Regardless of what you hear from the coaching staff throughout fall camp, unless something significantly changes, Will Gardner will be the starting quarterback for the Louisville football team in 2014. Although Petrino wants to see Gardner go out and earn it in fall camp, I sincerely believe that he’s confident in Gardner’s ability to lead the offense.
The real question over the past couple of months has been who will step in if Gardner was to get hurt. Petrino hasn’t kept it as a secret that he’s concerned about the depth at the quarterback position this season. He has two capable QB’s in Penn State transfer Tyler Ferguson and Washington State transfer Tyler Bruggman. Unfortunately both have to sit out this season due to the NCAA’s transfer rule.
Redshirt freshman Kyle Bolin and senior Brett Nelson battled for the back-up position in the spring. The staff seemed optimistic about Bolin’s upside, however he suffered a knee injury in July and is a little bit behind. He’s competing for the back-up job, but has some making up to do. Nelson on the other hand hasn’t shown a whole lot since transferring from junior college in 2012.
A lot could change from now until Sept. 1, but if you go off of what Petrino said at his press conference on Monday and what was shown at Tuesday morning’s practice, true freshman Reggie Bonnafon could may end up being your fulltime backup quarterback.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the competition behind Will and Reggie Bonnafon coming in as a true freshman,” Petrino told the media on Monday. “I want to see how much he will compete for the job and that will be fun to see how that works out.”
“He’s had a great summer,” Petrino said. “He’s an amazing athlete. When you look at his measureables, he has a 36 and a half inch vertical. He’s strong and he’s smart. Now, we just want to see how he gets into it.”
Since becoming a highly touted college prospect at Louisville Trinity High School, many have wondered what position Bonnafon would actually play at the collegiate level. Louisville is one of the few programs that actually recruited him as a dual-threat QB. After being hired in January, Bonnafon was one of the first recruits that Petrino established a relationship with. He made it clear that he wanted the Trinity Shamrock to be a QB with the Cardinals.
“I’ve been waiting for this since I committed, so it felt good to finally get out there,” Bonnafon said following Tuesday morning’s first practice for the newcomers. Although there’s only been one practice and we didn’t see any real game situation action, Bonnafon was impressive to say the least. He showed a strong arm and has added 15 pounds of muscle since signing with Louisville.
“Being able to be with the coaches this summer in meetings I feel like it helped me out a lot,” Bonnafon says. “I just feel like I am very comfortable out there.”
As I mentioned, I fully expect to see Will Gardner as the starting quarterback this season and I think he’ll have a great year. That said, we may see Bonnafon in under center in certain situations. It certainly sounds like the staff feels that he’s ready to contribute.