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Tag:Teddy Bridgewater
Posted on: October 30, 2011 4:03 am
 

Big East Winners and Losers: Week 9



Posted by Chip Patterson


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: West Virginia's BCS title hopes

Trailing by 10 at halftime on the road against Rutgers in swirling snow, West Virginia faced the possibility of dropping their second straight conference game. It could have been a repeat of 2010, when back-to-back conference losses caused West Virginia to lose a three-team tie for the conference title. The Mountaineers were denied a trip to a BCS bowl and instead found themselves playing in the Champs Sports Bowl in December.

But the Mountaineers' defense got opportunistic in the second half, and Shawne Alston led a ground attack that seemed to catch the Scarlet Knights off guard. The 20-0 shut out in the final two quarters helped seal the 41-31 victory and keep West Virginia alive in the hunt for the Big East title. Cincinnati is still undefeated, but West Virginia will have an opportunity to claim the tiebreaker over the Bearcats in another road test in two weeks. They'll likely need to win out in order to win the conference, but at least they still control their destiny.

LOSER: Gary Nova

When freshman quarterback Gary Nova replaced Chas Dodd as the starting quarterback at Rutgers, he received praise for his maturity despite being a true freshman. But on Saturday Nova showed his age playing against a tough opponent in hostile conditions. As the snowy mix fell from the sky during Rutgers' 41-31 loss to West Virginia, Nova began to lose his control of the ball as the game progressed. Two fumbles under center halted Scarlet Knights' drives during a frustrating second half for Rutgers. With a 10-point halftime lead, it looked as though the Scarlet Knights were poised to pull the upset in the strange playing conditions. But the inability to sustain a drive led to a disappointing finish, as Rutgers was held scoreless through the entire second half.

WINNER: Louisville's offense

It's hard to tell if Louisville's offensive growth is a credit to the changes on the coaching staff or Teddy Bridgewater's development, but either way things are moving in the right direction for the Cardinals. Louisville put up 343 total yards of offense and a season-high 27 points in the victory over Syracuse on Saturday. Teddy Bridgwater was sharp in the pocket, completing 17 of 24 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns and - most importantly - no interceptions.

It was a huge win for Charlie Strong's squad, which despite their early season struggles currently sit just one game out of first place in the Big East. All of the sudden, Louisville is looking at the possibilities of another postseason berth under the second-year coach. The improvements to the offense have helped the team settle on their identity, and Saturday was a moment of arrival for the Cardinals.

LOSER: Connecticut's quarterbacks

While Connecticut's quarterback rotation has narrowed to Johnny McEntee as the starter and Scott McCummings as your change-of-pace running threat, the strength of the position has not improved all season. Johnny McEntee looked like a walk-on against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, completing just 17 of 33 passes for 193 yards. He threw no interceptions, though probably should have been picked off 3-4 times by packaging misread passes right into the hands of the Panthers' defense. McEntee looks nervous under pressure, and does not avoid sacks well at all.

Unfortunately for first-year head coach Paul Pasqualoni, there just aren't many options offensively other than to tough it out with what he has. Freshman running back Lyle McCombs has been promising, and notched another 100-yard performance (his fifth of the season) with the 124 yard output against Pittsburgh. It is a frustrating moment to realize that "this is the best you are going to do," but that's exactly what Connecticut fans have with their offense right now.

WINNER: Cincinnati 

Even though the Bearcats were off, Butch Jones and Co. were winners in Week 9. As the rest of the league spent the weekend beating each other up and shuffling the conference standings, the Bearcats remain at their position on top. Undefeated in league play, the Bearcats still control their destiny in terms of the Big East title and a BCS bowl bid. Arguably two of the toughest challenges on the schedule await Cincinnati in the next two weeks with a road trip to Pittsburgh and a home game against West Virginia. Getting the extra week to rest and prepare, while Rutgers and Syracuse (both road games in late November) fell an extra game behind in the standings made Week 9 enjoyable for Cincinnati fans with Big East title hopes.

