It was due to no fault of his own, however, and his NFL stock couldn't be much higher.
Playing against a physical and underrated Knights squad that held its opponents to just 16.6 points per game heading into this contest, Bridgewater once again performed at a high level and nearly led his team to yet another victory.
He finished the game having completed 29 of his 38 attempts for 341 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
At one point in the fourth quarter, with his team down by three points, Bridgewater shovel-passed a ball to Dominique Brown for a critical first down, as noted by Jason Caldwell of AUTigers.com:
That was a heck of a play by Teddy Bridgewater with the flip for the first down.— Jason Caldwell (@ITATJason) October 19, 2013
Bridgewater engineered a go-ahead touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter, completing six of his eight passes for 65 yards on the drive. This was a game Louisville should have won, but its defense let its quarterback down for the first time this season.
The Cardinals had allowed just 7.3 points per game before hosting Central Florida, which was too hot to handle this Friday night.
Win or lose this week, the junior quarterback was and is the top quarterback available in the 2014 NFL draft. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller recently did some film study on Bridgewater and called him elite, comparing him to Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers:
Everyone sees the game differently, but I don't know how you can look at Teddy Bridgewater and not see an elite prospect.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 19, 2013
Aaron Rodgers, Colin Kaepernick. RT @jsc905: what are your Bridgewater and Mariota NFL comparisons?— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 19, 2013
It's an apt comparison.
Like the All-Pro Rodgers, Bridgewater is exceptionally gifted both as a runner and as a passer, but he rarely uses his feet to make plays. He's a pure pocket passer who can also run—a different breed than young quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton.
Though he doesn't possess the raw arm strength of top guns in the NFL, his accuracy and ball placement on most throws is stellar. Bridgewater also makes excellent decisions with the football, and when his number is called he has delivered for the Cardinals time and time again.
But watching Louisville play is maddening at times.
Head coach Charlie Strong is completely dedicated to the running game, even though Bridgewater is undoubtedly one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Before Friday night's game, Bridgewater had attempted just 176 passes, compared to the team's 208 rushing attempts.
To complement Bridgewater, Louisville is stacked with talent at the receiver positions: Wideout DeVante Parker is an NFL-type talent, too, and his running mate, wide receiver Damian Copeland, is highly reliable.
If Louisville wanted to let loose with a potent passing attack, it easily could.
Bridgewater could comfortably rack up 350-plus passing yards per game, and his touchdown totals would soar if Louisville's coaches would commit more to the passing game. As it stands, even playing second fiddle to the Cardinals' rushing attack, Bridgewater has thrown 20 touchdowns this season in seven games.
With just two interceptions.
Should Bridgewater be among the top Heisman vote-getters this season?
Relying more on Bridgewater's passing abilities would give the signal-caller a better shot at winning the Heisman Trophy in 2013. Unfortunately, Louisville isn't featuring the pass enough to allow him to seriously contend for the award.
With guys like Marcus Mariota, Johnny Manziel, Tajh Boyd and Brett Hundley receiving huge attention for their noteworthy contributions to their teams, Bridgewater's limited role (relative to those players) keeps him in a tier below them.
However, this won't affect his NFL draft stock, which is soaring. Andrew Luck was similarly used by Stanford, and he ended up just fine once the NFL draft came around.
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