Tag:Will Stein
Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 10:20 am
 

Louisville C Benavides (ankle) ready to return

Posted by Chip Patterson

Louisville's struggling offensive line should finally get an upgrade with the return of center Mario Benavides. The junior offensive lineman was the starter for most of 2009 and 2010, but has missed the first three games of the season with an ankle injury.

"I feel like I'm going to play," Benavides told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "The main thing is getting into a rhythm. Playing offensive line is the most unnatural human position you can play, just the whole technique of it."

The veteran center admitted he's still out of game shape, and needs to get acclimated to a brand new rotation along the offensive line. Louisville's young team is still getting adjusted to the new personnel, and the benefactors have been opposing defenses. Through three games, the Cardinals rank 116th nationally in sacks allowed per game (3.67). Only Pittsburgh is worse in the Big East - allowing 18 sacks in four games of action (4.50 per game).

The questions regarding the rotations on the offensive line have been matched with questions in the offensive backfield for head coach Charlie Strong. Junior Will Stein has started all three games for the Cardinals, but Strong has used freshman Teddy Bridgewater for several series and Dominique Brown in the "Wildcard" package.

When Stein suffered a shoulder injury in the the second quarter of Louisville's 24-17 victory over Kentucky, it was Bridgewater who filled in and led the Cardinals to win in the battle for the Governor's Cup. Even with a week off, Stein is still listed as questionable for Saturday's matchup with Marhsall. According to reports, Stein did not participate in contact drills on Wednesday, but did begin throwing passes. If the junior is not able to play against the Thundering Herd, Strong confirmed earlier in the week Bridgewater would get the start.

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Posted on: September 19, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Strong: Stein and Bridgewater will both see field

Posted by Chip Patterson

Louisville's 2-1 start to the second season under head coach Charlie Strong has not exactly been graceful. After their offense was shut out in the second half of a 21-9 opening day win over Murray State, the Cardinals were burned by T.Y. Hilton and FIU before getting back on track against Kentucky in the annual matchup for the Governor's Cup.

The 24-17 victory over the Wildcats featured a strong performance from highly-touted freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinals have been using Bridgewater and Wildcard quarterback Dominique Brown all season, but a shoulder injury to starting quarterback Will Stein gave the true freshman from Miami his first chance to develop a rhythm while quarterbacking several successive drives.

Bridgewater made the most of the opportunity, completing 10 of 18 passes for 106 yards and two interceptions. The most important aspect of Bridgewater's performance, according to Strong, was his ability to manage the game and keep the Cardinals from turning the ball over.

In Monday's Big East coaches teleconference, Strong said that Will Stein will likely be ready to play again Oct. 1 when the Cardinals face Marshall. According to the head coach Stein could have returned to the field against Kentucky if he was needed, but the combination of Bridgewater's play and the Cardinals' second half lead kept the junior quarterback out of harms' way.

Saturday also showcased Dominique Brown lining up at several different positions offensively. His primary role until the Kentucky game was a Wildcard quarterback, but Brown lined up as both running back and wide receiver at different times against their in-state rivals. Strong laughed off the notion that it was a secret he was saving for Kentucky, suggesting instead that Brown is too athletic to not get a chance at those skill positions.

The young Cardinals team will benefit from a week off before starting conference play in mid-October. Strong expects to continue using Stein and Bridgewater together at quarterback, while featuring Brown as the Wildcard quarterback and possibly more. With so many underclassmen getting game reps already - particularly at positions on the offensive line - Strong will get to use this week for teaching.

Which is good for the Cardinals, who are in need of some learning.

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Posted on: September 18, 2011 2:45 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Sept. 17)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. The Big East lost big time on Saturday, and never saw it coming. Big East commissioner John Marinatto sat down in Byrd Stadium on Saturday to watch West Virginia take on Maryland. When he made the arrangements to attend the game, I bet he didn't know that he would be in an ACC stadium while being informed of reports Pittsburgh and Syracuse are leaving for that very conference. When reached for comment about the reports, Marinatto had none. Based on reports from the stadium, the commissioner never saw it coming.

If true, it is incredibly embarrassing for the league office and not a great sign for the league members. TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte already expressed his concerns regarding the shifts in conference alignment, and the departure of two teams has led to league officials reaching out to current Big 12 members. It's possible that if Oklahoma and Texas leave the Big 12, the remaining members (likely that Oklahoma State would follow OU, possible Texas Tech follows Texas) could fold in with the remaining members of the Big East.

