Evan Conley's Work Ethic Brings Added Competition to the Louisville QB room
When Louisville Football quarterbacks coach Frank Ponce recently broke down the depth chart at quarterback heading into the 2020 season, he listed redshirt junior Micale Cunningham & redshirt senior Jawon "Puma" Pass as 1A & 1B respectively. That in turn left Evan Conley as the third string signal caller for Cardinals.
But don't discount what he will bring to the table for Louisville in 2020. In fact, Ponce says he has had a "tremendous" impact on the competition in the quarterback room.
"Evan's had some success this past year and as a true freshman he went in a few games and did real well," Ponce told reporters in a teleconference Tuesday.
While Conley "did have some mistakes that obviously as a freshman he's going to do" according to Ponce, he did plenty right to counter them. In seven games as a backup, the Marietta, GA native threw for 613 yards and four touchdowns while completing 56.3% of his throws.
His most notable performance came against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. After Cunningham left the game in the second quarter due to injury, Conley entered and proceeded to throw for 196 yards on 12-18 passing with a pair of touchdowns. He also ran for 83 yards, including the go-ahead 41 yard score on fourth-and-1. The Cardinals won 62-59 for their first ranked road win since 2016, and his performance garnered him both ACC Quarterback and Rookie of the Week honors.
Heading into the preceding offseason, Conley looked to continue that momentum in spring practice. However a shoulder injury kept him from operating at 100% efficiency, so he spent a lot of time in the film room to counter it.
"He just continues to improve. He's a very studious kid. He's always watching film, always asking questions," Ponce said. "We're excited to see him compete again. He's definitely always in the mix because of his study habits and his work ethic."
Ponce says that Conley is now "good to go" following his injury and "feels awesome, very relaxed and very confident."
But his work ethic isn't strictly confined to the film room. Conley also puts in his fair share of effort in the gym, sometimes to the point where he is quite literally run out of the building.
"He's a kid that you have run out of the weight room all the time because he always wants to do more," Ponce said. "Sometimes after practice I have to tell him 'Hey, that's enough. We can't wear our arms out.' He's out there throwing more after we do our stuff."
With all the effort Conley is putting forth both on and off the gridiron, Ponce believes it is only a matter of time before it pays off for the sophomore
"He's a very competitive young man and I think he works real hard," he said. "Every time anybody works hard has a chance to be very successful."
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