Stats & Info: Teddy Bridgewater

Can Bridgewater handle freezing temps?

May, 12, 2014
May 12
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AP Photo/Frank Franklin IITeddy Bridgewater has never started a game in freezing temperatures.
The Minnesota Vikings took Teddy Bridgewater with the final pick of the first round and he is expected to compete for the starting job in training camp.

The Vikings do have two quarterbacks on their roster -- Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel -- but neither rank higher than 25th in Total QBR among qualified quarterbacks since 2009.

Bridgewater’s ability to handle pressure in college bodes well for his success at the next level. He ranked third in completion percentage when under duress among quarterbacks from BCS Automatic Qualifying (AQ) schools, and only Brett Hundley had a higher completion percentage against five or more pass rushers among AQ quarterbacks.

His accuracy also earned him high grades among pro scouts. Bridgewater led all AQ quarterbacks in overall completion percentage last year despite having an average target distance of more than nine yards downfield.

Yet there is one lingering question about his transition to the Vikings: How will Bridgewater adapt to the cold weather in the NFC North?

The Miami native played college football at University of Louisville and did not start a single game in freezing temperatures while in college.

The coldest game that Bridgewater ever started was a 34-degree game against Connecticut on Nov. 24, 2012. Louisville lost that game 23-20 and Bridgewater had a 55.1 Total QBR, which was well below his season average (77.3).

In addition to Bridgewater’s inexperience in cold temperatures, he has a below-average hand size (9.25 inches), which could make it difficult to grip the ball when the temperature drops.

The average hand size for all quarterbacks measured at the combine since 2008 is 9.55 inches. Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Nick Foles all have hands larger than 10 inches.

With the Vikings playing their home games outdoors for the next two seasons, in addition to away games at Green Bay and Chicago every season, Bridgewater’s ability to adapt to cold temperatures could have an impact on his long-term success.

QBs highlight 1st round

May, 9, 2014
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The first round of the 2014 draft was highlighted by the three quarterbacks selected Thursday night: Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater.

The teams that made those selections – the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings – had all drafted a quarterback in the first round in one of the three previous drafts. Only three teams had ever drafted two quarterbacks in the first round in a four-year span in the common draft era previously.

But how will those quarterbacks fit into their new landscapes?

Jaguars – Blake Bortles

Bortles is the third quarterback taken in the first round in Jaguars history (Blaine Gabbert and Byron Leftwich). Since drafting Gabbert in 2011, the Jaguars have posted the lowest Total QBR in the NFL (24.7).

One of Bortles’ strengths in college was his deep ball. Bortles completed 52.9 percent of his passes thrown at least 25 yards downfield last season. That’s the highest of any first-round pick from the past three seasons.

The Jaguars lacked a downfield element last season. As a team, the Jags attempted a league-low 26 passes at least 25 yards downfield and completed five (19.2 percent). Only the Panthers had a worse completion percentage on those throws last season (17.9 percent).

Browns – Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel was drafted 22nd overall after the Browns traded into the spot. In 2012, the Browns drafted Brandon Weeden 22nd overall after a trade, and in 2007 the Browns drafted Brady Quinn 22nd overall following a trade.

Since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, the team has used a league-high 20 starting quarterbacks. Manziel will likely be the 21st.

Manziel will bring a different element to the Browns’ quarterback position. In two years in college, Manziel rushed for 2,169 yards (1,400 via scrambles). Browns quarterbacks have combined to rush for 1,796 yards since 2001.

Although Manziel’s legs helped make the highlight reels in his two seasons at Texas A&M, his ability to throw from the pocket should not be overlooked.

Manziel completed 73.5 percent of his passes from inside of the pocket last season, highest among any AQ quarterback. Browns quarterbacks completed an NFL-worst 56.9 percent of their passes from the pocket last season.

Manziel will also be paired with a top receiver in Josh Gordon, something he benefited from last season with Mike Evans. Evans led AQ-receivers with 13.4 yards per target last season. Gordon was second in the NFL with 10.7 yards per target last season.