From a conference perspective, league officials needed to decide whether they wanted to play offense or defense in realignment. Texas A&M started the process, but the power move was made on Saturday when the Big East lost two more schools to the ACC - bringing the tally to five schools in a decade. Syracuse was a founding member of the conference, and Pittsburgh had become a perennial contender in football and basketball. The Big East only added TCU as their offensive move, and were completely unprepared for Saturday's news defensively. The conference only has a $5 million exit fee, as opposed to the recently approved $20 million exit fee for the ACC (unanimously voted on last week by the school presidents). The Big East lost two schools, and a lot of leverage in conference realignment. Now John Marinatto must scramble, and make efforts to secure TCU's interest in the conference as well as develop a plan to replace the departed universities. Ironically, the conference went 4-2 on Saturday. Only Pittsburgh and Syracuse picked up losses.

2. Give West Virginia the ball and flip a coin, if it's heads they'll score. The Mountaineers finally got a ground game going in the 37-31 win at Maryland on Saturday, with Andrew Buie, Vernard Roberts, and Shawne Alston combining for 107 yards on 25 attempts. The numbers aren't fantastic, but it is an upgrade from where the rushing attack was heading into College Park. Head coach Dana Holgorsen mentioned that teams were daring West Virginia's offense to run the ball, and if they couldn't make it a threat it would be a weakness moving forward.

Instead of the run setting up the pass, the pass sets up the run in Morgantown. The mere presence of a rushing threat completes an already efficient West Virginia offense. On the season the Mountaineers have scored on 17 of 31 drives uninterrupted by the end of a half. Give West Virginia the ball, there's more than a 50% chance that Geno Smith will methodically march down the field and turn the possession into points on the scoreboard. With West Virginia's secondary causing all kinds of trouble for 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien, you have to feel good about the state of West Virginia's offense. Of course, we reach this conclusion one week before the Mountaineers face LSU's defense. I believe they present just a little bit of a different threat than the Terps.

3. USF does not get caught "playing to their competition." - The Bulls' offense scored less than 20 points on five different occasions in 2010. I'm willing to bet it doesn't happen more than twice in 2011, if even that. South Florida refused to play down to their Sun Belt opponents on Saturday, lighting up the scoreboard in the 70-17 victory. The blowout comes on the heels of a 37-7 route of Ball State, where BJ Daniels really started to get the Bulls' offense clicking. Everything was moving in full gear against the Rattlers, with Daniels setting a career-high for the second week in a row tossing for 382 yards and four touchdowns. USF scored on eight of their first ten drives, and also featured the breakout of Colorado transfer Darrell Scott. Scott put up career numbers as well with 146 yards rushing, 84 yards receiving, and four total touchdowns. The Notre Dame win felt like it more of a Irish loss at the time, but the sloppy, rain-delayed victory might have been the spark to kick off a potentially memorable season for the young program.

4. Pittsburgh's defense has to improve second half performance. A huge red flag went up last weekend, when the Panthers allowed a blatantly inferior Maine squad climb back into the game in the fourth quarter. The Black Bears did score their final touchdown with three seconds remaining, resulting in a misleading six-point victory, but the it was concerning nonetheless. The trend of poor second half defense finally caught up with the Panthers against Iowa on Saturday, resulting in a 31-27 loss.

Kevin Harper's 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter gave Pitt a seemingly safe 27-10 lead. Then this touted 3-4 defense sat back and allowed James Vandenberg to go to work on the secondary. Iowa's offense put up 201 of their 475 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter, sending the Panthers packing with no answers for their poor play. The Panthers will get one more non-conference game to fix these issues before kicking off the Big East schedule against South Florida at home. Unfortunately for the Panthers, next week's opponent is a much-improved Notre Dame squad fresh off a confidence-building victory against Michigan State.

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Posted on: September 11, 2011 1:27 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 1:28 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Sept. 10)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. The conference got a reality check after 8-0 start. I wrote earlier this week about the Big East not getting to comfy with their undefeated record, and my suspicions became true this weekend. The conference went 4-4 with South Florida's victory over Ball State being the only win against an FBS opponent. Syracuse and Pittsburgh had to hold off late rallies from Rhode Island and Maine, while Rutgers and Connecticut were unable to capitalize on multiple opportunities to defeat North Carolina and Vanderbilt. But the weekend of frustration for the conference started with Louisville's 24-17 loss at home to Florida International.

