Baby D's Bagels
$20 Worth of Food and Drink for Only $10
Photo by John Nation

Teddy Bridgewater

August 28, 2013

Great expectations

Suddenly cast in the national spotlight, can the Louisville Cardinals deliver?

Who says you can’t judge a book by looking at its cover?

Or a football team by looking at its players — as in the case of the University of Louisville Cardinals, who appear to be just as big, just as fast and maybe even more talented than any recent Louisville team, including last year’s bunch that finished 11-2, dusting itself off after a couple of league losses to lay a haymaker on Florida in the Sugar Bowl. A shot heard ’round the college football world.

That Louisville team was powered by sophomores and juniors who are now juniors and seniors, led again by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Associated Press ranks Louisville No. 9 to start the season, and some observers think the Cardinals could rocket into another big BCS bowl and ruin another big-name team.

Maybe. Maybe not. Louisville kicks off the season Sunday at 3:30 p.m. against Ohio University in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, and by Dec. 5, when the Cardinals conclude the schedule with a likely cold-night game at Cincinnati (always tough), we’ll know if Louisville is still ranked on the BCS Times list of best-selling college football teams.

In the meantime, the most interesting facet of the Louisville football Cardinals isn’t the preseason hype, but the air of expectation among the players. They’re loose and happy, and seem ready to go. Not just the sure-handed receivers and cover-boy quarterback in the “skilled positions,” but throughout, a roster of players with skill. A cast of characters waiting to turn back the cover and find out what’s in the book — talking not so much about themselves, but about what they do, filling in the pages that tell the Louisville story.

And a good place to begin might be with the man who will touch the ball even before Teddy Bridgewater, center Jake Smith.

“There’s a lot of thinking in being an offensive lineman,” says Smith. “A lot of people think if they know the offense, they’ll be fine. But it’s not just about knowing the offenses — that’s a given. It’s really about knowing the defenses. It’s a big challenge that every team you face brings a different defense with different blitzes and different personnel every week. You have to understand the blitzes, the fronts, the coverages.”

Fans might notice the way today’s offensive lines don’t just break out of the huddle and take their stance, set in cement until the ball is snapped. They look around. Bob up and down. Bark signals among themselves even before Bridgewater begins his count. All in reaction to how they find the defense arrayed before them. The center is the Speaker of the House, with the gavel of final decision on how the line will block.

Then comes the explosion.

“You actually have to block people — that’s the hard part,” says Smith, with the grin of a guy named Jake. “Contrary to popular belief, blocking is not easy. It’s pretty hard. You’ve got somebody weighing 300 pounds running right at you, and you have to completely stop their force — while back-peddling. It’s tough. Not easy to block people.”

It helps to have size. Smith weighs in at more than 300 pounds, and some of his line mates are even bigger.

Like Abraham Garcia, a 6-foot-5, 347-pound sophomore from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., who is bidding to start at right tackle. Garcia is better known as “Nacho,” a nickname tagged on him by a high school coach looking for something a little livelier than Abraham.

“I don’t mind being Nacho,” says Garcia, his face lining up in a wide-brimmed smile. “It’s a way for everybody to know me. It’s a catchy thing. It just sticks. In fact, it got so when they’d call me over the intercom, it would be not for Abraham Garcia, but, ‘Can you send Nacho up to the office, please?’”

Name recognition might go with the size of the name, too.

“It’s a great feeling to know that when you’re walking out there and you’re a big person that people automatically see you, and they have the automatic respect, ‘OK, this is a big monster of a guy, we got to look out for him.’”

All of which is fun, but Garcia brings a listener around to the real point of having size: “It’s our motto: Protect and win,” explains Garcia. “You protect, you win. You give Teddy time, he’s going to make the right throw. He’s the most accurate quarterback in the NCAA, I believe.”

A perfect example came in the first game of last season, right at the start, when a Kentucky kickoff pinned Louisville in a deep hole inside its own 10-yard line. A sizable Big Blue faction smelled Cardinal red blood and was howling for it.

But the Louisville line gave Bridgewater the time he needed. Split end Damian Copeland took two or three strides down the right sideline, planted his right foot at the first down marker, and leaned low into the field. And there was Bridgewater’s pass hummed in on a low line where only Copeland could catch it. And he did.

A great way to start the season.

On other days, Bridgewater finds other receivers. DeVante Parker, who skies high for passes and scores the most touchdowns, might make All-American. But there’s a whole raft of pass catchers who seem to take their cue from Bridgewater. “If he can come in with a perfect pass,” they think, “the least I can do is catch it.” And they do.

“You give him enough time, he’ll kill the defense,” says Garcia, admiringly. “Teddy picks defenses apart. He can read everything. He’ll be able to put the ball anywhere. Give him the time, and he’ll do it.”