Teddy Bridgewater – Vikings

With Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel already on the roster, the Vikings were probably the least in need of a quarterback of the three teams. However, since 2009 Ponder ranks 25th in Total QBR (45.3) and Cassel ranks 30th (40.3).

Bridgewater was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in college football last season. His 71.0 completion percentage was best of any of the BCS-AQ quarterbacks despite the highest average distance of passes.

How Bridgewater might fare in the elements is a point to consider, however. The Vikings play their home games outdoors the next two seasons at the University of Minnesota. Bridgewater has never started a game in freezing temperatures.

Whether he wears a glove may not matter either. Bridgewater’s hands measured 9.25 inches. There have been 39 quarterbacks since 2008 who have had a hand size of 9.25 inches or smaller at the NFL combine. Of those players, only 18 percent have started half of an NFL season (eight games) and none has made the Pro Bowl.

Gruden's QB camp: Teddy Bridgewater

April, 22, 2014
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Entering the 2013 college football season, Teddy Bridgewater was the consensus No. 1 quarterback prospect and a likely top-2 pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

After Bridgewater's shaky pro day and below-average combine measurements, questions emerged about whether he should be the first quarterback taken off the board.

In preparation for ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden’s "QB Camp" show with Bridgewater (airing Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN), here is an in-depth breakdown of Bridgewater’s greatest strengths and causes for concern when evaluating him as a pro prospect.

Greatest strengths:

1. Accuracy:
Bridgewater completed 71 percent of his passes last season, the highest completion percentage of any qualified AQ quarterback. He was not just throwing short passes and screens; Bridgewater’s average pass traveled 9.5 yards past the line of scrimmage, which is a full yard and a half farther than the AQ average and longer than any qualified NFL quarterback last season.

Bridgewater was at his best on short-to-intermediate passes. On passes thrown between 5 and 15 yards downfield, Bridgewater completed 77.2 percent, best of any AQ player in a single season since 2011. Such accuracy allowed Louisville’s receivers to make plays after the catch. The Cardinals led the American Athletic Conference in yards gained after the catch on these intermediate passes.

As a result of his pinpoint accuracy, Bridgewater had just four interceptions in 427 passing attempts last season. Only four FBS players had a lower interception rate than Bridgewater’s.

2. Poise under pressure
Bridgewater’s completion percentage when under duress was 53.5 percent, third-best among AQ quarterbacks. To put that into perspective, the average completion percentage in such situations was 35 percent.

Sending extra pass-rushers did not faze Bridgewater. He ranked second among AQ quarterbacks in completion percentage when blitzed (70.1 percent) and threw 15 touchdowns and just one interception when facing five or more pass-rushers.

According to Todd McShay: “No QB in this draft shows on tape a better understanding of his offense and how to read defenses and blitzes than Bridgewater.”

Concerns:

1. Size/measurables:
Bridgewater measured in at 6-foot-2, 214 pounds at the NFL combine. At his pro day, he was six pounds lighter, at 208 pounds.

There are only five active NFL quarterbacks who are listed at 208 pounds or lighter. Of those five, only Seattle's Russell Wilson is a starter.

Bridgewater also has the smallest hands (9.25 inches) measured of any of the top QB prospects. There have been 39 quarterbacks since 2008 who have had a hand size of 9.25 inches or smaller at the NFL combine. Of those players, only 18 percent have started half of an NFL season (eight games) and none has made the Pro Bowl.

In comparison, of the 36 players with a hand size larger than or equal to Johnny Manziel’s (9.88 inches) since 2008, 31 percent started at least eight NFL games and four have already made the Pro Bowl.

Given Bridgewater’s below-average hand size and his lack of experience in cold temperatures (he did not start a single game in freezing temperatures while at Louisville), teams may question his ability to grip the football in cold weather.

