Great piece posted today by Ben Glicksman of Sports Illustrated as he takes an in-depth look at the rise of Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater. The column starts by revisiting his less-than-stellar career beginnings when he tossed an interception on his first collegiate pass and had had three penalties in that same opening series. However, just two short weeks later, Bridgewater entered the Kentucky game and the job was his from there on out. It might not have been the way the coaching staff foresaw his progression as a freshman QB in a BCS conference, but he was thrown to the wolves and steadily improved with each passing game. Though the inauspicious freshman led the team to a share of the Big East title and a trip to the Belk Bowl, it’s clear now that he has a bigger things in mind. First, an outright conference championship and a return to the Orange Bowl. Next year? Who knows. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibilities to think the team could potentially go undefeated and Bridgewater could levy his successes into a Heisman candidacy. Here’s an excerpt from the article and you can read the entire thing here.
It also made one thing abundantly clear: The Bridgewater era at Louisville has begun. And for the Cardinals to accomplish their 2012 goals, he’ll have to be the one to take them there. “At the quarterback position, you have to have a leader,” said Strong. “He’s willing to accept that role.”
Bridgewater’s upside is undeniable. He boasts elite speed and athleticism, running the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds. He was precociously accurate as a freshman, completing 64.5 percent of his attempts, 29th in the FBS. Perhaps best of all, he’s emerged as a workhorse in the weight room. He put on more than 20 pounds of muscle during the offseason, bulking up to 218 pounds in an effort to withstand more hits — and increase his total of 66 rushing yards in 2011.
Like most young signal-callers, he’s still an unproven decision-maker (he finished with 12 interceptions in ’11), something he’s worked extensively to improve during camp. But the early returns are encouraging. He was nearly perfect in the spring game: 19-of-21 for 257 yards and three touchdowns.
“The biggest difference is I’ve learned how to manage a game,” said Bridgewater. “On third down or nickel down, if the primary read isn’t there, I just check it down.”
He learned the basics of the college game last season; now comes the hard part. Saddled with the burden of expectations, Bridgewater will be asked to reach even greater heights in Year 2.
“He’s dealt with it very well,” said Strong of the hype. “He’s very mature for his age.”