Bonnafon and first team defense shine in Spring Game

By on April 18, 2015

By: Sam Draut

Louisville football wrapped up spring practices with the annual Spring Game on Friday evening at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

In front of an announced attendance of 23,187 the Red team comprised of starters defeated the White team made up of the second unit 59-0.

Sophomore quarterback Reggie Bonnafon trotted out with the first team and left as the clear favorite at the starting quarterback position.

The 6-foot-3 Trinity High School product completed 15 of 19 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. Bonnafon gained 48 yards on the ground and added another score.

Head coach Bobby Petrino tested Bonnafon with deep throws throughout the game, but said he left happy with the quarterback’s performance.

Bonnafon found Dontez Byrd for a 34 yard touchdown and also hit James Quick for a 36 yard gain.

“I had the opportunity to play as a true freshman and that worked to my advantage,” Bonnafon said. “So this spring coming in, we knew the things I needed to work on.”

“He is way ahead of where he was last year,” Petrino said.

A clearly stronger Bonnafon said he has added 15 pounds to his frame since the end of last season and is now playing at 210-215 pounds.

“It gave me power running and throwing,” Bonnafon said. “The lower body has a lot do to with throwing the ball.”

The quarterback connected with his former high school teammate early and often.  Quick finished with seven receptions for 127 yards.

The 6-foot-1 junior receiver moved to the slot position this spring and has enjoyed the switch.

“Playing in the slot is fun because you get to match up with players who have different skill sets,” Quick said. “Players who are bigger or slower than me.”

For a wide receiving core that lost six seniors from last year, Quick becomes the veteran of the group.

“James has done a nice job of leading by example, he knows how to go out and work hard,” Petrino said.

Petrino strayed away from calling out a favorite running back, but he got a solid night from his three main backs.

Junior college transfer Jeremy Smith ran for 58 yards and a touchdown on ten carries.  Last season’s leading rusher Brandon Radcliff had seven carries for 57 yards and three touchdowns.  Bruising sophomore L.J. Scott had 37 yards on seven carries.

Though the first team offense may have drawn most of the attention, the first team defense was sensational.

“I really think we will have a dominant defense, our defensive front and linebacking core is very physical,” Petrino said.

The White team was held to 100 total yards and averaged just 1.3 yards per carry.

Pio Vatuvei had five tackles and an interception.  Linebacker Henry Famurewa added five tackles and two sacks.

“We are a physical defense, we get after the run and we get after the quarterback,” linebacker Keith Kelsey said.

The Cardinals lost their entire starting secondary and two top pass rushers, but Louisville’s strength could once again be on the defensive side of the ball.

“We have some new pieces in the defense,” Kelsey said. “But we played good overall.”

“Anytime you can pitch a shutout you are excited,” Rankins said. “But I would be lying if I said we are where we need to be.”

Bonnafon may be the favorite at quarterback, but sophomore Kyle Bolin and junior Tyler Ferguson received a good amount of reps too.

Bolin started for the White team, completing 3 of 7 passes for 20 yards.  When he switched over to the first team offense, Bolin completed 8 of 11 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

“I like the things Kyle can do out there and I think he continues to get better,” Petrino said.

Ferguson played with the second team, completing 7 of 13 passes for 47 yards.

“Tyler has a big arm but he isn’t quite where he needs to be with his decision making and understanding of the offense,” Petrino said.

After the game, Petrino said all three quarterbacks had improved throughout the spring.

As spring practice comes to a close, the coaching staff will hit the recruiting trail for the next few months.  Players will have time off and then get back to work with strength and conditioning and individual player led workouts.

Though fall camp and the season opener seem far away, the Cardinals can close the book on a successful spring.

“I thought we made some improvements this spring, but overall we have a long way to go before the opening game,” Petrino said.

Louisville will face Auburn in the Chick-Fil A Bowl in Atlanta, GA on Saturday September 5.

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