CRAWFORD | Louisville loss shouldn't tarnish Bridgewater - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Louisville loss shouldn't tarnish Bridgewater

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© Associated Press photo. © Associated Press photo.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I could look up the guy's name, but that would only mean I'd be calling him out as an idiot specifically instead of generally. So I won't bother.

Driving home from Louisville's basketball scrimmage on Saturday, I listened to a national radio host on Fox Sports Radio tee off on Teddy Bridgewater, calling him overrated, saying that his Heisman candidacy was a sham.

I don't know how widespread that opinion is, but a few points of clarification.

He had no Heisman candidacy. He specifically asked not to have one, and the school obliged. He was considered a Heisman candidate, but there's a difference. Bridgewater was not going to win that award. It became clear as the season progressed that the Louisville offense wasn't going to put up sufficient numbers for him to win, whether by design or performance.

He wasn't sharp in a nationally televised Thursday night win over Rutgers, and that was that.

But in the Cardinals' first loss of the season, against Central Florida on Saturday, he was sharp. He completed 17 of his first 19 passes. He threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns.

On the season, he has thrown for 20 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He ranks sixth in the nation in yards per attempt. He ranks third in the nation in efficiency rating. He's 12th nationally in yards per game. He's tied with Florida State's Jameis Winston for third nationally with 20 touchdown passes. His completion percentage of 72 percent is fourth nationally.

In short, Bridgewater is not going to win the Heisman. But he absolutely belongs on the podium.

I'm not sure how you can watch Louisville's loss to UCF and pin it on Bridgewater. With the game on the line, he got the ball pinned deep in his own territory and drove his team 88 yards in nine plays. He completed 5 of 7 passes on that drive (one was a drop) for 66 yards, and converted a big fourth down on a pass interference call on a throw to DeVante Parker. On the drive before that, he hit receiver Damian Copeland on third down right in the hands, but Copeland couldn't pull in the catch when fully extended. It would've been a difficult catch, but it was a beautifully thrown ball, and gave the receiver a chance.

On third down in that game, Bridgewater was 6 of 8 for 87 yards and six conversions. And some moron wants to get on the radio to say he choked?

What's harder to diagnose as an outsider is what kind of decisions Bridgewater is making in the running game, his check-down decisions, or in calling protections. He has an offensive line that is struggling, which also needs to be weighed in assessing his performance.

He should remain one of the top NFL Draft hopefuls in college football.

Louisville as a team will be written off after its last two weeknight performances, and from a national standpoint, that's understandable. It's the price of losing in the American Athletic Conference.

But Bridgewater isn't the reason for those struggles. And he certainly doesn't deserve to be dismissed because of them.

Chances are, he's lost his opportunity to be a Heisman finalist, based on the profile of his team. But to listen to a radio host say, "He's this year's Geno Smith," is to listen to someone who is making a comparison based on race, not on reality.

Bridgewater is a better pro prospect now than he was at the beginning of the season, regardless of the fickle nature of Heisman hype.

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