Bridgewater key to Louisville success

Louisville head coach Charlie Strong wanted to see what senior quarterback Will Stein could do. After a scoreless first half, it was sophomore Teddy Bridgewater that was in the game, fighting multiple injuries to lead the Cardinals to a win over Rutgers that sealed the Big East championship. Bridgewater is expected to be healthy for the Sugar Bowl and face the Gators at full strength.

"If you talk about someone just putting on an unbelievable performance, he's an outstanding quarterback," Charlie Strong said.

Teddy Bridgewater led the Louisville offense against Rutgers, going 20-for-28 through the air for 263 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. All this after he was sitting on the bench in the first quarter.

It happened with multiple injuries. Bridgewater broke his non-throwing wrist and has a sprained ankle that he fought through. The ankle injury meant Bridgewater wasn't capable of taking snaps under center. Will Stein entered for plays where the quarterback needed to be under center, putting both quarterbacks on the field during the game.

It didn't matter.

"I look at college football, and I know there's some athletic quarterbacks out there but I think wherever the best one is, I think Teddy should be linked there with them," Strong said. "Stein was able to get and was able to get us -- any time we needed a short-yardage play we were able to get the first down and then allow Teddy to sit back and throw the ball."

That's what Bridgewater did. And he has been doing it all season.

The sophomore quarterback has completed 69% (267-for-387) of his passes, a stat that Florida coach Will Muschamp called "off the charts," for 3,452 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has added 223 positive rushing yards, but those numbers could be limited in the Sugar Bowl against Florida if the ankle is still an issue.

The Louisville coaching staff will be smart with how they handle his injuries in bowl preparation.

"We've got to be smart on how we handle it," Strong said. "We know his injuries and he'll need rest. How much rest, it will depend on our medical staff telling us what we need to do with him day-to-day."

The bowl preparation for Florida won't get into the game planning until later in December, but it didn't take film study for Muschamp to realize Bridgewater's playmaking ability. The Gators have prepared for plenty of athletic quarterbacks this season, and Muschamp said the game plan wouldn't be any different for Bridgewater.

They'll preach discipline to the defensive linemen and play more zone coverage in the secondary, so the defensive backs constantly have their eyes on the quarterback.

The Miami Northwestern High School product has an arm capable of throwing the ball all over the field and will change the Florida secondary.

"He's a guy that gets the ball in the right spots and is obviously very accurate with the football and he's a winner," Muschamp said. "He's won a lot of at football games directing their offense."

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