Has Teddy’s time finally arrived at Louisville?
With starting quarterback Will Stein questionable for Saturday’s game against Marshall with a “shoulder injury,” freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater could make his first start against the Thundering Herd.
Stein, who didn’t practice at all last week after injuring his shoulder in the first half of Louisville’s 24-17 win over Kentucky two weeks ago, wore a sling on his throwing arm Friday night at Trinity’s game against Indianapolis Cathedral.
“We don’t know if he’s going to play,” Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said Monday. “He couldn’t play [if the game were] today. Last week he did not practice.”
Bridgewater played a big role in helping Louisville to a ‘statement’ win over Kentucky, throwing for two touchdowns against the Wildcats in relief of Stein, who started UofL’s first three games this season. Despite a hostile environment against a rival who had won four straight games against the Cardinals, Bridgewater played mistake free football while completing 10-of-18 passes for 106 yards.
“He has always carried himself as a starter,” Strong said. “Our players weren’t shocked at the way he played against Kentucky because they expect that of him. And he expects that of himself.”
A former four-star recruit and U.S. Army All-American, Bridgewater enrolled at UofL last spring with as much hype as any recruit in recent memory. Though Stein emerged from fall camp as the starter, Bridgewater has impressed his older teammates with his maturity and leadership qualities.
“I’ve had confidence in Teddy since he stepped on campus,” senior defensive end Greg Scruggs said. “When he stepped on campus he didn’t look like a regular true freshman. He carries himself with a calm demeanor.”
Scruggs recounted how Bridgewater, who had played just two offensive series’ in Louisville’s first two games, settled his nerves before taking the field at Commonwealth Stadium.
“He actually calmed me down before the Kentucky game,” Scruggs said. “That just shows how mature he is and how far beyond his years he really is. I’m fully confident that if he’s out there playing he’ll take control of the team and do what he needs to do to get us the win.”
Typically, freshmen carry the bags, so to speak, for the upperclassmen. Not Bridgewater, who Scruggs says has total respect from all of his teammates.
“I’m a senior, I’m supposed to be a leader, but that doesn’t mean I don’t listen to somebody younger than me, especially somebody like (Teddy), he’s the quarterback of the team,” Scruggs said. “If Teddy says something, you best believe I’m going to listen. If he asks something of me I’m going to do it just because he’s in the position where he demands the respect of his teammates.”
That’s unusual in Scruggs’ experience at UofL.
“I haven’t seen this since I’ve been here,” Scruggs said. “It’s new to me. I’ve gained a whole new respect for him because of that. He carries himself like he’s been here four or five years. It’s unbelievable and I commend him for having such leadership ability….”