LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
It's officially game week for the University of Louisville football team as it prepares for the season opener versus Kentucky on Sunday, Sept. 2, at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
The Cardinals are set to begin their third season under head coach Charlie Strong, but this is the first time in almost three seasons that the staff feels like the team is where it needs to be from a depth standpoint.
However, one position that has been the talk of training camp has been the running back situation. While there is no set starter to this point, the position isn't short on talent. It's trying to figure out who will get the bulk of the carries.
"We told the players we are going to let the evaluation run throughout the week," said offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. "We have challenged them with protection. We are seeing the benefits of that. They have done a good job. It's a tight battle. It's a good one."
Juniors Dominique Brown, Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright all have an abundance of game experience, but the staff will look to one of these guys to separate themselves from the group. But having three backs of this caliber isn't a burden, it's a luxury, and Watson knows what he has in all three players.
"They can all three play," said Watson. "They can all three run. They are all playing to be the guy who will get the most playing time."
One person not fretting over not naming a starter yet is running backs coach Kenny Carter, who has the luxury of deciding who he wants to be the starter.
"It keeps us very calm," said Carter. "We are a West Coast system. It gives us the opportunity to play two guys at the same time. Now, whether it's one guy at a fullback or one guy at what we call a P, or its one guy at the tailback position, it just helps us. We are going to split them out at receiver with two of them in the game. It's going to be fun."
If the Cardinals are going to be a successful team and reach all their goals, the offense has to be more productive than it was a year ago, and Watson likes where the offensive is right now, but he knows the unit can still get better.
"I feel like we have had a good camp," said Watson. "The guys have picked up from where they left off this spring. We stay humble around here, because every time we turn around something happens. We have a clear picture in our heads of what we want it to be like, and what we want it to look like. We want to play clean football, but we aren't there yet. We have a lot of things we have to continue to work for, and that's the nice thing about working with this staff."
Sophomore Teddy Bridgewater begins his second season as a starter and seems to be more comfortable with his teammates and what the West Coast offense is all about.
"That is what the West Coast offense is all about. It's just timing and spacing," said Bridgewater. "You have to get timed up with the wide receivers and quarterbacks."
So far, through the first three weeks of practice, it looks like Bridgewater and the entire offense are starting to get a firm grasp on what this unit needs to do to be successful.