LOSER: Syracuse's momentum 

Syracuse is one of the least-consistent 5-3 teams in the nation right now. The Orange failed to reach bowl eligibility on Saturday with their 27-10 loss at the hands of Louisville. They looked uninspired, lifeless, and completely different from the squad that knocked off West Virginia 49-23 last weekend. Of course, THAT team looked different than the one that squeaked out a 37-34 win over Tulane. There is no continuity or consistency to the play of Syracuse this season, something that makes them wildly unpredictable and still dangerous in Big East play.

With four conference games left, it would take a meltdown for Doug Marrone not to take Syracuse back to the postseason. Unfortunately picking up their second conference loss likely plays them out of the Big East title race. All of the momentum Syracuse had after the big West Virginia win is gone, and now the Orange will try to get it back next week against Connecticut on the road.


WINNER: Eric LeGrand

We've covered this moment extensively today, but I figured it was worth one last post. The inspiring video of Eric LeGrand re-joining his teammates on the field before Rutgers-West Virginia.



LOSER: Ray Graham


Pittsburgh's offense took a hit on Wednesday night, with star running back Ray Graham suffering a knee injury that will require season-ending surgery. In a roller-coaster season for Pittsburgh's offense, Graham has been the only steady component. The junior running back entered the weekend as the nation's second-leading rusher, averaging 135 yards per game. Graham is the perfect back for head coach Todd Graham's offensive scheme, providing a dangerous receiving threat out of the backfield as well. Heading into the Panthers' 35-20 win over Connecticut, Graham accounted for nearly 40% of the Pittsburgh's offensive yards. The one bit of good news was how the rest of the offense responded to the injury. Quarterback Tino Sunseri played his best game of the season, throwing for 419 yards and leading the Panthers in rushing with 40 yards and a touchdown. Pittsburgh (4-4) will need more of that from Sunseri if they plan to be playing football in late December.


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Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 10:20 am
 

Louisville C Benavides (ankle) ready to return

Posted by Chip Patterson

Louisville's struggling offensive line should finally get an upgrade with the return of center Mario Benavides. The junior offensive lineman was the starter for most of 2009 and 2010, but has missed the first three games of the season with an ankle injury.

"I feel like I'm going to play," Benavides told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "The main thing is getting into a rhythm. Playing offensive line is the most unnatural human position you can play, just the whole technique of it."

The veteran center admitted he's still out of game shape, and needs to get acclimated to a brand new rotation along the offensive line. Louisville's young team is still getting adjusted to the new personnel, and the benefactors have been opposing defenses. Through three games, the Cardinals rank 116th nationally in sacks allowed per game (3.67). Only Pittsburgh is worse in the Big East - allowing 18 sacks in four games of action (4.50 per game).

The questions regarding the rotations on the offensive line have been matched with questions in the offensive backfield for head coach Charlie Strong. Junior Will Stein has started all three games for the Cardinals, but Strong has used freshman Teddy Bridgewater for several series and Dominique Brown in the "Wildcard" package.

When Stein suffered a shoulder injury in the the second quarter of Louisville's 24-17 victory over Kentucky, it was Bridgewater who filled in and led the Cardinals to win in the battle for the Governor's Cup. Even with a week off, Stein is still listed as questionable for Saturday's matchup with Marhsall. According to reports, Stein did not participate in contact drills on Wednesday, but did begin throwing passes. If the junior is not able to play against the Thundering Herd, Strong confirmed earlier in the week Bridgewater would get the start.

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Posted on: September 19, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Strong: Stein and Bridgewater will both see field

Posted by Chip Patterson

Louisville's 2-1 start to the second season under head coach Charlie Strong has not exactly been graceful. After their offense was shut out in the second half of a 21-9 opening day win over Murray State, the Cardinals were burned by T.Y. Hilton and FIU before getting back on track against Kentucky in the annual matchup for the Governor's Cup.

