Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said two weeks ago that Stein would start if the season started then, and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford concurred with that assessment after Saturday's scrimmage.
Though the offense struggled with penalties and turnovers Saturday, Stein, a junior from Trinity HS, helped direct an offensive attack that reached the end zone 11 times during the 125-play scrimmage. Though the scrimmage was closed, all indications are that UofL's offense had a solid day of work.
"I think the offense was much better than the first scrimmage, but we still have a lot to improve," Stein said. "Our passing game was pretty good. Me, Teddy (Bridgewater) and Dominique (Brown) threw for a lot of yards and we scored 11 touchdowns as an offense. There is a lot we can build on."
There are also a few areas Stein and the Louisville offense are working to clean up this week in practice, namely nine false start penalties that slowed the offense during Saturday's scrimmage.
"We've got some young guys up front and without Mario (Benavides) in there we didn't have anybody to take charge of that," Stein said. "A lot of them were snap infractions, stuff that's very easily fixed. Today (Monday) we didn't have any problems with false starts. I think it will be fine by game one."
Benavides, Louisville's only returning starter on the offensive line, is out with a foot injury and may not return to action for several weeks. Kamran Joyer, who began as a starter at guard, has moved to center in Benavides' stead. True freshman John Miller stepped into Joyer's guard position with the first team.
"It's not too bad because you add a guy like John Miller who is physically ready to play and you move Kam Joyer to center who knows everything and is physically ready to play but snapping has been a process with him," Stein said. "He's been a guard his whole life and never been a center. As long as he keeps improving in that area then we'll be fine up front. Under center is fine, but sometimes in (shot) gun his snaps get left or right. We practice every day and he's getting better. By game one we should have no problems."
Despite the false starts and Joyer's occasional off-target shotgun snaps, Stein said Louisville's re-shuffled o-line provided enough time for the quarterbacks to survey the field and find wide receivers down field during Saturday's scrimmage.
"We had some guys really stretch the field," Stein said of Saturday's scrimmage. "(Josh) Bellamy and Andrell (Smith) had a good day. Eli Rogers had some great catches. Him and Teddy (Bridgewater) hooked up a couple times. Our o-line protected us well. That's definitely a positive."
Stein said Louisville has more weapons on offense this season.
"There are a lot of big play guys," Stein said. "Not that we didn't have that last year, but we have more this year. We now have guys you can really count on over the middle. Eli had a good diving catch during the scrimmage. Michaelee (Harris) had a big slant and go route for a big gain. DeVante (Parker) makes big catches every day. So we've got guys out there that can really stretch the field and we're confident as quarterbacks throwing to them."
And despite the big-play production from Louisville's receivers, Stein says he's seen improvement out of the Cardinals inexperienced cornerbacks during preseason camp.
"They've gotten so much better since day one," Stein said. "Anthony Conner is a senior and he's been working so hard for this. He's come out with purpose and he's a tough matchup for anybody. Guys like (Terrell) Floyd, (Charles) Gaines and Andrew Johnson they're all ready to play, too. They've got a lot of speed and a good feel for the game."
Copyright, InsideTheVille.com. 2011. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction, duplication, and other unauthorized copying, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. All InsideTheVille.com content is protected by copyright and shall not be used for any purpose whatsoever other than private, non-commercial viewing purposes.