When Charlie Strong left his post as Florida defensive coordinator to take over a struggling University of Louisville program, he brought with him a strong connection to the talent rich state of Florida. One of his biggest recruiting coups was bringing in Teddy Bridgewater, a highly regarded quarterback from Miami’s Northwestern High School.
Bridgewater showed tremendous promise as a freshman in 2011, but has truly blossomed as a sophomore in 2012. Bridgewater’s game-winning fourth quarter drive against USF even drew a comparison to former Florida Heisman winner Tim Tebow from Strong.
"It's a great comparison," Bridgewater told WDRB News. "I feel special now, hearing that Coach Strong felt that way about me. I can't even explain how that feels, hearing it now."
This week, Bridgewater was named as one of the final 16 candidates for the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s best quarterback. His numbers are impressive: in Louisville’s 7-0 start, Bridgewater is completing 73.4 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His 165.2 efficiency rating is good for 12th best in college football.
“He’s running our system, and he’s applying the management aspect of playing quarterback,” Cardinal offensive coordinator Shawn Watson told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Knowing where your checkdown is at on every play is critical. If he gets in trouble but that ball is coming out to the checkdown, that’s his hard work. I know I’ve taught a lot of kids this, but he knows how.”
That ability to spread the ball around has resulted in eight Cardinal receivers with at least 11 catches on the season. He has also shown a knack for picking up yards on the ground when he has to. Against the Bulls, Bridgewater rushed for a team-high 74 yards.
On Friday, Bridgewater will make his highest profile appearance yet in a primetime matchup with Cincinnati on ESPN (8pm).