2. Louisville's offensive line has to be fixed. Florida International exposed a glaring weakness in the Louisville offense on Friday night in their 24-17 victory over the Cardinals. The Panthers defense sacked Will Stein seven times and held running backs Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson to a combined 83 yards on 28 carries (2.9 ypc). Youth has been a concern for Louisville coming into the season, particularly with four new starters on the offensive line. But the performance against FIU was embarrassing for Charlie Strong's squad, and now the entire nation knows where and how to beat the Cardinals. Luckily, their next game is their annual matchup with Kentucky - who looks even worse. My thoughts are that Strong uses Kentucky and the next bye week to fix the issues. But that's probably a lot more hope than thought.

3.Pittsburgh is still adjusting to new systems on both sides of the ball. Todd Graham was supposed to bring the "high octane" offense to Pittsburgh, but the only player up to speed appears to be running back Ray Graham. Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson installed a 3-3-5 attacking defense, and spent time refining it with Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. But neither system appeared to be clicking in the Panthers' 35-29 win over Maine on Saturday. Quarterback Tino Sunseri could not get synced with his receivers, only finding success on short and intermediate routes due to heavy pressure from Maine's defensive front. He was sacked seven times and tossed two interceptions before getting replaced by true freshman Trey Anderson.

The defense was picked apart by Maine quarterback Warren Smith in the second half, with the senior signal caller totaling 334 yards and three touchdowns in a failing effort to bring the Black Bears back from a 20-7 halftime deficit. The defense was hardly "attacking" down the stretch, and if Maine can make Pitt pay the Panthers have some serious concerns heading into next week's non-conference showdown with Iowa.

4. West Virginia's offense needs a consistent rushing attack. The statement sounds critical, but that is only because of how productive the offense is when the Mountaineers can move the ball on the ground. When Norfolk State was holding a 12-10 lead over West Virginia at halftime, they were daring head coach Dana Holgorsen to run the ball with only four men in the box. The Mountaineers were not able to get anything going on the ground with either Andrew Buie or Vernard Roberts, and Geno Smith was struggling to find receivers open in space. When the Mountaineers starting creating holes for their backs in the second half, it opened up the entire field and sparked the 45-0 second half run.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:19 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 12:11 am
 

QUICK HITS: FIU 24, Louisville 17

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

FIU WON: There was no question which team had the best player on the field, and in the end, that player left no doubt about which was the best team on the field. Golden Panther All-American candidate T.Y. Hilton dominated the game, finishing with a school record 201 yards receiving (on just 7 receptions, a 28.7-yard average) and 268 all-purpose yards. His touchdown receptions of 74 and 83 yards broke open the game in the first half and the FIU defense held the Cards to just seven second-half points.

WHY FIU WON: Aside from Hilton's game-defining explosiveness, the Golden Panthers also benefited from Louisville's total inability to finish drives. The Cardinals outgained FIU 498-293 for the game but time and again crossed midfield only to come away empty-handed ... or worse, as was the case when Will Stein ended the Cards' first possession (and a 10-play drive) with a 74-yard pick-six that put FIU up 7-0 early. 

From there Louisville put together drives of 29, 53, 25, and (in the fourth quarter) a backbreaking 76 yards -- with FIU stuffing runs on both 3rd- and 4th-and 1 after those 76 yards -- that resulted in a grand total of three points. The game was summed up by the Cards' follow-up drive to that failure, which began at midfield and featured an incredible scramble and completion by Stein to convert 3rd-and-13, setting his team up first-and-10 at the FIU 33 ... only for the Panthers' Tourek Williams to come up with a 13-yard sack on the very next play.

WHEN FIU WON: Three plays after that sack, Stein's desperation deep ball to Josh Chichester was broken up, and FIU took over up 14 points with just under 6 minutes to play. (At that point, Louisville had spent two drives running 21 plays, covering 84 yards, and eating up 10 minutes of clock ... and producing zero points.) Though not officially done until FIU recovered an onsides kick and forced the Cards to start their last-gasp drive inside their own 3, after that turnover on downs anything short of an Auburn-style miracle would result in an FIU win.

WHAT FIU WON: An impressive 2-0 start and the program's first-ever win over a BCS-conference program, for starters. But the unquestioned status of 2011 Sun Belt favorite, too, and for Hilton, maybe even some honest-to-goodness Heisman candidacy buzz.

WHAT LOUISVILLE LOST: Just about all the 2011 optimism lingering from Charlie Strong's encouraging 2010 debut. No doubt Strong's effective recruiting and solid defensive coaching will have the Cards competitive throughout the season and Big East title contenders in future campaigns. But this year's edition is too young on the offensive line and too shaky in the secondary to expect anything more than a low-level bowl appearance--a modest goal that after tonight's loss might still prove to be out of reach.


