Bridgewater lives up to hype

Teddy Brigewater came to Louisville as one of the highest profile recruits in Cardinal history. To say that the 6'3 freshman quarterback from Miami, Fla., lived up to the hype would be a gross understatement.

Teddy Brigewater came to Louisville as one of the highest profile recruits in Cardinal history.

To say that the 6'3 freshman quarterback from Miami, Fla., has lived up to the hype would be a gross understatement.

Bridgewater isn't the future of Louisville football. He is Louisville football after completing, perhaps, the best freshmen season in program history.

Besides leading Louisville to at least a share of the Big East title, Bridgewater, named a Freshman All-American by CBSSports, also set the school freshman single season passing mark 1,855 yards, surpassing Chris Redman's old record (1,773).

Louisville has probably had better pure passers than Bridgewater – Redman and Brian Brohm come to mind. Stefan LeFors and Jeff Brohm were probably better runners. But Bridgewater's diverse skill set, combined with his knack for making big plays should make him one of the best players in school history.

Bridgeman named Freshman All-American
University of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was named a freshman All-American by CBSSports.com on Wednesday evening.

A true freshman from Miami, Fla., Bridgewater guided the Cardinals to the program's second BIG EAST title and a trip to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 27 against NC State.

Bridgewater, who took over as the starter on Oct. 1, compiled a 5-4 record as a starter and was one of the keys to the offense's overall improvement.

The first true freshman to start for the Cardinals at quarterback since 1976, Bridgewater threw for 1,855 yards, surpassing Chris Redman's freshman passing yardage record, and 12 touchdowns this year. He completed an efficient 66.0 percent of his throws, connecting on 167 of his 253 passes.

In the title-clinching win over South Florida, Bridgewater threw for 241 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in a 34-24 win over the Bulls. He passed for a career-best 246 yards in a 38-35 win over nationally ranked West Virginia. He also relieved Will Stein in a 24-17 win over Kentucky, going 10-of-18 for 106 yards and two touchdowns.

Bridgewater is the first freshman All-American since Hakeem Smith earned honors last season from Rivals.com (first team) and Phil Steele (second team).

It isn't Bridewater's passing ability that sets him apart, though he did complete 65 percent of his passes this season. It's also not his ability to escape pressure and make plays on the run that separates him from his counterparts, though he did that all season long.

What sets Bridgewater apart from other quarterbacks is this simple fact: He's a winner. Poised beyond his age, Bridgewater stepped into a difficult situation and delivered one big win after another this season.

"I don't know if I've ever been around a player that is as poised as Teddy," said UofL coach Charlie Strong. "He has the feet that he can escape the pressure. He throws the ball very well on the run. It's fun watching him develop and grow. He wants to get better and better each week. He's nowhere near where he wants to be…he wants to be an outstanding football player."

In his first extensive action, Bridgewater replaced an injured Will Stein in a hostile road environment against rival Kentucky and engineered the Cardinals first win over the Wildcats in five years.

After struggling to find his way against Marshall, North Carolina and Cincinnati, Bridgewater bounced back by leading Louisville on a three-game winning streak that included a road upset of then No. 24-ranked West Virginia – the first time UofL had won at Morgantown since the 1990 season.

With a Big East title and possible BCS bowl bid at stake, Bridgewater led Louisville past USF in the season finale, throwing for 241 yards and three touchdowns as the Cardinals overcame a two-touchdown first half deficit. The win was the programs first against the Bulls in Tampa.

That performance earned Bridgewater Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors and probably secured Big East Freshman of the Year honors.

"It's amazing to watch how Teddy Bridgewater has gotten better, and better, and better each week," Strong said. "We started off the season with (Will) Stein. Stein did an outstanding job and then he gets hurt in the Kentucky game. Teddy comes in and takes over and finishes the Kentucky game.

"Friday, it was just amazing to watch him. It was so funny because when we were down 17-3, they (USF) were getting ready to kick the ball off. I said, ‘Just take a knee and let's just get out of here.'

"Teddy says, ‘Hey, what if we get a big return? Then, what are we going to do?'

"I said, ‘If we get a return, then we are going to go out there and try to go for it.' Senorise (Perry) gets a big return. Then, if you watch that throw to DeVante (Parker), he lets the ball go. DeVante's not even in the picture. He (Teddy) just throws the ball to the middle of the uprights and all of the sudden DeVante runs in the picture and makes the catch. He made some outstanding throws on Friday."

After leading UofL to wins in five of the last six games, Bridgewater will cap his first season with the Cardinals in the Belk Bowl December 27 against NC State in Charlotte.


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