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By KEITH TAYLOR, The Winchester Sun
Teddy Bridgewater has been mentioned as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate and one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. Despite his status as among the top pocket performers in college football, he’s still learning a lot about himself and his team.
The University of Louisville signal-caller chalked up another learning experience following Louisville’s 27-13 victory over Kentucky to regain a three-year hold on the Governor’s Cup Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
“We learned that you have to respect your opponent,” he said. “Coming into the game, we thought that we didn’t get any respect. You pretty much learn something from every (game) and we’re not as good as we think we are. We learned to stay humble and respect the opponent. “
Bridgewater completed 16-of -28 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown against the Wildcats, but most of his yardage came in the second half after throwing for 91 yards and one score during the first two quarters. Kentucky’s pressure left Bridgewater scrambling at times in the pocket.
“They gave us some different things, some different looks,” the Louisville quarterback said. “It’s nothing that we weren’t prepared for.”
He added that a “lack of execution” and his inaccuracy played a role in the team’s slow start in the first half.
“It was mostly little things,” he said. “I’ll watch the film and learn from it and improve on every aspect of the game.”
Bridgewater threw his first touchdown on a fade to Devante Parker with 2:36 remaining in the opening half. The toss to Parker broke a 3-3 deadlock and gave the Cardinals a 10-3 lead. Bridgewater completed eight-of-15 passes for 91 yards in the first half and threw just two passes during a series dominated by the running game on Louisville’s touchdown of the opening half.
The junior misfired on his first three passes but reversed course to open the second half. Bridgewater engineered a successful scoring drive, completing four of five passes for 49 yards. The score turned a 10-3 lead into a 17-3 advantage.
In addition to the team’s offense, which racked up 492 yards against the Wildcats, Bridgewater praised the defense, which limited the Wildcats to 376 yards and three turnovers, including a pair of fumbles on a pair of crucial drives by Kentucky. The Wildcats also were 0-for-13 on third-down conversions.
“I take my hat off to the defense for their performance,” he said. “Coach (Charlie) Strong always says you have to have special teams and defense on the road and our defense showed up today. It helped our offense. As you know, we started pretty slow. The defense picked up the tempo for us.”
Following a Kentucky turnover on its first possession of the second half, Bridgewater came through again on a drive that began at their own 2-yard line. Bridgewater threw a 47-yard strike to Damian Copeland and a 24-yard completion to Gerald Christian, setting up a 21-yard field goal by John Wallace for a 20-3 advantage.
“Playing the quarterback position, I just let everything come to me,” he said. “I learned to adjust to the flow. You never carry one play into the next play. If I have one bad ball on one play, I just try to hit the next one.”
Displaying his ability to share the football, Bridgewater didn’t settle on one receiver as a primary target. He made completions to seven different players, mostly to Copeland, who hauled in three passes for 81 yards and one touchdown. In addition, the Cardinals rushed for 242 yards, with 180 of those coming during the last two quarters.
“We just lined up and ran right at them,” he said. “It helps when your two-dimensional, because you can run the ball or pass the ball. The offensive line did a great job of opening holes for the running backs. The backs did a great job running the ball.”