Spring Notebook: Stein vs. Bridgewater

Louisville opened spring practice Wednesday afternoon with a spirited workout on the practice fields just north of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. InsideTheVille.com has the scoop from the practice field.

Louisville opened spring practice Wednesday afternoon with a spirited workout on the practice fields just north of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

The Cardinals wore helmets and shorts for the opening practice, which is mandated by NCAA rules. Louisville will conduct two more practices open to the public Friday afternoon and again Saturday.

A large crowd of several hundred Louisville fans showed up to watch the Cardinals practice. All eyes were on highly-regarded true freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is battling Will Stein for the starting quarterback job.

Though Bridgewater has a big reputation, Stein enters spring practice as the man to beat out for the job.

"I'm fighting for the job," Stein said. "I don't want to come out here with the expectation that I am No. 1 because I think I have to earn it. I try to focus every day on getting better. I feel I can really help this team out next year."

A senior with starting experience, Stein has been impressed with Bridgewater, who enrolled at Louisville this semester.

"He's a pretty soft-spoken guy, but he works really hard," Stein said. "He's got all the talent and ability. He's got a great arm and good feet for a young guy. He's got to develop and learn the game on the mental side."

Freshman wide out Charles Gaines was impressive during Wednesday's first spring practice.
Stein has seen a lot of offensive coordinators come and go during his career at Louisville. With Mike Sanford returning for his second season as Charlie Strong's offensive coordinator, Stein has a good grasp on the offense this spring.

"It helps a lot," Stein said. "I've had so many coaches around here. It's good to have something stable that I know for at least two years in a row. I really feel I know a lot more than I did last year."

Louisville is dealing with several injuries this spring, including to center Mario Benavides and wide receiver Andrell Smith, both projected starters. Does Stein believe all the injuries will negatively impact Louisville's offense this spring?

"It shouldn't be that bad," Stein said. "Receiver-wise we've got Andrell out which is big. Mario is an experienced guy so I'm not too worried about him. It gives a chance for these young guys to step up, prove themselves and get better."

Senior wide receiver Josh Bellamy, who was a key contributor last year after transferring from junior college, was impressed the way his teammates approached practice.

"I feel like everybody came to practice and never dropped off like we're still in season," Bellamy said. "I feel like we picked up where we left off even though we lost some guys."

Bellamy made several impressive plays Wednesday in the passing game and could be a star for Louisville's offense next season.

"I feel like I'm more calmed down," Bellamy said. "I was thinking a lot last year running my routes. Now it just feels normal and I just come out and play."

Practice Notebook

Teddy Bridgewater made his debut at Louisville and it was a promising first practice for the former U.S. Army All-American quarterback from Miami. After practice, coaches and players raved about his maturity and work ethic.

Senior wide receiver Josh Bellamy appears to be poised for a breakout senior season. He made a bunch of big plays Wednesday in practice.

Another true freshman, wide receiver Charles Gaines, also stood out Wednesday, making two spectacular catches downfield. Gaines physically reminds of former Louisville star Zek Parker, but is elusive like Harry Douglas.

Tight end Stephon Ball had a great practice and looks to be back strong after a knee injury cost him last season. Ball made a bunch catches during practice and should fill in well for Cameron Graham.

The key for the offense will be the development of the offensive line. The numbers are down this spring, and several walk-ons are getting practice repetitions. Starting center Mario Benavides is out after having knee surgery. It will be interesting to see how much progress this unit can make this spring.

Louisville has a good looking linebacker corps with a lot of young talent. It's a very athletic group with sophomores Preston Brown and Deon Rogers and freshman Brandon Golson, but the key will be the leadership provided by Dexter Heyman in the middle. Expect Heyman to be up for the challenge.

Speaking of Golson, he is an impressive looking freshman. He's bigger than Rogers, and appears capable of getting into the backfield using his quickness.

Sophomore Marcus Smith looks the part at his new defensive end position. He's a big guy, up to 6-4, 251, and simply out-grew the linebacker position he played last season.

It looked like a crowded YMCA workout room with all the injured players riding stationary bikes during practice. Several players were on the crutches at practice.

Several recruits, including Indiana offensive line prospects Sid Anvoots and DeAndre Herron, and Seneca lineman Tyrone Pearson attended practice.

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