QB race nears finish line

Though Charlie Strong isn't expected to name a starting quarterback until next week, the job appears Will Stein's to lose. UofL QB coach Shawn Watson broke down the race for InsideTheVille.com after practice Tuesday.

Charlie Strong isn't expected to name a starting quarterback for the season opener against Murray State until next week.

One thing is clear, however. Junior Will Stein is the frontrunner to win the job over true freshman Teddy Bridgewater and sophomore Dominique Brown.

"We'll probably (let the competition) go at least until Sunday," Louisville quarterback coach Shawn Watson told InsideTheVille.com following practice Tuesday evening. "We're still testing (them). We had today and we'll have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to finish up our business offensively and evaluate. Then we'll name a starter next week for Murray State."

Though Strong's staff hasn't made a formal declaration, the starting quarterback job appears Stein's to lose.

"That's true right now, that's where we're at," Watson said. "He's had a really good camp. He's had two really good scrimmages. He's done very well and put himself in position to be the lead dog right now.

"Teddy, at the same time, has been battling some nagging injuries and has had to battle back. And this past Saturday he had a really good scrimmage, too. It's important at that position to have competition. They've had to compete every day and we'll keep evaluating them.

"We're ending with situational stuff, getting into more detailed situations that we do during a team or scrimmage period and it helps expose the management aspect."

In what appears a close race for the starting quarterback job, Stein's experience could win out over Bridgewater's talent.

"Will has experience on his side and he has awareness because of that experience," Watson said. "And Teddy has got big talent. He just doesn't have the experience that Will does. That's the difference you see on film right now, it's an experience factor that gives Will an edge. We started camp that way and it has kind of proceeded through camp, but Teddy's talent shows up on film too."

Teddy Bridgewater's talent might not overcome Will Stein's experience - yet.
Despite his inexperience, Bridgewater has made a big impression during fall camp. A former four-star prospect from Miami, Florida, Bridgewater made some big throws in Louisville's scrimmage Saturday, though Watson said he still has to work on his fundamentals.

"He made really big throws," Watson said. "He made some really good decisions, but he made big throws with those decisions. So he's got a natural feel for the position on the anticipated throws a quarterback has to make. He's got that ‘it' factor going for him.

"The thing that he's had to develop is the fundamental aspect. That's learning how to do it on a consistent drop. The rough edges have been the fundamental part of it. The instinctual part he's got."

Bridgewater graduated early from high school and took part in spring practice. That experience helped Bridgewater develop a good grasp of what the Cardinals are trying to do on offense.

"He does (have a good understanding)," Watson said. "He's a natural learner. Typically younger players struggle. He's never done that because he's a good learner and a natural football player. He's never struggled with the learning curve and that's why he's been competitive. You put that with the talent and that's why he's been competitive with an older player like Will who has more experience."

Though Watson said Bridgewater makes good decisions in the passing game, he still has to improve his game-management skills.

"He's done a nice job with the passing aspect of it," Watson said. "He's still growing in the overall management aspect. That's where he's got to grow."

While Bridgewater needs improvement as a game-manager, Stein excels in managing the offense and making the right decisions with the football.

"That's what he brings to the table," Watson said. "He's a guy that you can rely on to put you in the right play, which is very important. You can rely on him to make the right decisions in the passing game verses pressure or base coverage. He's really got the total package and he's a great competitor. He competes in the pocket. He competes by extending plays. Plus, he has the respect of his teammates. He's earned that out here."

With an offensive line that boasts four new starters – five, if center Mario Benavides, who is out with a foot injury, is included – it will be important, whoever wins the quarterback job, to be able to make plays outside the pocket.

"We're blessed to have three of those kinds of guys," Watson said. "All three of them can do that. Will and Teddy in this past scrimmage both put that on film and so did Dom. Dom had some really nice plays. But Teddy and Will can both extend play. They both have great feet, they can get outside the pocket and make throws and they can hurt you running the ball. Will can really hurt you because he's so quick."

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.

Cardinal Authority Top Stories