2. Downfield passing
After Bridgewater’s pro day, questions emerged about his accuracy and velocity on downfield passes.

Bridgewater’s statistics in his final college season confirm the scouts' concerns. He completed 39.1 percent of his passes thrown 20 yards or farther downfield, the second-lowest percentage of the top 10 QB prospects ranked by Scouts Inc.

The issue is arm strength. As noted above, Bridgewater is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the nation on intermediate passes, but when he has to throw it farther downfield, the ball tends to hang in the air.

Tune in Tuesday night at 9 as Gruden takes a closer look at Bridgewater’s downfield accuracy and pro potential.

Bridgewater not Louisville's only prospect

March, 17, 2014
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Both Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. have Teddy Bridgewater slated to go in the top five picks in this year’s NFL Draft.

Bridgewater will be among those showing off his talents on Louisville’s pro day today. Here are a few storylines of note for that event.

Bridgewater ultra-accurate
Bridgewater had the third-highest Total QBR last season, trailing only Jameis Winston of Florida State and Marcus Mariota of Oregon. However, once his Total QBR was adjusted for his opponent, he dropped to 14th. This was impacted by Louisville’s strength of schedule, which was ranked 107th by the NCAA.

Nonetheless, Bridgewater is lauded for his accuracy and has steadily improved his completion percentage in each of his three years as a starting QB. In 2013, he was the only QB from a BCS-Automatic Qualifying conference completing at least 70 percent of his passes.

The blitz doesn’t bother Bridgewater. He had the second-highest completion percentage (70.1 percent) versus added pressure among AQ quarterbacks, with 15 touchdown passes and only one interception.

He was also effective moving the chains, throwing for 14 touchdowns and just one pick on third down, with nearly 53 percent of his attempts gaining a first down.

Bridgewater left his mark on the Cardinals' record books during his three seasons at the school. He set the single-season record for touchdown passes with 31 last season.

He also became the third Louisville quarterback to throw for at least 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons, along with Chris Redman (1997-1999) and Brian Brohm (2006-2007).

Bridgewater is expected to become the first Louisville QB to be selected in the first round in the Common Draft Era (since 1967). Two Cardinals were second-round picks, Browning Nagle by the New York Jets in 1991 and Brohm by the Green Bay Packers in 2008.

Defensive Players to Watch: Safety, Calvin Pryor and Defensive End, Marcus Smith
Pryor, a first-team all AAC selection in 2013, is ranked among the top 15 players in this year’s draft.

He ranked second on the team in tackles, tied for third in interceptions and fourth in forced fumbles for a defense that allowed that second-fewest yards per game in FBS last season (trailing only Michigan State).

Louisville has never had two players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and has only had one top-10 pick (Amobi Okoye, 10th in 2007).

Smith, the AAC Defensive Player of the Year and a third-team AP All-American, finished with 14.5 sacks in 2013. He led the FBS in sacks per game.

Top stats to know: Bridgewater to NFL

January, 1, 2014
Jan 1
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Al Diaz/Miami Herald, Getty ImagesTeddy Bridgewater is running right into the NFL
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater says he will enter the 2014 NFL Draft. Here are a few stats to know about one of the top quarterbacks in college football.

1—- Bridgewater ranked in the top five in the FBS in Total QBR (84.5), completion percentage (71 percent), touchdown-to-interception ratio (31 to 4) and interception percentage (0.9) this season. He threw only four interceptions in 427 pass attempts.

2—- Bridgewater showed significant improvement after becoming Louisville’s full-time starting quarterback in 2011. That season, he ranked 86th among FBS quarterbacks in Total QBR. He upped that to ninth in 2012 and third in 2013. Bridgewater’s QBR did come down a little bit in his last five games of the season. He posted a 73.8 Total QBR over that stretch, which ranked 38th in FBS.

Bridgewater’s overall numbers may have benefited from the opponents he faced. He made eight starts this season against teams that finished with a losing overall record, tied for second-most in FBS.

3-- Bridgewater this season showed his ability to handle pressure, completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing just one interception in 103 attempts when facing the blitz prior to bowl season.

