The Florida Gators defense has the task of stopping Louisville Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, but should prevail with ease.
Bridgewater has been one of the top quarterbacks in the country this season, throwing for nearly 3,500 yards with 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He completed 69 percent of his passes and will enter the game with a 161.6 passer rating.
Bridgewater came off the bench for the Cardinals in their regular-season finale against Rutgers because of a sprained ankle and fractured wrist. That didn’t stop him from completing 20-of-28 pass attempts for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
Who will win the 2013 Sugar Bowl?
Louisville’s entire offense revolves around Bridgewater and whether he can make good throws down the field.
Florida owns one of the top defenses in the nation, allowing the third-fewest points per game this year at 12.9. The Gators only allow approximately 186 yards through the air per game while also picking off the eighth-most passes with 19.
Safety Matt Elam leads the team with four interceptions on the season while defensive back Jaylen Watkins is right behind him with three.
The Gators defense kept Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Georgia’s Aaron Murray under control in some of the tougher games this season—with Florida’s only loss coming against Georgia—but recognizes another challenge against Bridgewater.
“I feel like, hands down, he’s the best quarterback we will face this year,” Elam told USA Today's David Jones.
One of the biggest keys to stopping Bridgewater will be applying pressure early to keep him from creating space and completing a pass. Those on the defensive line for Florida have to attack him quickly while the defensive backs have to stay close to their receiver.
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn shared the team's approach to stopping Bridgewater:
For us, we sometimes call it denying the ball, where you have to play a little bit tighter coverage on people to make them make tight throws. The other thing we say is get the quarterback off the spot, so making him not feel comfortable back in the pocket. Sometimes, I say for us to win the game we have got to affect the quarterback.
The Gators have a couple of pass-rushers who can get to the quarterback quickly for sacks, which is exactly what Florida has to do against Bridgewater.
But by looking at the success Florida has had against some of the best quarterbacks in the country this season—especially Manziel—there shouldn’t any issues with stopping Bridgewater.
He is just another quarterback who will feel the wrath of the Gator defense.