The 24-17 victory over the Wildcats featured a strong performance from highly-touted freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinals have been using Bridgewater and Wildcard quarterback Dominique Brown all season, but a shoulder injury to starting quarterback Will Stein gave the true freshman from Miami his first chance to develop a rhythm while quarterbacking several successive drives.

Bridgewater made the most of the opportunity, completing 10 of 18 passes for 106 yards and two interceptions. The most important aspect of Bridgewater's performance, according to Strong, was his ability to manage the game and keep the Cardinals from turning the ball over.

In Monday's Big East coaches teleconference, Strong said that Will Stein will likely be ready to play again Oct. 1 when the Cardinals face Marshall. According to the head coach Stein could have returned to the field against Kentucky if he was needed, but the combination of Bridgewater's play and the Cardinals' second half lead kept the junior quarterback out of harms' way.

Saturday also showcased Dominique Brown lining up at several different positions offensively. His primary role until the Kentucky game was a Wildcard quarterback, but Brown lined up as both running back and wide receiver at different times against their in-state rivals. Strong laughed off the notion that it was a secret he was saving for Kentucky, suggesting instead that Brown is too athletic to not get a chance at those skill positions.

The young Cardinals team will benefit from a week off before starting conference play in mid-October. Strong expects to continue using Stein and Bridgewater together at quarterback, while featuring Brown as the Wildcard quarterback and possibly more. With so many underclassmen getting game reps already - particularly at positions on the offensive line - Strong will get to use this week for teaching.

Which is good for the Cardinals, who are in need of some learning.

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Posted on: September 18, 2011 2:45 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Sept. 17)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. The Big East lost big time on Saturday, and never saw it coming. Big East commissioner John Marinatto sat down in Byrd Stadium on Saturday to watch West Virginia take on Maryland. When he made the arrangements to attend the game, I bet he didn't know that he would be in an ACC stadium while being informed of reports Pittsburgh and Syracuse are leaving for that very conference. When reached for comment about the reports, Marinatto had none. Based on reports from the stadium, the commissioner never saw it coming.

If true, it is incredibly embarrassing for the league office and not a great sign for the league members. TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte already expressed his concerns regarding the shifts in conference alignment, and the departure of two teams has led to league officials reaching out to current Big 12 members. It's possible that if Oklahoma and Texas leave the Big 12, the remaining members (likely that Oklahoma State would follow OU, possible Texas Tech follows Texas) could fold in with the remaining members of the Big East.

From a conference perspective, league officials needed to decide whether they wanted to play offense or defense in realignment. Texas A&M started the process, but the power move was made on Saturday when the Big East lost two more schools to the ACC - bringing the tally to five schools in a decade. Syracuse was a founding member of the conference, and Pittsburgh had become a perennial contender in football and basketball. The Big East only added TCU as their offensive move, and were completely unprepared for Saturday's news defensively. The conference only has a $5 million exit fee, as opposed to the recently approved $20 million exit fee for the ACC (unanimously voted on last week by the school presidents). The Big East lost two schools, and a lot of leverage in conference realignment. Now John Marinatto must scramble, and make efforts to secure TCU's interest in the conference as well as develop a plan to replace the departed universities. Ironically, the conference went 4-2 on Saturday. Only Pittsburgh and Syracuse picked up losses.

2. Give West Virginia the ball and flip a coin, if it's heads they'll score. The Mountaineers finally got a ground game going in the 37-31 win at Maryland on Saturday, with Andrew Buie, Vernard Roberts, and Shawne Alston combining for 107 yards on 25 attempts. The numbers aren't fantastic, but it is an upgrade from where the rushing attack was heading into College Park. Head coach Dana Holgorsen mentioned that teams were daring West Virginia's offense to run the ball, and if they couldn't make it a threat it would be a weakness moving forward.