4-- Bridgewater is expected to go very high in the NFL Draft. He could become the first quarterback in school history to be drafted in the first round.

Browning Nagle holds the distinction of being the highest-drafted quarterback in school history. He was selected 34th by the Jets in 1991 and started 14 games in his NFL career.

The last Cardinals quarterback selected was Brian Brohm, who was picked 56th by the Packers in 2008.

Only one player from Louisville has been selected in the first 10 picks in the common draft era: Defensive Tackle Amobi Okoye was taken 10th by the Texans in the 2007 Draft.

5-- Bridgewater went out on a high note. He capped his collegiate career with one of his best games, throwing for a career-high 447 yards and setting a new single-season school record for touchdown passes to lead Louisville to a 36-9 win over Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

The Cardinals tied a school record with 12 wins this season and became the second team to beat Miami and Florida in bowl games in back-to-back seasons. The other was Nebraska, who beat Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl (1994 season) and Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl (1995 season).

Elite QBs living up to top billing

October, 6, 2013
10/06/13
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AP Photo/Rod AydelotteBaylor’s Bryce Petty is one of many QBs who lived up to high expectations in Week 6.
Below are some storylines from Week 6 of the college football season using ESPN’s new set of analytical storytelling metrics for college football. For more background on these metrics, read Dean Oliver’s primer on all of them and his explanation of college Total QBR. For complete college Total QBR information, go here.

Top QBs continue success on Saturday

The top four players in Total QBR entering the day on Saturday lived up to expectations. All four players posted a Total QBR of at least 90 while leading their teams to dominant victories.


Below is a breakdown of these top performances:

• Bryce Petty posted a 97.1 Total QBR in Baylor’s 73-42 win over West Virginia, his fourth straight game with a Total QBR of at least 93. Petty has thrown for at least 300 yards, two touchdowns and averaged 13 yards per attempt in every game this season.

• Marcus Mariota was responsible for a career-high seven touchdowns as he led the Ducks to a 57-16 victory against Colorado. Mariota has posted a Total QBR of 90 or more in four of five games this season.

• Teddy Bridgewater posted his fifth straight game with a Total QBR of 80 or higher in Louisville’s 30-7 win over Temple. Bridgewater was 15-of-17 for 228 yards in the first half and did not have a Total QBR lower than 94 after the Cardinals’ first drive.

• Jameis Winston threw for a career-high 393 yards and five touchdowns against Maryland. Winston had seven completions of 20 yards or longer, including two 21-yard touchdown passes. He now has 27 completions of at least 20 yards, fifth most in the FBS.

Other Notable QBs:

• AJ McCarron posted a 97.0 Total QBR in fewer than two quarters against Georgia State. McCarron completed 15-of-16 passes, including his first 12 attempts. Overall, 12 of his 16 attempts (75%) went for a first down or touchdown, the highest percentage by a quarterback in a game this season.

• Tajh Boyd had a season-high 94.0 Total QBR in Clemson’s 49-14 win over Syracuse. Boyd threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, the most yards by an ACC player in the last 10 seasons. Despite taking three sacks, Boyd posted a 96.5 Total QBR in the first half.

• Zach Mettenberger completed 86% of his passes and posted a 92.1 Total QBR in LSU’s 59-26 win against Mississippi State. Mettenberger now has a 88.6 Total QBR through six games in 2013 after having a 27.2 Total QBR through his first six games of last season.

• Aaron Murray had an 84.7 Total QBR in Georgia’s come-from-behind victory over Tennessee. Murray was 5-of-9 with a touchdown on Georgia’s final drive. Murray has a 96.5 Total QBR when trailing this season, highest in the FBS (min 20 action plays).

Heisman hopeful QBs stand out in Week 1

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
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The 2013 college football season officially began Thursday with a thrilling matchup of North Carolina and South Carolina. With the start of the season came the launch of ESPN’s new set of college football storytelling metrics.

