Daily Focus – Specialists
Up to this point in the spring we have featured positions on both the offense and the defense, today we are going to focus on special teams. The group consisting of kickers, punters, and long snappers is often referred to as “specialists”, our group calls themselves “The Regulators”. This will be an experienced group in 2018, Mason King (r-Jr.) and Austin Johnson (r-So.) are both returning at the punter position, Mason has broken the school record for average punting yards in back-to-back seasons (43.9 yds). Kickers, Blanton Creque (r-Jr.) and Evan O’Hara(r-Sr.), both have a lot of game experience, Blanton earned honorable mention all-ACC honors in 2017. Mitch Hall (So.) was able to come in as a true freshman in 2017 and start on both punt (recording 3 tackles on the season) and field goals. Look for this group to lead our special teams in 2018.
Coach Quote of the Day
“I’m very excited about this group. We return all of our depth which gives us experience snappers, kickers, punters and holders. This experience should translate into highly productive special teams next season.”
– Chris Klenakis – Tight Ends Coach
- #36 Evan O’Hara (Kicker) – 6’0 213 lbs. – Louisville, KY – RS Senior
- #45 Blanton Creque (Kicker) – 5’11 190 lbs. – Shelbyville, KY – RS Junior
- #28 Mason King (Punter) – 6’3 216 lbs. – Louisville, KY – RS Junior
- #46 Brendan Lowery (Long Snapper) – 6’0 203 lbs. – Barrington, IL – RS Junior
- #67 Thomas Nauert (Long Snapper) – 6’1 307 lbs. – Louisville, KY – RS Junior
- #47 Austin Johnson (Punter) – 6’2 207 lbs. – Louisville, KY – RS Sophomore
- #76 Luke Massad (Long Snapper) – 6’2 217 lbs. – Paducah, KY – RS Sophomore
- #52 Mitch Hall (Long Snapper) – 6’1 204 lbs. – Clayton, NC – Sophomore
- #37 Ryan Chalifoux (Kicker) – 6’1 199 lbs. – Champaign, IL – RS Freshman
- #54 Reegan Leen (Long Snapper) – 6’3 232 lbs. – Boca Raton, FL – RS Freshman
- #44 Jackson Wine (Kicker) – 6’0 219 lbs. – Louisville, KY – RS Freshman
Coach Petrino’s Practice Notes
I liked the way we came out to practice yesterday ready to work in full pads. We had a high energy intense physical practice. We mixed it up with a couple of new drills that were new for our players.
The first one was a 2 on 2 drill that had two Offensive Lineman versus two Defensive lineman in four groups and Tight Ends versus Linebackers in a fifth group. The focus was for the offense to drive block and the defense to shed blocks and tackle the Running Back. On the Defensive side of the ball the pairing of Derek Dorsey and Caleb Tillman did a good job. CJ Avery and Nick Okeke did a good job as well in the drill. On the Offensive side of the ball Mekhi Becton certainly showed his power as well as Linwood Foy. Another guy that had a lot of success because he was so technically sound was Tyler Haycraft.
The next phase of practice was Run/Play Action pass. Offensively we saw some good blocking by Mekhi Becton, Lukayus McNeil and Micky Crum. Trey Smith broke a long TD run which was good to see! Finally, Malik Cunningham did a really nice job with his ball handing and executing the Play Action part of the period. Defensively we saw a focused effort on sprinting to the football and our Safeties were much more aggressive. Our Defensive Line turned and sprinted to the football and we saw a standout play by Cornelius Sturghill down the sideline. Jonathan Greenard did a good job of recognizing the difference between run and pass, highlighted by a play where he tipped the pall and turned and ran down field to make the tackle. We know to play well on Defense this year we need to play with great effort and run to the football and I was excited to see the Defense running full speed to the football!!
We finished the practice with a fun and energetic 1 on 1 Goal Line tackling Drill (CARD DRILL). We had some great match-ups between the Running Backs and Linebackers as well as the Wide Receivers and Safeties. Two match-ups that drew the most enthusiasm were Defensive Lineman Amonte Caban versus Tight End Kemari Averett and the grand finale of Offensive Lineman Mekhi Becton versus Defensive Lineman Jonathan Greenard. I think we might have found a new Fullback!
Standout Performers from Day 10
- Offensive Grinder – Tight End Micky Crum
- Defensive Grinder – Defensive Lineman Amonte Caban
- Offensive Showtime – Wide Receiver Dez Fitzpatrick
- Defensive Showtime – Defensive Lineman Jonathan Greenard
- Newcomer – Mekhi Becton (New to the Fullback position)
*Grinder = Gives all one’s got every day, influencing others’ work ethic in the process
*Showtime = The specific time to display or execute a performance of great magnitude.
Off the Field Highlights
The stadium expansion is really coming along. The construction crew has finished the concrete work in the north end zone surrounding the Football Complex, and it is looking incredible! Much of the interior space is identified. The drywall is up and the primer will be going on the walls very soon.
This project was a huge undertaking on a tight schedule, but a lot of work has gone into it and is apparent throughout. On the outside, the brick work is being completed to tie the new space in with the existing structure, windows have been installed on the north side of the building and the field level suites are now well-defined. On the inside, the rehabilitation pools have been installed in the training room, the weight room is huge and the club area will be a great spot for our fans to view the game.
“With our football season just around the corner and the Grand Opening of our amazing, new stadium expansion coming into focus, Messer Construction has been leading our great group of sub-contractors toward the path of completion. On a daily basis there are many exciting parts to this project that are coming together, and in the end they will provide us with a first-class facility for our great University,” Michael Ortman, Asst. Athletic Director/Stadium Manager.
Petrino Family Foundation Update
The Petrino Family Foundation Coaches & Cocktails Reception, Sponsored by Planet Fitness is only 1 week away. Held the night before the Spring Golf Classic Scramble, the Coaches and Cocktails Reception is the place to be for your chance to get custom team apparel, home and away game fan experiences, opportunities to learn the game of football by ‘Being a coach for a day of Fall Camp” or “Breaking down the Spring Game Film with the Coaches”, and featured this year… Lamar Jackson memorabilia! We have everything from signed Heisman footballs, Lamar Jackson signed jerseys and helmets, and even some awesome custom autographed Lamar Jackson prints. If you are looking for an autographed Lamar Jackson item, the Coaches and Cocktails Reception is the place for you!
Join us in the PNC club next Thursday April 12th from 6:00-9:00pm for your opportunity to hang out with the current U of L football coaching staff and former U of L football and basketball players, enjoy an open bar and Volare appetizers and desserts, bid on auction item you just can’t find anywhere else, and help the Petrino Family Foundation reach its goal of raising over $200,000 this year. To learn more about where that money goes please visit our website www.petrinofamilyfoundation.org
To purchase tickets to Thursday night’s event, just click on the link below!