First-year offensive coordinator Shawn Watson couldn’t ask for a better situation. Even though he took over the offensive midway through the 2011 season, Watson is finally able to install his offense this year, and with 10 starters back on offense, he can hit the ground running, especially with his starting quarterback returning in sophomore Teddy Bridgewater.
Watson has been pleased with what he has seen thus far with his young quarterback through the first three practices.
“He is doing a great,” said Watson. “He is using his eyes well, and because he is using his eyes so well, he is able to use his weapons. He is using all parts of the offense. He has two stellar days. He is a different player than what we saw last year. It’s not even close.”
Because of the experience coming back on offense, the Watson and the offensive staff doesn’t have to waste a lot of timing installing the offense. Louisville returns four of five starters on the offensive line, three of its main running backs and most of its wide receiving corp.
“Right now, we are where everyone is when they start spring practice. We are trying to get the timing back. There is a lot of retention from the players that played last year and the ones who red-shirted. We have a lot of work to do to get our timing back. The effort has been great. I’ve been happy and surprised with how well they retained things from last year.”
The one question mark on offense is at tight end where the Cardinals must overcome the loss of Josh Chichester. Louisville has Nate Nord and Chris White back, but also added junior-college transfer Ryan Hubbell and also moved Aaron Epps from offensive tackle to tight end.
“We have more depth there this year,” said Watson. “Last year, we had to re-create the run game around the fact that we didn’t have a true tight end. Nate Nord is healthy which is big. We have Aaron Epps and we added Ryan Hubbell and Chris White. We have depth. Ryan could be a down field guy. He has down the field talent.”
Watson is excited about the running back position, but wants to find a guy who was like Bilal Powell in 2010.
“We need someone to be the war daddy at that position, like Bilal Powell was in Strong’s first season,” said Watson. “Biggest thing we look back at is not having a go-to guy,” said Watson. “We have to find a go-to-guy. That creates competition in the room and makes everyone better.”
The Cardinals were very inexperienced last year on offense, but with Watson there full-time and 10 starters back, the Cardinals are ready to turn the corner.