These metrics are designed to dig deeper into a team or player’s raw statistics in order to tell a more complete story. For a primer on these metrics -- which include Total QBR, team efficiency ratings and win probability -- see Dean Oliver’s summary here and his explanation of Total QBR here.

Each week, we'll use these metrics to take a look back at the biggest storylines of the past weekend and look ahead to future matchups.

This past weekend was filled with impressive performances by Heisman favorites and national title contenders. Three of the top four Total QBRs of the weekend belonged to players in the discussion for the Heisman and/or the top of the NFL draft. Further, the top offensive and defensive efficiency ratings belonged to title contenders.

Best individual performances

C.J. Brown (98.1 Total QBR) posted the highest Total QBR of Week 1 in Maryland’s 43-10 win over FIU. Brown threw for career highs in passing yards (281), touchdowns (5), and total yards (386), while averaging more than 11 yards per play.

It was the highest single-game QBR for a Maryland quarterback in the past 10 years, which is promising for a team that finished with the seventh-lowest Total QBR in the nation last season.

Marcus Mariota (97.7 Total QBR) racked up 233 yards and three touchdowns while averaging more than 23 yards per play in the first half of Oregon’s 66-3 victory over Nicholls State. By halftime, Oregon had a win probability above 99 percent. It never fell below that point for the rest of the game.

Teddy Bridgewater (97.2 Total QBR) tied a career high with five touchdown passes and was a model of efficiency Sunday against Ohio. He completed all eight of his third-down passes, resulting in seven first downs and two touchdowns.

Brett Hundley (96.9 Total QBR), the nation’s leader in sacks taken last season, did not take a sack or turn the ball over in UCLA’s 58-20 win over Nevada. Like Bridgewater, Hundley excelled on third down, completing eight of 10 passes for seven first downs.

Derek Thompson (96.6 Total QBR): Thompson was 23-for-27 for 349 yards in a 40-6 North Texas rout of Idaho. It was a career-best performance, surpassing the 93.8 he had against Indiana in 2011.

Jameis Winston (96.3 Total QBR): Winston was 25-for-27 and set a Florida State record for completion rate, breaking a mark previously held by Danny Kanell. His 92.6 percent rate is the third highest in a game for an FBS quarterback in the past 10 seasons (minimum 25 attempts). It was the second best this week, surpassed by Corey Robinson of Troy (93.8 percent on 30-of-32).

For those wondering why Winston finished with "only" a 96.3, he did take two sacks, fumbled once and committed a penalty.

Best team performances

Offense -- Oregon: Oregon’s offense led all teams with 42 expected points added (EPA), which means it contributed 42 net points toward its 63-point victory. It was the Ducks’ second-highest offensive EPA in a game over the past 10 seasons.

Defense -- Alabama: Alabama’s opponent, Virginia Tech, had the fifth-lowest offensive EPA (-24.7) of any FBS team in the country.

The Tide held Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas to the lowest Total QBR (1.9) of Week 1. He completed five of his 26 pass attempts, including two of the 12 he made on third down, and threw a pick-six early in the second quarter that dropped Virginia Tech’s win probability below 21 percent, where it remained the rest of the game.

Special teams -- Minnesota: Minnesota scored touchdowns on a 98-yard kickoff return and a 51-yard blocked field goal return in its win against UNLV. As a result, the Golden Gophers added more expected points on special teams than any other team in Week 1.

Looking ahead to Week 2

Week 2 is highlighted by the final scheduled meeting of Notre Dame and Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN).

Last year, Devin Gardner did not qualify for the Total QBR season title, but among quarterbacks with at least 150 action plays, he had the highest opponent-adjusted QBR (90.7) in the country. Gardner picked up where he left off, posting a Total QBR of 90 in Week 1 against Central Michigan.

Similarly, Tommy Rees started off the 2013 season strong. His Total QBR of 94.9 ranked seventh out of 121 qualified quarterbacks. It was his second-highest Total QBR of his career and the sixth-highest Total QBR for any Notre Dame quarterback in the past 10 seasons.

