Cards searching for Bridgewater's backup

University of Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said one of the top priorities during spring practice was finding a backup quarterback. The Cardinals have to replace Will Stein and have several options. Cardinal Authority has an update on the battle to backup Teddy Bridgewater.

There is a quarterback competition with the University of Louisville football program during spring practice this year.

It's just not a competition for the starting position.

Heisman Trophy candidate Teddy Bridgewater is the guy under center for the Cardinals but there's a healthy competition going on to be his back up.

Redshirt freshman Will Gardner and junior-college transfer Brett Nelson are both competition for the spot in spring practice. Lexington Catholic quarterback Kyle Bolin has signed with U of L and will arrive this summer.

"Our backup quarterback has to be a quarterback that we can win a championship with," Watson said. "We have to get those guys some reps and get them ready so they can go in and win games for you.

"Look at what Will (Stein) did for us last year and how important he was, especially in the Rutgers game when Teddy was hurt."

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Gardner was a highly-regarded prospect out of Douglas, Ga., and had a bunch of offers, including Alabama. He injured his knee as a senior at Coffee County High School and also sat out last season with a knee injury.

Watson said he "really likes" what Gardner brings to the table. He has a strong arm and was able to get some reps during bowl practice last season.

"He's a very, very talented thrower," Watson said. "The kid can pass the football. He's one of the best ones I have worked with, just the skill of passing the ball. But he's still gaining confidence and I really don't know his full arm talent or ‘get-it' factor – which is what Teddy brings to the table – until he really feels comfortable with what we are doing. So that's part of the process."

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Nelson enrolled in January after spending two seasons at Southwestern Community College in Chula Vista, Calif. He threw for 4,400 yards and 34 touchdowns in two years at the JUCO.

Watson said both young quarterbacks are still learning the ropes.

"They're both in China right now," Watson said. "Will less than Brett because this is the first time Brett has been through it. Both of them know what to do but they're getting so many different looks for our defense because they've been so aggressive with their install. They're not quite up to speed yet.

"So there's a lot of work left to do."

But Watson said he's "very encouraged" with the progress and knows that the talent level at the position "is very solid. We'll get there."

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