Following practice Friday, Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson spoke with InsideTheVille.com about a host of subjects. Here are the highlights from our conversation with Coach Watson:
"We're right now where everybody is when they start spring ball - we're getting the timing back," Watson told InsideTheVille.com. "There is a lot of retention from our younger players who played last year and from the guys that were being redshirted. So retention has really been good. They've kept a lot of things they learned last year, both assignment-wise and technique-wise. So we're able to pick up and get running a little quicker.
"We have a lot of work to do. We have to get our timing back. The effort has been great. I've been really happy and pleasantly surprised about what they've retained. It is (an advantage to have ten starters back). We're moving around fast. We're playing confident. We broke ourself down as an offense and took things apart to simply things. That's helped out. And the kids are into what we're doing because I think they know we have a chance to be a good football team."
On Teddy Bridgewater's development
"He's doing a great job. The quarterbacks eyes are a weapon and he's using his eyes. Because he's using his eyes very well he's also using all the parts of the offense. He's not on the base foundation of the play. He's using some alerts that are in the passing offense that allow him to have a deep ball and allow him to take a free access throw. He's had two really stellar days (starting spring practice). He's a different player than what he was during the season. He's not even close to what he was. He's playing really well."
"That's one of our top objectives - we have to be better protecting the passer. He was Houdini and got us out of a lot of stuff last year. We have to protect him. I think we're physically more talented than we were a year ago because the younger players have gotten bigger, stronger and they have advantage of knowledge assignment-wise and technique-wise. The remaining parts of spring we need to test that. We have to get better at protecting him (Bridgewater)."
On Jamon Brown's development at offensive tackle
"Jamon needs to leave his motor running all the time. Jamon Brown can be a great player. Not a good one, but a great one. He has an unbelievable skill set. He's still developing. Once he realizes the talent he has and uses it consistently he can become a dominator. That's something he's got to learn is how to leave his motor running because it's not in his nature right now."
On the outlook at tight end
"We have more depth than we had a year ago. Last year we had to create run game around not having the type of anchor tight end that you need on the edge. Josh did a really nice job in a lot of ways but his real position was an H. So we've got those candidates here. Nate Nord is healthy. That's big because had Nate been healthy he probably would have been the Y and played Josh at H. With Nate being healthy, we moved Aaron Epps that we moved over. Ryan Hubbell has added with Chris White as the two movers. So we have depth and we have more of an in-line tight end that we're looking for to be an edge blocker. Hubbell has downfield talent so we have to see if he can finish the play now."
"We need somebody to be the War Daddy at that position like Bilal Powell was Charlie's first year. You have to have a go-to back and that creates competition and because of competition you create better players throughout. We're going to find a guy that's going to be the guy to go out there and handle the ball. The other guys will play in roles and get touches also. But we want to have a tailback that's a 1,000 yard tailback and beyond."
On who might emerge at running back this spring
"We'll have to see. That's what spring ball is about. It could be Dominique. Jeremy has an unbelievable skill-set. He was just coming off the knee last year and he was a little tentative with confidence. We'll see when we get pads on what that looks like this year. He, Dominique and I tell you, I wouldn't take Senorise Perry out of that because he's so fast and can change the game in one step. And Corvin Lamb, when he was going against our defense he really impressed me. I got excited watching him knowing that we were going to have him for four more years. He's a really good player also. We have depth. We just have to find the guy."