Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson spoke Tuesday at a local luncheon about all things Cardinals, from the way last season went, to spring football, to standouts both on offense and defense.
Here is a little of what he had to say:
On where the team stands headed into fall practice: We all walked out of spring ball feeling really good about the growth that had taken place in our program. We'll all tell you we're not a finished product. We have a lot of polish to put on our game. We want to see ourselves play a clean game. ... Consistency isn't quite there yet. We have a chance to be really good because we have some good, young players in the program. But at the same time, we have got a lot of work ahead of us. We have to keep pushing, and that's one of the things with young players. No matter how gifted they are, we have to keep developing. We can't rely on talent alone.
On managing those preseason expectations: A lot of people are going to pick us to do well. … We have talent but we have to develop that talent. It's on players and coaches alike. We have to go to work. Just because of how we finished the season, what we did last year doesn't mean anything this year. We have to go out and humbly earn it. We have a saying around the office: Stay humble. Stay hungry. If you stay humble, you'll be hungry.
On the development of safety Calvin Pryor and the secondary: Calvin made us a much better secondary. He really became a force as a safety and he impacted the game. This spring, he was lights out. He played like a veteran. Our back end, he, (Adrian) Bushell, Hakeem Smith and Andrew Johnson, all those kids have developed. Vance (Bedford) has done an excellent job with those guys. This year, we have talent, we have depth, and depth is all kids who have played.
On the line: Brandon Dunn had an excellent spring, he pops to mind right away. Roy Philon has developed into one of the better players in the Big East. ... Marcus Smith was a better player in spring than he was in the fall because he finally grew into the position.
On Teddy Bridgewater: Teddy is the best I've ever been around. It’s easy to say because you saw the type of year he had but what's neat about Teddy, his character is his greatest attribute. He's a good passer, he's a good athlete, but his character is what makes him the player that he is. I've never been around a kid that studies the game the way he does. He's the kind of kid that internalizes teaching. You never see the same mistakes twice on film. He's willing to put the extra time in to make it right. He gets a lot of push from Will Stein. Will Stein is his X factor. Like a second coach to him. We're blessed to have two quarterbacks we can win a championship with.
On the receivers: Overall it's one of the better groups I’ve ever worked with. DeVante Parker, I hope that some day we all see him realize his full potential because he's exceptional. I call him ball fetcher because no matter where the ball is, he finds a way to go get it. He's got great hands, he's faster than what he looks. ... I think he can be a great player. He'll come into his own. Andrell Smith really came through. Damian Copeland had a good spring. He's had injuries a little bit, and he just has been working to realize his talent. He found it this spring, so the challenge will be to put it on film in the fall. Eli Rogers had a good spring. Scott Radcliff, I don't know what I'd do without Scott. He's my security blanket. He's what every coach needs. That group is in good hands.
On the tight ends: Our tight position was the most improved position on our offense. Nate Nord had an outstanding spring. Nate has been injury plagued. The nice thing about Nate, he’s really found himself. … Ryan Hubbell’s been a nice surprise for us and great addition to that room because he's going to be exactly what we hoped when we recruited him. Good run blocker, good pass receiver, embodies the whole profile at tight end. With Chris White, we’ll have three really good ones, and that gives us a chance to be multiple with our personnel groups.
On the running backs: A guy who put himself in a great position was Senorise Perry. He’s got great speed, he can finish runs, probably possess something you saw Bilal Powell do a couple years ago. He’s got that kind of finishing speed. He can make the third level defender miss. Jeremy Wright, he got better, he had to become more consistent. Then Dominique Brown was one of the key moves we made moving him from quarterback to tailback. He’s having to grow into tailback. He had a good spring also. (Corvin) Lamb, he’s got the same kind of finishing speed Senorise has, and he’s a good inside runner.
On the offensive line: The best thing about our offensive line today is we have depth. A year ago, we were developing depth. We didn’t know what we had. Now those guys have solidified themselves. Right now, we feel we’ve got 10 kids that we feel like can play. (Kamran) Joyner surprised as a backup. Right now he’s put himself in position to compete with John Miller for the starting job. Ryan Mack did the same thing. Out of that group, Jamon Brown could be a first-round draft choice. He’s a freak. I’ve never been around a kid like him with that much athleticism. He’s got that kind of talent, he just has to develop the confidence.