Remember when the No. 25 ranked Louisville Cardinals defeated the No. 4 Florida Gators 33-23 in last year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl? Who was the quarterback that lead his team to such an upset? Teddy Bridgewater, who deserves serious consideration for winning the 2013 Heisman Trophy.
Bridgewater has had a season filled with success. According to ESPN, he is averaging three touchdowns per game, a 71% completion rate (fourth highest among Division I quarterbacks) and a touchdown/interception ratio of 12/1, numbers that rank among the top three quarterbacks in college football.
Bridgewater has been compared to several other Heisman Trophy candidates who have been putting up similar numbers. According to ESPN, Marcus Mariota from the Oregon Ducks is having a contending season with over 2,800 total yards but Bridgewater holds an advantage over Mariota with roughly 200 more total yards and a seven percent higher completion rate with completing a pass 71% of the time (Mariota only completes 64% of his throws).
Johnny Manziel is another opponent against Bridgewater for the Heisman Trophy and has a higher completion rate (74%), BUT throws a lot more interceptions. Manziel has played in 11 games this season with an 8-3 record, but has also thrown 13 interceptions. Ironically, all three games that Texas A&M have lost, Manziel threw two interceptions in all three contests and two of the games were lost by no more than a touchdown. Who knows what the outcome would have been in those games without Manziel throwing those interceptions.
Scouts shall be cautious when they consider drafting a quarterback who has thrown more interceptions than the number of games he’s played.
On the other hand, one reason why Bridgewater has had so much offensive success with the Cardinals this season is because he’s only thrown three interceptions over 10 games.
When you look at Bridgewater, not only do you see his accuracy but you also get the idea that he knows how to read a defense and respond accordingly with quality throws. When asked whether or not Bridgewater is smart enough to handle an NFL offense, Matt Miller of CNN states, “The junior quarterback’s best asset is what he’s able to do mentally. Before and after the snap, Bridgewater is calm, cool and collected in making an analytical decision on where to go with the football. Bridgewater’s mistakes come from trying to do too much, not from missing a read or making a poor decision on where to go with the football.”
As mentioned earlier, Bridgewater has also proven himself to be a big-game player against a worthy opponent, as he showed last January against Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
The Associated Press quoted Bridgewater after Louisville’s upset and his strategy to help his team win, “I looked at what did and didn’t work for quarterbacks during the regular season,” said Bridgewater, picked as the game’s top player. “They faced guys forcing throws … and coach tells me, `No capes on your back or ‘S’ on your chest, take what the defense give you.’ That’s what I took. Film study was vital.” What other quarterbacks in the NCAA backup their execution plan with over 3,000 passing yards and only three interceptions?
So what if Louisville is only 10-1 instead of 11-0? How can you suddenly forget the remarkable season Bridgewater has had after one loss? Sebastian Lena of CNN backs Bridgewater up, “If Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and his two losses are still very much in it, why shouldn’t Bridgewater be too?”
Teddy Bridgewater is the definition of a worthy Heisman Trophy winner. He has the right attitude towards himself and his team, he doesn’t get involved in altercations, he approaches the game with a good strategy of outworking a defense through learning from previous mistakes and watching other quarterbacks and what they do to succeed, and his numbers and Louisville’s record backs it all up.