There's not a situation in college football quite like the one Will Gardner finds himself in at Louisville this fall.
On the one hand, Gardner has the unenviable task of replacing Teddy Bridgewater, the one-time Heisman Trophy contender and all-time local legend who has moved on to the NFL after a stellar career quarterbacking the Cardinals.
On the other, he'll be playing for incoming coach Bobby Petrino, the offensive maven who fully expects to find the end zone on every possession.
Gardner — a redshirt sophomore from Douglas, Ga. — has thrown all of 12 passes in his college career.
He got off to a rough start in the first week of fall camp.
"I'm sure that he feels like he's not executing the way he was at the end of the spring. And he's not," Petrino said.
The beginning of the Gardner era left Louisville fans giddy.
The 6-foot-5 quarterback generated some major buzz last April when he completed 32 of 37 passes for 542 yards and four touchdowns in the program's spring game.
The scrimmage was a bit of a relief for Gardner, who wrapped up the spring on a high note after a pressure-packed month of practice under Petrino.
"You feel more pressure in practice," he said. "The spring game was easy because there wasn't hardly any pressure. .... (Petrino) does put a lot of pressure on you in practice, which is good because it makes the game easy."
Things didn't come easy when he returned to the field earlier this month.
Gardner's first couple of days of fall camp were less than stellar, as Petrino was quick to acknowledge.
But U of L's coaches were also quick to extinguish any hint of a quarterback controversy. Petrino said the early struggles of the offense were the result of a team effort and not the individual failings of Gardner.
The coach said it's always the quarterback who gets the blame in the first days of camp, when the advantage usually goes to the defense anyway.
"To be real honest with you, it's all 11 guys," Petrino said. "The receivers aren't as crisp on their routes. The timing's not as good as we want it to be. So he's missed some throws.
"But Will's doing a good job, don't get me wrong. We're throwing a lot at him. ... He's in command, and he knows the offense. He's working at it every day to get better."
Once pads were added to the equation, Gardner got more comfortable and the reviews were more positive.
The real quarterback battle at U of L is for the backup spot.
Former Lexington Catholic standout Kyle Bolin — a redshirt freshman — started the fall at No. 2 on the depth chart, but it's true freshman Reggie Bonnafon who impressed early in camp.
The former Louisville Trinity star practiced with his fellow newcomers over the first two days of camp and Petrino decided to bring him up with the veterans after those performances.
Petrino said he wanted to see how Bonnafon would react to the change.
"And I was very impressed with him," the coach said. "I think there's great competition there (for the backup spot)."
Petrino compared Bonnafon to former Cardinals quarterback Stefan LeFors for his ability to pick up yards on the ground and complete passes on the run.
Bolin obviously has some work to do if he wants to hold on to that No. 2 spot after missing much of the summer while recovering from knee surgery.
"I think it's hurt him a little bit," Petrino said. "He's got to get back healthy."