And about that “protect” part, nowhere is it more crucial than where Javon Brown lines up at the Secret Service position — or its football equivalent, left tackle. In pro football, left tackle is a premium pay position because that’s the guy who has a right-handed quarterback’s back. And Brown knows his job is to protect the right-handed Louisville franchise, Teddy Bridgewater.

“Going into games, I know I’m going to face the best pass rusher on the opposing team,” says Brown, a Louisvillian who switches from right tackle to left this season. “Just seeing everything from the left side is different from the right side where I played last season. So I have to keep working on technique. Always working on technique.”

Work is a major theme for everybody on this team. Of course, work is an easy word to say, and every football player in the country seems able to slip it into every sentence. But one gets the idea Louisville’s players have spent enough dreary winter days in the weight room and hot afternoons on the practice field that they’re allowed to mention the word a few times.

 

If he played on an opposing team, defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin would be the very desperado Brown is desperate to stop — the top pass rusher.

“I know if I hit the gap the right way, and if I feel myself open and I can see the quarterback — and if nobody’s back there with the quarterback — I know I got him,” says Mauldin.

A serious fellow, and a pretty tough-looking customer, Mauldin stands about 6-5 and 243 pounds, with not a quarter inch of fat on him — topped out with gold-tinted dreadlocks. You can believe he does relish catching a quarterback, but he says it’s running till it hurts that helps defensive linemen gather themselves up to do something that can turn a game around.

“See, with running, well, Coach (Sherrone) Moore puts us through, like, a simulation drill,” Mauldin says. “He runs us through 20 all-out sprints, and he’ll say, ‘OK, you’ve got two more. If you guys run these as hard as you possibly can, this’ll be your last two. But if I see any of you guys pull up, then you’ve got to run four more.’ So all of us run the last two as fast as we possibly can, because you know we don’t want to run more.

“That’s what I feel like when we pull out a game in the last minute,” continues Mauldin, visualizing the last desperate moments of a tight game. “In the fourth quarter. On third-and-one. When we really need to hold those inches — that’s when we pull out something we never knew we had.”

In Louisville’s Sugar Bowl victory, Mauldin didn’t catch the Florida quarterback on the dramatic first play from scrimmage, but he was all-out trying — as Louisville’s pressure created an interception by safety Terell Floyd, who ran the ball in for a touchdown, setting an emphatic tone for the Cards’ 33-23 Sugar Bowl victory.

“We knew the first play was going to be a pass,” says Mauldin. “We learned that in practice. We’d been watching Florida for a while. All I was doing was going through my assignment, rushing off the edge. The next thing I know, I’m off the edge. I’m getting really close to the quarterback. The ball is tipped and T. Floyd catches the ball. I’m, like, ‘Oh! I need to find somebody to block.’ But wasn’t anybody blocking for T. Floyd because he was so fast into the end zone.”

Right next door to Mauldin on the defensive line is Brandon Dunn, who also remembers where he was when Louisville knocked Florida off the block on the first play of the Sugar Bowl.

“Coach had been saying we want to really get after Florida from the start,” says Dunn, a senior from Louisville. “All he was saying was, ‘Go-go-go, fast-fast-fast.’

“So we were ready to go on that first play,” Dunn continues. “The center snapped the ball, and the next thing I looked up and T. Floyd had the ball and was running into the end zone! I didn’t even know how it happened. But we were ready, and it took off from there.”

 

If Louisville has any name stars on defense, it would probably be safeties Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith. Safeties are hard guys who make tackles but also cover receivers. So they’ve got big chances to snag a pass or come up with a fumble, and thence cover themselves in glory. Lonely cornerbacks, tasked with matching the speed of speedy pass catchers, also have open-field chances, but when they make a mistake … uh-oh. Everybody sees it.

Two years ago, Louisville’s cornerbacks were mostly raw rookies who too often found themselves holding the bag as opposing receivers got clean away. But Coach Charlie Strong issued a simple challenge to his beleaguered backs: “You guys say you’re fast. Go cover somebody.” And over that season and last, the cornerback crew has done just that. Now it’s pretty hard to pass against Louisville.

But not so difficult to run. Many observers feel Louisville’s biggest weakness is stopping runners.

A guy with something to say about improving the run defense is linebacker George Durant, who makes no promises, but notes that experience is also on the side of the run defenders. Plus, recruiting has added some new hands. And where Louisville played things conservatively last season on defense, look for the Cards to take it to opponents more this year.

It’s a team identity, says Durant. “We call ourselves the Red Swarm: red jerseys, all 11 hats to the ball. That’s what we hang our hat on, everybody flying around.”