Instead of the run setting up the pass, the pass sets up the run in Morgantown. The mere presence of a rushing threat completes an already efficient West Virginia offense. On the season the Mountaineers have scored on 17 of 31 drives uninterrupted by the end of a half. Give West Virginia the ball, there's more than a 50% chance that Geno Smith will methodically march down the field and turn the possession into points on the scoreboard. With West Virginia's secondary causing all kinds of trouble for 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien, you have to feel good about the state of West Virginia's offense. Of course, we reach this conclusion one week before the Mountaineers face LSU's defense. I believe they present just a little bit of a different threat than the Terps.

3. USF does not get caught "playing to their competition." - The Bulls' offense scored less than 20 points on five different occasions in 2010. I'm willing to bet it doesn't happen more than twice in 2011, if even that. South Florida refused to play down to their Sun Belt opponents on Saturday, lighting up the scoreboard in the 70-17 victory. The blowout comes on the heels of a 37-7 route of Ball State, where BJ Daniels really started to get the Bulls' offense clicking. Everything was moving in full gear against the Rattlers, with Daniels setting a career-high for the second week in a row tossing for 382 yards and four touchdowns. USF scored on eight of their first ten drives, and also featured the breakout of Colorado transfer Darrell Scott. Scott put up career numbers as well with 146 yards rushing, 84 yards receiving, and four total touchdowns. The Notre Dame win felt like it more of a Irish loss at the time, but the sloppy, rain-delayed victory might have been the spark to kick off a potentially memorable season for the young program.

4. Pittsburgh's defense has to improve second half performance. A huge red flag went up last weekend, when the Panthers allowed a blatantly inferior Maine squad climb back into the game in the fourth quarter. The Black Bears did score their final touchdown with three seconds remaining, resulting in a misleading six-point victory, but the it was concerning nonetheless. The trend of poor second half defense finally caught up with the Panthers against Iowa on Saturday, resulting in a 31-27 loss.

Kevin Harper's 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter gave Pitt a seemingly safe 27-10 lead. Then this touted 3-4 defense sat back and allowed James Vandenberg to go to work on the secondary. Iowa's offense put up 201 of their 475 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter, sending the Panthers packing with no answers for their poor play. The Panthers will get one more non-conference game to fix these issues before kicking off the Big East schedule against South Florida at home. Unfortunately for the Panthers, next week's opponent is a much-improved Notre Dame squad fresh off a confidence-building victory against Michigan State.

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Posted on: September 7, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 11:42 am
 

Louisville will use 3 quarterbacks against FIU

Posted by Chip Patterson

Louisville's offensive performance, particularly in the second half, was less than spectacular in their debut against Murray State on Thursday. Head coach Charlie Strong acknowledged that his team, while victorious, still had plenty of things to improve on heading into their matchup on Friday with Florida International.

"It's great to get a win. But we didn't play well in the second half, it was like a tale of two halves," Strong said in this week's Big East teleconference. "The first half we scored three out of first four drives, second half we couldn't move the ball at all. You know if's your first game, but you have to finish."

Not only did the Cardinals struggle moving the ball, they also turned it over to the Racers four times. Two of those turnovers came from quarterbacks Will Stein (fumble) and Teddy Bridgewater (interception). But Strong has not changed his stance on the quarterback position at all, and he will plan to use three different players under center on Friday.

Stein will once again get the start, with the touted-freshman Bridgewater seeing some action and Dominique Brown running the specialized "Wildcard" package. Stein's success came mostly in the first half, but he finished with 226 yards passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Bridgewater's college debut was short lived, and the freshman did not attempt another pass after his interception.

There is a lot of excitement about Bridgewater's ability, but Thursday confirmed many suspicions that the Miami-native still has some adjusting to do before stepping in as the leader of the offense. Luckily, Stein has proven he can be a productive starter for the Cardinals while their prized recruit gets acclimated to the college game.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 5:15 pm
 

PODCAST: Three studs, three duds from Thursday

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here's the podcast I recorded with Adam Aizer earlier today, looking at the three studs and three duds of Thursday. I picked four studs. I can't do anything right.

