FIU at Lousville | Saturday, Noon, ESPN3

Louisville QB, Miami Northwestern grad Teddy Bridgewater building his Heisman bid

 

FIU expects to have its hands full with Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the former Miami Northwestern High star who ranks among the nation’s leaders in passing yards.

 
Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Louisville Cardinals gives instructions to his team during the game against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Louisville Cardinals gives instructions to his team during the game against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Andy Lyons / Getty Images

dneal@MiamiHerald.com

Everybody’s talking about Louisville quarterback and Miami Northwestern High graduate Teddy Bridgewater these days.

The Heisman Trophy trackers talk about Bridgewater. He’s near the top of all the Heisman Watch lists, right there around last year’s winner, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Statistically, Bridgewater is third nationally in gross passing yards (1,002) and fourth in passing efficiency (201.3 points) with a 10/1 touchdown/interception ratio that warms coaches’ hearts even more than Heisman voters.

You win the Heisman in big games against high-profile opponents. You keep yourself in position to win the Heisman in games such as Saturday’s against 0-3 FIU.

“Teddy’s played well each and every game,” Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. “Our players understand that on offense as he goes, the team goes. We still have a lot of games left, but Teddy’s performed at the level we’ve expected him to.”

NFL trackers can’t stop talking about Teddy Bridgewater, especially after Cleveland traded running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first-round pick on Wednesday. The consensus from NFL analysts in the media: The Browns were stockpiling first-round picks while weakening their roster so as to have a better chance of drafting Bridgewater high in 2014’s first round.

FIU coach Ron Turner is a former NFL quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. The day before the trade, the brother of Cleveland offensive coordinator Norv Turner and uncle of Cleveland wide receivers coach Scott Turner said he definitely sees Bridgewater as NFL material.

“He’s smart, he’s instinctive, he’s accurate, he leads,” Ron Turner said. “When you put on the film and watch somebody play, you know [whether or not] that quarterback is in charge. Sometimes, you don’t see that, sometimes, you do see that. You put him on and you say, ‘That quarterback is in charge.’ There’s nothing he can’t do. He can throw it, he can run. He can get them out of bad plays and into good plays. He’s a hell of a football player. As good as I’ve seen in a long time.”

Press him on his best quality and Bridgewater will admit it’s his leadership. But among the few people not talking about Teddy Bridgewater — or not as readily willing to talk about Teddy Bridgewater — is Teddy Bridgewater.

“I don’t pay any attention to it,” Bridgewater said of the media noise with his name. “Any of it. At the end of the day, it’s about this team.”

That’s not faux toe-scraping to mollify fans or media who harrumph at brash cash gestures and prepping for playing on Sunday from college quarterbacks. Talk to Bridgewater’s past teammates or friends and “humble” gets recycled.

“Very humble guy, very enthusiastic on the field,” said FIU redshirt sophomore wide receiver Dominqiue Rhymes, Northwestern Class of 2011 with Bridgewater. “He doesn’t brag on himself. He doesn’t want anybody to brag on him. He just stays humble. He just wants to work hard at his craft.”

FIU sophomore E.J. Hilliard, a good friend of Bridgewater’s and Saturday’s starter for the Panthers, said, “Always laid back, always humble, always cracking jokes. I haven’t seen a change in him. He’s always been mature. Same guy that I’ve known since the ninth grade.”

Bridgewater said: “I just felt that being humble is part of how you always have to be at the quarterback position. If you remain calm and always have a positive demeanor, that right there can carry a team a long way.”

He claims he never thinks about what might have been had he not switched from the University of Miami, where he verbally committed before head coach Randy Shannon’s firing, to Louisville. That’s understandable. Since Bridgewater took over from senior Will Stein in the middle of the third game of his freshman year, Louisville tied for a Big East title, won another Big East title outright and whipped Florida in January’s Sugar Bowl.

One of Bridgewater’s few pedestrian games came in last year’s 28-21 win at FIU: 19 of 36 for 194 yards, two TDs and two interceptions.

“No nervousness, none at all,” he said about last year’s and this year’s game. “As another opponent on the schedule, we’re just going to continue to play Louisville football.”

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