rankins on defense. Anthony Epps and Brandon Radcliffe on offense.

Other takeaways from the head coach:

DeVonte Fields needs to get in shape.

He likes the weather hot for summer practice.

He seemed genuinely taken with Will Gardner’s performance, that it has been much better than expected. As for the QB who seems to be in the lead to start, Reggie Bonnafon, Petrino offered that he’s “throwing much better, with a tighter spiral.” And that his “timing is better.” His expression indicated the Trinity grad still needs improvement on his footwork.

Petrino quoted a former mentor, Bruce Snyder, when emphasizing how patient the coaches need to be with the development of the OL.

Kyle Bolin had the best completion percentage on the first day of practice.

When discussing the wideouts, he specifically mentioned Traveon Samuel and Emonee Spence. As he did in his presser on Wednesday.

Asked about James Quick, Petrino advised he still needs to be consistent, not take off before he’s caught the ball and tucked it securely and to improve his running decisions after the catch.

Asked if his inclination is to depend on the his more advanced defense early in the season, Petrino said, “We want to GO, score a lot of points.”

— Seedy K