With about 14 days remaining until the start of fall practice, the University of Louisville football team is ready to get the second season under head coach Charlie Strong underway.
The 5:45 a.m. runs are becoming long and tedious in this extreme heat. The lifts in the weight room are becoming tiresome and hot. The players are getting restless for the start of practice on August 4 at 6 a.m.
One player excited to get started is junior quarterback Will Stein, who enters camp in a quarterback battle for the starting job with true freshman Teddy Bridgewater, one of the top quarterbacks coming out of high school.
“Camp is coming up and we’re very excited to start a new season,” said Stein. “We are looking forward to getting in pads and start practicing football, and not just running. The guys have worked hard and are in great shape.”
Heading into the second season of the Strong era, Stein and his teammates understand where the head coach is coming from after he helped guide the team to a bowl game after a three-year drought.
“After a year of coach Strong and the rest of the staff, we get a feel about what they want out of us. We really respect them because what they told us and taught us has really paid off. Looking at last season, they took our team and made us into a winning team, and everyone is excited to get the second season underway.”
There is no secret that the main battle heading into camp is the quarterback position. The most attention will obviously be placed on this position, and it’s a battle that will be fun to watch as fall camp progresses. However, you have to love Stein’s approach to the battle as he heads into his fourth season in the program.
“I hear a lot about it,” said Stein. “I just focus on my job, and my job is to be a leader on this team. I’m a winner through and through, and whoever is the best person for the job to win to make this program take a step foward, then that is who needs to play quarterback. If that is me, I’m ready for the challenge. If it’s not me, then I will be the best person to help them through that. In my mind, I’m the quarterback and that is how I’m approaching the start of fall camp.”
For a quarterback to be successful, he needs to have a good offensive line in front of him. Strong was adamant that the offensive line was the strength of the team a year ago, but four of the five starters are gone. However, Stein isn’t asking “Where’s the Beef.” He knows there is talent on the offensive line returning.
The offensive line has a lot of good players on it,” said Stein. “Mario Benavides has started 24 of 25 games and I saw where Mel Kiper has Mario as the second-best junior center in the country. Alex Kupper has really stepped up on the offensive line and can really play. Seniors Hector Hernandez and Ryan Kessling have stepped up. Jake Smith can play and offensive line coach Dave Borbely is one of the best coaches in the country.”
Stein and the Cardinals start practice on Aug. 4.