What can Teddy Bridgewater do for you? He can throw 4 touchdowns in the first half, he can make the toughest throws look effortless, he can go 23-28 for 5 TDS, 355 yards in front of 55,332 fans. Perhaps the better question is simply: What can Teddy Bridgewater NOT do?
On Sunday evening, the Heisman Candidate (quickly ascending to a Heisman frontrunner) went everywhere but backwards in a 49-7 route of Ohio (0-1).
It wasn’t just Bridgewater for the Cards. It was outstanding defense. The Cardinal Defense had a shutout for nearly 3 quarters of the game, and led Head Coach Charlie Strong to call the unit ‘dominant’. It was the WR Core, one that continues to submit itself as the best in the country, one that saw Kai De La Cruz go for a surprising 109 receiving yards and 2 TDs. Heck, even the Louisville RB core got in on the action; fans got their glimpse of an electric Michael Dyer when he went for a 46 yard TD.
“Everything was clicking like it was supposed to,” RB Senorise Perry said. “Once we got in a rhythm, Teddy (Bridgewater) starting getting it going, the Receivers started clicking, It was very good…Finishing what we started was the biggest thing.”
It was a complete game, something that Charlie Strong hasn’t had much of while at Louisville. Ohio Head Coach Frank Solich called the game the ‘longest afternoon of his life’. It’s also a game that could have went a bit differently last season.
When the Cardinals jumped out to commanding 28-0 lead at the end of the first half, their minds went to last season against North Carolina. The Cardinals held a 36-7 lead over the Tar Heels last season at halftime. Instead of shutting the door, the Cardinals allowed North Carolina to crawl but into the game and held on for 39-34. It stuck in their memory and they refused to let it happen again.
“At halftime we have a lot of players reiterating that,” RB Dominique Brown explained. “They were saying, ‘Don’t let this be like the North Carolina game’.”
It never resembled last season and it didn’t surprise Head Coach Charlie strong, who said he felt like the team could ‘dominate Ohio’. They certainly did that racking up 607 yards of total offense.
“We expected this from the offense,” RB Senorise Perry noted. “We always expect this from the offense, that’s just how things work.”
The defense? The one that wasn’t nearly up to standards for Defensive Coordinator Vance Beford? The one that the Coaching Staff had serious concern about their tackling ability? They silenced a lot of the critics. The Cardinals held the Bobcats to 273 yards of total offense. Even more impressive? They limited 2012 1600 yard rusher Beau Blankenship to 22 yards, the second lowest output of his career.
“It’s just a pride in the defense now,” LB Preston Brown noted postgame. “It was great to see. Everybody went out there, hustled and preformed. It felt really good today.”
With critics of the Louisville Football loudly proclaiming Louisville an imposter Top Ten team, Louisville played with a chip on their shoulder. Along the way, they certainly proved their worth to one Head Coach.
“I don’t think there is any question that they are a Top 10 Team,” Ohio Head Coach Frank Solich said. “They way they played, the way they executed, the quality of athlete, there’s no doubt about it they’re a Top 10 team. I think it’s the best team we’ve played since I’ve been at Ohio and that includes Ohio State when they were ranked.
It’s a more mature Cardinal team and a more experienced team, one that seems hellbent on doing whatever takes to get recognition. That was on total display. Louisville wanted to send a message and they certainly accomplished that Sunday evening.
“I feel like we’re the best College Football team in America,” WR Damian Copeland noted. “We just have to take one game at a time an dnot get ahead of ourselves.”
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