Which could improve the defenders’ highlight reel selections. Hasn’t been much Red Swarm on TV. “You have to put your head down and work,” says Durant. “It’s not always what you see on TV. But you know it, the coaches know it, the players know it. Everybody that matters.”

 

Ultimately, though, the star of the show is Bridgewater. Now a junior, with a completion percentage that … well, let’s just say when he misses his target, fans suspect he did it on purpose. Bridgewater passed for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns last season — and did it with style. A cerebral presence, with a high-velocity arm. After Louisville grabbed that interception touchdown on the first play of the Sugar Bowl, Bridgewater coolly conducted the rest of the game like a football symphony.

Three years ago, Strong and staff found Bridgewater already a coming star at Miami Northwestern High and launched into a recruiting effort that ultimately lured the quarterback a thousand miles north.

“One of the first things I did when I got to Louisville was study the great quarterbacks they’ve had here,” Bridgewater noted a couple seasons ago. “In the football complex, their pictures are up on the wall and I would walk along and read what it said about them. Think about what they did.”

Bridgewater could earn tremendous fame if he could win the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded by the Downtown Athletic Club, in New York, to college football’s top player. And he will certainly earn big bucks playing pro football. He’s projected as the No. 1 or 2 pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Naturally, all that stuff is in Bridgewater’s mind. Would have to be. As would be an undefeated season, a high national ranking and a bid to a big bowl. But right now, Bridgewater is taking football’s First Amendment, declaring he and his team are “taking it one game at a time.”

Of course that’s what they all say. But Bridgewater is one of those guys who probably means it. He probably does think about one game at a time. In part because he values the games — and maybe sees college football flashing by almost too quickly.

“It happened so fast,” Bridgewater says. “When you’re a freshman, Coach Strong always talks about looking back at the back row. When you’re a freshman, you sit on the back row at team meetings. He just reminds us how fast, how soon we’ll be on the front row as an upperclassman. Time has just gone by so fast.”

On Tuesday, Lorenzo Mauldin was injured in a hit-and-run accident. As of presstime, it’s unclear whether he’ll play Sunday. LEO wishes him the best. 

Nice bLog! its interesting.

By zion1122
Nice bLog! its interesting. the hillford condo

Some truly wonderful

By ronan1122
Some truly wonderful work on behalf of the owner of this internet site , perfectly great articles . https://www.rebelmouse.com/jasonkingfriendsintolovers/

Your content gives readers

By alax5
Your content gives readers things to think about in an interesting way. Thank you for your clear information. https://www.rebelmouse.com/eatdrinkandshrink/

It's nice to see that some

By jimy5500
It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post! by clicking here

Wow, wonderful blog layout!

By ronan1122
Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is fantastic, let alone the content! digital ebook download

I was examining some of

By jazonewil
I was examining some of your articles on this internet site and I conceive this website is real instructive! Keep posting . local lonely women minnesota looking for lonely women, lonely wives caught massachusetts lonely wives stories, athletes lonely wives rhode island young house wives , lonely housewifes new hampshire lonely wifes

that is a good article.

By daxiong22
that is a good article. video converter for Avchd mts, m2ts, mxf, ts video to avi, mpeg-2 conversion software free. ts converter | convert canon video e site afin d’éviter qu’il manque encore. avchd converter camcorder camra video transcode.

Write more, thats all I have

By patterson204
Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read? beachbody training focus t25

It's hard to come by

By Commenterman
It's hard to come by knowledgeable people in this particular subject, but you seem like you know what you're talking about! Thanks Visit here

The first paragraph of this

By rahayu
The first paragraph of this article really caught my attention. NumpangPromo

The information avaiable in

By obat herbal
The information avaiable in this article is 100% true. I am thankful to the author of this article and send him the best wishes. obat herbal kanker hati grosiramazonplus

chandelier ceiling fans

By celen
He probably does cogitate about digit game at a clock. In slice so he weights the games — besides possibly discerns school football flashing by about besides speedily.chandelier ceiling fans

I am so glad to see this.

