The annual rivalry game between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals will be the first one for new UK Head Coach Mark Stoops. Thankfully for him, this year’s matchup comes in the third week of the season, giving him more time to establish his identity within the team, and after an early-season setback against Western Kentucky, the Cats are clicking on offense and defense enough that they may just be able to give the heavily favored Cardinals a run for their money.
But in order for them to have any chance, they’ll have to find a way to slow down one of the nation’s hottest offenses, led by a man who’s never lost to Kentucky, or an SEC team for that matter.
Teddy Bridgewater arrived on the Louisville campus in 2011, and in just two years, he’s become one of the best QBs in all of college football, and already looks like a lock for the top-10 in next year’s NFL Draft. Now, he’s on the verge of taking the Cardinals to another BCS game, an undefeated season and earning himself a Heisman Trophy.
It was in 2012 that he became one of the most recognizable figures in college football. He completed 287/419 passes (68.5%) for 3,718 yards and he threw 27 TDs to only 8 interceptions. Louisville’s record finished 11-2, including a upset-win vs. the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl.
This led to bigger expectations entering this year, and thus far, Bridgewater has done nothing to disappoint. Through two games, he’s thrown for 752 yards, an FBS-best nine touchdowns and a 76.7% completion rate in leading the Cards to a 2-0 start.
While Teddy is certainly mobile enough to be a running threat, he’s grown to use his mobility to move around the pocket and make tough throws on the run vs. taking off and leaving himself susceptible to big hits. Last year, Bridgewater has just 74 rushes for 26 yards, and his longest gain of the year was 17 yards.
Bridgewater shows poise as well as any QB in the nation, and its nearly impossible to rattle him. Even under pressure with defenders breathing down his neck, he has very good ability to read the field and move around the pocket until a receiver comes open.
While Bridgewater is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, even he will need weapons around him to take some of the load off of his shoulders.