We are less than a month away from the start of college football season and you know what that means: it’s time for the Pinkie to act like we know what we’re talking about and release our positional previews. Today, I’ll take a look at the quarterback position for the Louisville football Cardinals. Unlike last year, in which the Cards had multiple experienced contenders for the starting job, the 2011 QB battle involves three guys with little, to no meaningful experience. In order for the Cardinals to get back to a second strait bowl game, one man will have to emerge and take the job. Who will it be?
The favorite has to be Will Stein. As I said above, this quarterback unit has very little experience and 99.9% of that experience comes from Will Stein. For his career, Will started two games in 2009 (Arkansas St. and West Virginia) and then filled in for an injured Justin Burke against Rutgers last year. Stein played decent in those games, going a combined 52-92 for 522 yards with a touchdown and interception.
The reason I feel Will Stein is the favorite is because of his knowledge of the offense. Will is much more versed in the playbook than his competitors and even though Teddy Bridgewater has been here since January and Dominique Brown is now a sophomore, Stein is much more familiar with the nuances of the offense. Charlie Strong does not ask much of his quarterbacks; he pretty much only demands they don’t turn the football over, so the fact that Stein may not be able to shred you from the pocket or burn the defense with a 55 yard scramble is of no consequence.
Moreover, Strong loves Stein’s toughness and competitiveness. Charlie has said repeatedly since Spring football he is perfectly fine with Will as the quarterback and the others would definitely have to beat him out. At this point, I don’t feel anything has changed and if the season started today, Stein would get the reps under center.
Since the season does not start on August 9th, there is still time for someone to beat out Will Stein. If anyone is going to do that, it’s going to be freshman Teddy Bridgewater. He is much more physically gifted than Will and if you rank the quarterbacks by pure talent, Bridgewater easily gets the top spot. Teddy has a strong arm and also poses a threat with his feet. He does not have the game-changing speed Michael Vick possessed earlier in his career, but Teddy does has more than enough to bust a long run if the play breaks down. With uncertainty along the UofL offensive line, that could work in his favor.
Teddy will play regardless. Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford has said they are going to work him into the offensive gameplan every week to get experience. The talent is there for Bridgewater without question. The big issue, in determining whether or not he can become the every week starter, is how he masters the playbook and analyzes the defense. Stein is well ahead in those areas at this point, but the exciting thing is once Teddy figures that out, he’ll be extremely tough to stop.
Do not forget about sophomore Dominique Brown. Yes, I know he only attempted a single pass last year which led to a tipped interception. Yes, I realize if you watched him throw in pre-game he struggled consistently throwing the ball 15 yards without bouncing it. I’m well aware of all his shortcomings when it comes to throwing the football.
I’m also aware this guy is a superb athlete and if you watched the Spring game closely, Dominique showed a much improved delivery and threw some decent balls in a game in which every quarterback struggled. I am in no way suggesting Dominique will win the starting job and truthfully, I think the only way he does start is if both Stein and Bridgewater get injured. However, if they choose to bring Dominique in for WildCard snaps as they did last year, I think you’ll see him throw the ball and add a new dimension to the UofL offense.
The Pinkie’s Prediction
When we finally kick it off on September 1 against Murray State, I think we are going to see Will Stein get the starting snaps. I think his experience and mental acuity will keep him just ahead of Teddy Bridgewater when the season opens. However, I believe with Teddy gaining experience as the season progresses, by the time November hits, he will get the majority of the reps. I have nothing against Will Stein at all and love the fire he plays with. I just feel Teddy’s talent will eventually take over and give him the edge.
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