Bridgewater provides multiple challenges

All the Florida coaches needed to do was turn on the film. The defensive players saw what Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater did while nursing multiple injuries against Rutgers to lead the team back and earn a berth in the Sugar Bowl. It earned immediate respect from players in the locker room. Now the Gators have to figure out a way to try slowing down the sophomore quarterback.

With an injured ankle and broken wrist on his non-throwing hand, Teddy Bridgewater entered the game with Louisville trailing 14-3 in the second quarter. He took the reigns of the offense and went 20-of-28 in the passing game for 263 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Cardinals to a comeback victory at Rutgers.

From there, the fate was sealed. The Gators would have to figure out how to slow the sophomore down when he's at full health and not dealing with any of the injuries that have been plaguing him this year.

"That's special," Florida senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter said of the film the Gators saw from Bridgewater's game against Rutgers. "He's a warrior. That shows he's a tough football player. Playing the quarterback position and being able to do that stuff shows a lot about you being tough."?

Bridgewater is what "really can make the team go" on offense, according to Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. It showed during Louisville's biggest moment of the year.

The Gators are still trying to figure out what exactly they're planning for. When the injury bug hit Bridgewater, he stopped running as much to avoid worsening the injuries. He was still mobile enough to move the pocket, extend the play and hit receivers down the field.

"He certainly earned our respect being injured and coming back to play in a short week and things like that with a wrist injury and an ankle injury," Quinn said. "You have respect for those kind of toughness moments that that guy certainly showed at the end of their regular season."

Bridgewater has rushed for 223 positive yards in 12 games this season with a long of 17 yards. He isn't the dynamic runner than Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel can be in space, but Bridgewater moves well in the pocket and buys extra time with his athleticism. If the situation calls for it, that's when he can tuck the ball and run.

The Gators are used to facing mobile quarterbacks this year, so the preparation for a healthy Bridgewater that can move shouldn't be any different than what they've faced this season. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Murphy has served as the scout team quarterback against athletic quarterbacks, and he'll continue to play that role while simulating Bridgewater's tendencies in practice.

It's a role Murphy has taken seriously throughout the year.

"He's done a good job at that this year," Quinn said. "Sometimes we may say even in a 7-on-7 scramble and not just drop back at times where a quarterback can get out because he wants to get out and create on the run. I think you have to plan that as part of the sessions where even if it is a drop back pass, he can get outside. Even though it is a drop back, you may or may not get pressure here, and he'll get outside the pocket."

Bridgewater has the makings of being a professional quarterback in the future, and there are multiple parts of his game that jumped out on film to Quinn.

"Bridgewater has a very quick release," Quinn said. "You can tell the good quarterbacks have the mental quickness to know where to go with the ball, and he certainly has that. He knows where to go with the ball. He has good accuracy with the throw. When he gets comfortable, he is a dangerous guy, and he's a problem. That's our job to make sure we can get him off the spot and affect him and hit him."

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