Click here to listen in a new window, or listen in the embedded player below.

I should have given extra kudos to Vick Ballard, by the way, mainly because of his name. One, it sounds like the name of a 265-pound running back, the type of guy who really has no business trying to run a 40-yard dash or wearing a form-fitting uniform. It's almost a disappointment that he's an average-sized tailback. And two, because I feel like America needs more young men named Vic, or Vick, or Victor. That's the kind of man that ends up owning an auto care shop -- or at the very least a non-ironic, grease-stained mechanic shirt with that name stitched onto the breast. Vic won't screw you over on that muffler repair. Vic does an honest day's work.

I digress.

Past all that, we talk Wisconsin and Russell Wilson a little more, and also Jordan Jefferson and LSU. I suppose I'm more on Adam Aizer's side than is evident in our answers to the question, in that I never thought this was LSU's year to begin with, but the odds of a win over Oregon are sufficiently lower now with Jarrett Lee under center than with Jefferson that it's fair to say that Jefferson's suspension is costing LSU the shot at the title (rather than, say, costing them the title outright).

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Posted on: August 29, 2011 11:07 am
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:34 pm
 

CBSSports.com Preseason Freshman All-America team

Posted by Bryan Fischer

CBSSports.com has released it's annual preseason All-America Team in college football, voted on by staff, writers and bloggers from CBSSports.com. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck headlines the the list after throwing for 32 touchdowns last season. With a talented freshman class expected to make an impact, the preseason freshman All-America Team is listed below.

The SEC had the most players on the team with eight players, followed by the Pac-12 with six players.

CBSSports.com Preseason All-America Team

Offense

QB -- Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
RB -- Isaiah Crowell, Georgia
RB -- Savon Huggins, Rutgers
WR -- Sammy Watkins, Clemson
WR -- Marqise Lee, USC
TE -- Nick O'Leary, Florida State
OL -- La'El Collins, LSU
OL -- Tyler Moore, Nebraska
OL -- Mitch Smothers, Arkansas
OL -- Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
C -- Reese Dismukes, Auburn

Defense

DE -- Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
DE -- Aaron Lynch, Notre Dame
DT -- Viliami Moala, Cal
DT -- Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
LB -- Tony Steward, Clemson
LB -- C.J. Johnson, Mississippi State
LB -- Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
DB -- Marcus Roberson, Florida
DB -- Wayne Lyons, Stanford
DB -- Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
DB -- Enrique Florence, Auburn

Special teams

K -- Andre Heidari, USC
P -- Pablo Beltran, Navy
All-Purpose -- De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon


Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:39 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:11 am
 

Tyler Gabbert chooses Louisville

Posted by Chip Patterson

Since joining Louisville, Cardinals coach Charlie Strong has been aggressive on the recruiting trail when it comes to quarterbacks. First the second-year coach snagged highly-touted recruit Teddy Bridgewater from Miami before signing day, and on Thursday, he unofficially welcomed Missouri transfer Tyler Gabbert to the program.



Gabbert, the younger brother of the Jacksonville Jaguars' first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, spent his freshman year with his brother at Missouri, but after losing the quarterback battle to James Franklin in spring practice, Gabbert opted to transfer in May.

Both Tyler and his older brother Blaine originally committed to Nebraska before changing their decision to Missouri. Former Cornhuskers offensive coordinator Shawn Watson (who recruited both brothers heavily while at Nebraska) is now the quarterbacks coach on Strong's staff. Gabbert's arrival gives Louisville a full stable of quarterbacks for 2012. While junior Will Stein will be the starting quarterback entering fall camp, Bridgewater has made it clear he will be ready whenever his name is called. Once Gabbert joins the duo next fall, Strong will have three different quarterbacks competing for snaps in 2012.

While some might argue that the position is too crowded, I can guarantee you a surplus of talent is not something that Louisville fans will be complaining about.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com