Spring Practice: Shawn Watson talks offense

University of Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson talked exclusively with Cardinal Authority on Tuesday and provided a status report following the Cardinals recent scrimmage.

Directed by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and bolstered by the return of running back Dominique Brown, the University of Louisville first team offense had an excellent scrimmage on Saturday. In the first contact scrimmage of the spring, Bridgewater was nearly perfect in the passing game and Brown ran with authority, finding the end zone three times.

"Dominique Brown was probably the highlight for all of us offensively, because he ran so well," said Cardinals offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. "Teddy, was again off the charts. I think he missed one pass all day."

Watson continues to be impressed by the maturity of the offense and how well they have performed this spring.

"I'm very pleased with our ones," Watson told Cardinal Authority on Tuesday. "We came out here and didn't miss a beat after the bowl game. It's like we picked up right where we left off."

The Cardinals stable of receivers had a great scrimmage and drew praise from Watson, as did a pair of newcomers. Florida transfer tight end Gerald Christian and Tennessee wide receiver transfer Robert Clark.

"Some of the new blood that is in the alignment, I'm really impressed with," said Watson. "Gerald [Christian] played very well. Robert Clark played very well."

While the Cardinals first team appears to be dialed in, the development of the second and third team reserves continues to have it's ups and downs. Watson was quick to point out that there is room for improvement for those filling the depth chart saying, "our younger players have a lot of work to do."

"We had some really bright spots and we also had the obvious thing that you're going to have, especially early in the spring, working with a number of guys who are actually getting to play for the first time," he said. "There have been mistakes, both fundamental and mental mistakes."

The departures of Mario Benavides and Alex Kupper to graduation left a couple open spots along the offensive front line. Juniors Jamon Brown and John Miller continue to play well up front and senior Kamran Joyer has been solid filling the need at center. During the scrimmage, the absence of guard Jake Smith provided an opportunity for another to be noticed.

"On the offensive line, I feel like we have four positions that are pretty nailed down," Watson explained. "I think Jamon Brown and John Miller in particular were exceptional in the scrimmage. I can say the same about Kamron Joyer, he's going to be a good fit at center. At the right guard spot, Jake Smith was out with back spasms, so Chris Acosta, in that second group of guys was probably the biggest surprise. He had a nice scrimmage. Ryan Mack played at the other tackle spot and alternated with Nacho [Garcia] and they were good, but just a little inconsistent, which is to be expected because those are guys moving up."

It's no secret that finding a backup to Teddy Bridgewater is a high priority, but it appears that finding number two is a decision that may not be made until the start of camp later this year.

"Will Gardner has the edge right now," said Watson. "He's just more mentally sound and he should be. Brett [Nelson] is catching up. Right now, it's way to early to decide on who those guys are."

Former Cardinals quarterback Will Stein is back on the practice fields at U of L as a graduate assistant. Stein spent the past three seasons learning under Watson and will now use that experience working with the current stable of signal-callers.

"Honestly, he was like a coach on the field when he was here with us, so it's big," said watson, adding that he believes that the Garnder and Nelson will benefit greatly from his presence. "They can take advantage of all the things he knows, because I taught him, so he knows [the offense]. That gives me more time to spend with the whole unit, so it's nice to have him out here. He's a real nice addition for us."

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