Look for these two offenses to improve with Rees and Gardner under center. Both teams ranked in the top 25 among BCS AQ teams in offensive expected points added in Week 1. Neither Michigan nor Notre Dame ranked that high last season.

Week 1: Top things to know about top 10

August, 29, 2013
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As we celebrate the commencement of the 2013 college football season, here are the stats to know about the top 10 teams in action this week (No. 4 Stanford is off).

1. Alabama (vs. Virginia Tech, 5:30 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Senior AJ McCarron completed 65 percent of his passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield, with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions on those throws last season. He completed 39 percent of such passes, with six touchdowns, as a sophomore.

McCarron posted an above-average opponent-adjusted Total QBR in all 14 games last season (average is 50.0). He was one of three FBS quarterbacks to play in at least 10 games without having at least one below-average game. The other two were Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron.

2. Ohio State (vs. Buffalo, noon ET, Saturday)
Junior Braxton Miller led all quarterbacks from BCS-AQ schools with 1,214 yards on designed running plays last season. He averaged 14 designed runs per game, an increase of more than seven per game from his freshman season.

Miller finished with 10 rushes that gained at least 30 yards, tied for fifth-most in FBS. Five of those 10 rushes went for touchdowns.

3. Oregon (vs. Nicholls State, 4 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Oregon averaged more points in the first half (30.5) than 67 FBS teams averaged per game last season. The Ducks' average halftime lead was 21.5 points, but they generally milked their lead, averaging nearly five more seconds of possession per play in the second half compared to the first.

5. Georgia (at No. 8 Clemson, 8 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Georgia had 24 offensive touchdowns that were 25 yards or longer last season, tied with Baylor for the most in FBS. The Bulldogs and Alabama are the only FBS teams that had at least 15 such passing touchdowns and five such rushing touchdowns.

6. South Carolina (vs. North Carolina, 6 p.m. ET, Thursday)
Jadeveon Clowney had 23.5 tackles for loss last season, tied for the second-most in FBS. Clowney finished the season with 28 total pressures (hurries and knockdowns), tied for the second-most by an SEC player.

7. Texas A&M (vs. Rice, 1 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Johnny Manziel had the highest opponent-adjusted Total QBR (91) in FBS last season. In nine years of historical Total QBR data, only Andrew Luck in 2010 (95), Russell Wilson in 2011 (94), Sam Bradford in 2008 (92), Pat White in 2006 (91) and Kellen Moore in 2010 (91) had a higher or equal single-season opponent-adjusted QBR.

8. Clemson (vs. No. 5 Georgia, 8 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Tajh Boyd completed an FBS-high 48 passes that gained 25 or more yards. Overall, 11 percent of his pass attempts gained at least 25 yards, the highest percentage in the nation (minimum 150 attempts).

9. Louisville (vs. Ohio, 3:30 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Teddy Bridgewater converted a first down on 51 percent of his third-down passes last season, second-best in FBS behind Manziel (52 percent).

10. Florida (vs. Toledo, 12:21 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Florida allowed just 13 plays of 25 yards or longer last season, seven fewer than any other FBS team. The Gators did not allow one rush of at least 25 yards until the fourth quarter of the Sugar Bowl.

Rising stock of Teddy Bridgewater

June, 28, 2013
6/28/13
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Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SportsNFL teams will have their eyes on Teddy Bridgewater leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft.
The 2013 college football season has the potential to be one of the greatest quarterback classes ever. Eight of the top 10 teams in last year’s final AP Poll return their starting quarterbacks, and every conference except the Big 12 returns either their first- or second-team quarterbacks from last season.

In preparation for the 2013 season, ESPN Stats & Info will take a deeper look at the top QBs entering the fall. Friday, we look at Teddy Bridgewater.


A Look Back at 2012

Bridgewater led the Louisville Cardinals to an 11-2 record last season, and earned MVP honors in a 33-23 victory over the third-ranked Florida Gators in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. According to Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, Bridgewater is the top quarterback prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft.

