Midway through the third game of the season, Louisville's starting quarterback went down and the coaching staff replaced him with freshman Teddy Bridgewater, who went on to win Big East Rookie of the year honors.
Quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson is entering his first full season as the offensive coordinator for the Cardinals after taking the reigns with five games remaining last season. His main focus during the off season has been spent on three things; improving individual players based on performance from last season, improving the scheme, and "pushing the learning curve" for the veteran quarterbacks.
"As a quarterback coach and coordinator I believe this...the most critical time in a quarterback's life is the off season. If you're trying to learn the things you need to know during training camp, you're in trouble." Watson said of the learning progression.
Watson plans to be more multiple this season than they were last year, all while being able staying in the same personnel groupings.
"I love multiplicity because that allows you to play to your skill set and your team but at the same time be creative in the way you use them to create touches for the playmakers. Our installation right now has that in it. So now we develop the way we do our business, creating touches and matchups that our players can take advantage of. And it's conceptually driven so it allows you to be multiple without being hard. The thing for us to teach our guys is the how and the why. Last year we were teaching the how. This spring and summer, we're getting to the why."
In order to learn the "why" behind the scheme, Watson makes a point to teach from the defense's perspective.
"I always teach quarterback play from a defensive perspective first. I want them to know how a defense is put together. That's the why part. Why do we do what we do? Why are we trying to attack in this particular way? People forget that part. I start at the very beginning, and they have the whole summer, so now they can study defensive football and how it relates to opponents that we are getting ready to play, and also the management aspect of the game."
Watson says when different staffs come to visit, he wants to feel comfortable giving the floor to his quarterbacks teach it just like he would.
"If a kid knows why we do something or why something happened, that means it's in their DNA. If we had a visiting staff in here, my goal would be that they know this stuff so well that our quarterbacks could get up and articulate a play on the board and explain the how and why of what we're doing, and why it works, just the same as I would." Watson explained.