By celen
I am so glad to see this. Meat definitely needs to be cooked to a certain point. This is not good for you when it is not cooked to this point. Las Vegas Marketing Conference

The post was professionally

By celen
The post was professionally written and I feel like the author has extensive knowledge in this subject. IRS tax relief specialist attorney reviews

Your very own commitment to

By patterson204
Your very own commitment to getting the message throughout came to be rather powerful and have consistently enabled employees just like me to arrive at their desired goals. sash and case windows edinburgh

Floyd had the pill also was

By celen
Floyd had the pill also was running against the purpose area! I didn’t exact comprehend how it happened. Yet we were fit, further it took eccentric from there.porno film

Oh my goodness! an amazing

By nelly90
Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you However I am experiencing issue with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx oris breast cream I’m impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this. forum jual beli Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to get something done. best free blog

The Article is quite

By Jenny Bolton
The Article is quite impressive and thoughts been put up has clearly got something to state. Nice Post! how can you make your boobs bigger

Some truly wonderful

By ashleydanielle
Some truly wonderful work on behalf of the owner of this internet site , perfectly great articles . break up cure

Wonderful illustrated

By ashleydanielle
Wonderful illustrated information. I thank you about that. No doubt it will be very useful for my future projects. Would like to see some other posts on the same subject! Baumpflege

Superbly written article, if

By ashleydanielle
Superbly written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a far better place.. koksijde vastgoed

Thanks for sharing nice

By thscp1122
Thanks for sharing nice information with us. i like your post and all you share with us is uptodate and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job. truth about cellulite

The website is looking bit

By ashleydanielle
The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface. e go zigarette

Hey! Would you mind if I

By patterson204
Hey! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thank you! alior bank forum

This is such a great

By ashleydanielle
This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. 3 credit reports

Planetwin365

By goodboy
I do think it differs a lot my industry and even by item within each industry. We perform in some powerful, information-hungry marketplaces that act absolutely in a different way from more older marketplaces Planetwin365

I’d always want to be

By ashleydanielle
I’d always want to be update on new articles on this web site , saved to favorites ! . watch movies online free iron man 3

Most of the time I don’t

By carter1122
Most of the time I don’t make comments on websites, but I'd like to say that this article really forced me to do so. Really nice post! hotel discount code

Your good knowledge and

By patterson204
Your good knowledge and kindness in playing with all the pieces was very useful. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not encountered such a step like this. Sit down or stand up paddle board

The place else may just I

By Commenterman
The place else may just I get that kind of information written in such an ideal means? I have a venture that I’m just now operating on, and I have been on the look out for such information. Blog

This type of message always

By ashleydanielle
This type of message always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content, so happy to find good place to many here in the post, the writing is just great, thanks for the post. Gartengestaltung

Very interesting to read

By linkking123
Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article. wireless headphones for tv

Write more, thats all I have

By patterson204
Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read? tank tops

It is an educational company

By Commenterman
It is an educational company that collects many disciplines related to economics, finance, business administration, etc. designed and realized by a large group of training professionals in each of the disciplines taught Click here

This is such a great

By ashleydanielle
This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. It is the old what goes around comes around routine. tom brimeyer hypothyroidism revolution

I am hoping the same best

By ashleydanielle
I am hoping the same best effort from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing skills has inspired me. desire system

Nice post. I was checking

By ashleydanielle
Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info specially the last part I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this certain info for a long time. Thank you and good luck. buy text your ex back 2.0

especially blogging and

By Commenterman
especially blogging and citizen journalism. With convention delegates and the media armed with iPhones and using Instagram, Twitter, YouTube & Facebook this has election is more connected & real-time than any that has come before hot babes

This is highly informatics,

By carter1122
This is highly informatics, crisp and clear. I think that everything has been described in systematic manner so that reader could get maximum information and learn many things. at home treatment for nasal polyps

Thanks for sharing the

By ashleydanielle
Thanks for sharing the post.. parents are worlds best person in each lives of individual..they need or must succeed to sustain needs of the family. https://www.rebelmouse.com/oldschoolnewbodyreviewf4x/

The website is looking bit

By ashleydanielle
The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface. taxi lech

Thank you a lot for

By patterson204
Thank you a lot for providing individuals with a very spectacular possibility to read critical reviews from this site. oriental rug cleaning

A reliable blog always

By albinamuro2
A reliable blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading` I have experience that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a good one.. how to invest in gold

Excellent information on

By jimy5500
Excellent information on your blog, thank you for taking the time to share with us. http://usdruglawsuit.com/

I love what youve got here,

By leesa
I love what youve got here, love what youre saying and the way you say it. You make it entertaining and you still manage to keep it smart. Softy maker manufacturer

I think that thanks for the

By thscp1122
I think that thanks for the valuabe information and insights you have so provided here. photographe mariage toulouse

It reveals how nicely you

By tbhgu
It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched all over the place and simply couldn't come across. What a perfect web-site. lift weights faster by jen sinkler download

I’d always want to be

By ashleydanielle
I’d always want to be update on new articles on this web site , saved to favorites ! . article

I would like to thank you

By jamherry123
I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. seo backlinks

I will make sure to be

By jimy5500
I will make sure to be reading your blog more. You made a good point but I can't help but wonder, what about the other side? THANKS! http://benicarlawsuitlawyer.com/