How did Bridgewater go from an unknown freshman in 2011 to the No. 1 quarterback prospect?

Downfield passing: Bridgewater completed a pass of 15 or more yards on 20 percent of his attempts in 2012, up from 16 percent in 2011. Bridgewater averaged 8.9 yards per attempt last season, seventh-best in FBS among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts.

Ball protection: As a sophomore in 2012, Bridgewater threw an interception once every 52.4 pass attempts. During his freshman season he threw a pick once every 24.7 pass attempts, the ninth-worst rate in FBS out of 115 qualifying quarterbacks.

Third-down passing: Bridgewater excelled on third downs last season. When he threw a pass, it resulted in a first down 50.9 percent of the time, second-best in FBS behind Johnny Manziel (51.9 percent). Only three players in FBS last season had more completions of 15 yards or more on third down than Bridgewater, who completed 27 such passes.

What’s Ahead for 2013?

The biggest obstacle for Bridgewater and the Cardinals in 2013 might be pass protection, or the lack thereof. In two seasons at Louisville, Bridgewater has been sacked 61 times, ninth-most in FBS. In the Cardinals final three games last season, Bridgewater was sacked 12 times, including five in the Sugar Bowl.

Bridgewater struggled most when opponents sent extra pressure. He was sacked on 9.2 percent of designed pass plays when blitzed and threw an interception once every 24 pass attempts. On designed passing plays when opponents sent four or fewer rushers, Bridgewater was sacked 4.7 percent of the time and threw a pick once every 169 pass attempts.

If Bridgewater can continue to improve in his junior season and handle pressure more effectively, the possibilities are endless - first quarterback selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, an undefeated season (Louisville has the 90th-toughest schedule in FBS this season based on 2012 records) and maybe even Louisville's first Heisman Trophy winner.

Bridgewater's comeback ability huge

April, 15, 2013
4/15/13
10:15
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Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SportsQuarterback Teddy Bridgewater is Louisville's center of attention entering 2013.
With the college basketball season in the books, College Football Live embarks on its Spring Bus Tour, visiting eight schools over two weeks. Today we take a trip to check out the Louisville Cardinals.

Louisville started last season 9-0, with its best win a 34-31 overtime triumph over Cincinnati. The Cardinals lost their next two games, to Syracuse and Connecticut but beat Rutgers to win the Big East (via four-team tiebreaker) and earn a BCS bowl berth.

They validated that with a 33-23 win over No. 3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

Looking to 2013, what would it take for the Cardinals to be considered a BCS title contender in the American Athletic Conference?

Louisville returns 12 defensive players who started at least three games last season and though running back Senorise Perry may not return immediately due to a torn ACL, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater returns with some Heisman buzz.

The last Heisman winner from the Big East was Geno Torretta from Miami (FL) in 1992, and the last Big East player invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony was Larry Fitzgerald in 2003.

Louisville fell behind in nine of its 13 games last season, but Bridgewater fared well when his team was trailing, leading the Cardinals to victory in seven of those nine instances.
Bridgewater had a plus-11 touchdown-to-interception differential when trailing, tied for third-best in FBS.

Bridgewater has been even better when trailing late in games, leading the Cardinals to three come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter or overtime. He completed two-thirds of his passes with five touchdowns and one interception when trailing in the fourth quarter or overtime last season.

Bridgewater also converted 63.6 percent of his third-down passes against Florida in the Sugar Bowl, which was the highest percentage allowed by a Florida defense since the 2009 SEC Championship game.

Third-down efficiency is nothing new for Bridgewater. He converted 50.9 percent of his third-down passes in 2012, the highest percentage in FBS.

In the end, the biggest thing working against Bridgewater and the Cardinals is their schedule in the first year of the American Athletic Conference.

The toughest game on it is at Cincinnati to end the year, and the toughest game in non-conference may end up being at Kentucky.

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