Posted on: September 7, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 11:42 am
 

Louisville will use 3 quarterbacks against FIU

Posted by Chip Patterson

Louisville's offensive performance, particularly in the second half, was less than spectacular in their debut against Murray State on Thursday. Head coach Charlie Strong acknowledged that his team, while victorious, still had plenty of things to improve on heading into their matchup on Friday with Florida International.

"It's great to get a win. But we didn't play well in the second half, it was like a tale of two halves," Strong said in this week's Big East teleconference. "The first half we scored three out of first four drives, second half we couldn't move the ball at all. You know if's your first game, but you have to finish."

Not only did the Cardinals struggle moving the ball, they also turned it over to the Racers four times. Two of those turnovers came from quarterbacks Will Stein (fumble) and Teddy Bridgewater (interception). But Strong has not changed his stance on the quarterback position at all, and he will plan to use three different players under center on Friday.

Stein will once again get the start, with the touted-freshman Bridgewater seeing some action and Dominique Brown running the specialized "Wildcard" package. Stein's success came mostly in the first half, but he finished with 226 yards passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Bridgewater's college debut was short lived, and the freshman did not attempt another pass after his interception.

There is a lot of excitement about Bridgewater's ability, but Thursday confirmed many suspicions that the Miami-native still has some adjusting to do before stepping in as the leader of the offense. Luckily, Stein has proven he can be a productive starter for the Cardinals while their prized recruit gets acclimated to the college game.
Posted on: July 10, 2011 7:13 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 7:28 pm
 

Tyler Gabbert's transfer destination still TBD?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We thought we'd gotten Tyler Gabbert's transfer situation all settled, hadn't we? The ex-Missouri quarterback and younger brother of former Tiger star Blaine Gabbert was welcomed into the Louisville program with open arms by none other than Cardinal head coach Charlie Strong just 10 days ago.

But that arrangement might not have been as permanent as we (or Strong) thought. According to Mike Rutherford of Louisville blog Card Chronicle, sources have told both he and the local ESPN radio station that Gabbert will not in fact be part of the Cardinal program, and that he has already packed his bags for either home or a transfer destination still unknown.

We'd advise taking this with a grain of salt until either Gabbert himself or the Cardinals confirm the report (the latter probably won't happen until Strong returns from an overseas trip Wednesday). But it's not hard to see Gabbert deciding that maybe Louisville wasn't the place for him, given the pitched battle behind starter Will Stein and this quote from Gabbert's father after Strong had announced his arrival: 

“It’s safe to say Tyler will be enrolling somewhere and attending school next week,” Chuck Gabbert told Sporting News. “He will be attending class next week at his chosen university where he’ll be pursuing his college football career also.”

No, given the context, that hardly sounds like a full commitment to the Cards.

So nothing is yet written in stone where Gabbert is concerned; maybe he still winds up with Strong and coordinator Shawn Watson (who the Gabberts have long been close to) at Louisville, and maybe he doesn't. But if we had to put money on one or the other, at this stage we'd be forced to go with "doesn't." 

Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:39 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:11 am
 

Tyler Gabbert chooses Louisville

Posted by Chip Patterson

Since joining Louisville, Cardinals coach Charlie Strong has been aggressive on the recruiting trail when it comes to quarterbacks. First the second-year coach snagged highly-touted recruit Teddy Bridgewater from Miami before signing day, and on Thursday, he unofficially welcomed Missouri transfer Tyler Gabbert to the program.



Gabbert, the younger brother of the Jacksonville Jaguars' first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, spent his freshman year with his brother at Missouri, but after losing the quarterback battle to James Franklin in spring practice, Gabbert opted to transfer in May.

Both Tyler and his older brother Blaine originally committed to Nebraska before changing their decision to Missouri. Former Cornhuskers offensive coordinator Shawn Watson (who recruited both brothers heavily while at Nebraska) is now the quarterbacks coach on Strong's staff. Gabbert's arrival gives Louisville a full stable of quarterbacks for 2012. While junior Will Stein will be the starting quarterback entering fall camp, Bridgewater has made it clear he will be ready whenever his name is called. Once Gabbert joins the duo next fall, Strong will have three different quarterbacks competing for snaps in 2012.

While some might argue that the position is too crowded, I can guarantee you a surplus of talent is not something that Louisville fans will be complaining about.
 
 
 
 
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