Sept. 18, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and about 21 of his teammates are headed home for the first time as members of the University of Louisville football team on Saturday, when the Cardinals face FIU at 7 p.m.
So, for a lot of the Cardinals, they are headed home to the point where they are just minutes away from their families. However, head coach Charlie Strong has instilled into his team that this is a business trip and he will make sure the players know why they are headed to the Sunshine State.
"What's going to be positive is their families are going to be there, so at least we feel like we're going to have a little crowd because of time he number of players we have from south Florida," said Strong at his Monday press conference. "But, one of the issues can be is that they are all going to want to see them and be around them. I have some time blocked out for them to see their families, but this is a business trip. We can't have that pleasure. When you have the time to go visit with them, then go visit with them. Still though, we've got to get on with our business too."
Bridgewater, who played at Northwestern with five other Cardinals, agreed with his third-year coach.
"We don't want to let any outside distractions get in the way," said Bridgewater. "Even though it's our family, our main goal is to win our next football game."
The Cardinals know they are in for a major test after losing to the Panthers last year at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals dropped a tough 24-17 decision despite gaining 446 yards of total offense.
"I remember seeing a team that came here and sucked the breath out of us," said Bridgewater, who didn't play in the game last year. "They defeated us on our home turf and it's something that we want revenge on, but they are a team that plays with a lot of energy."
The 2012 Cardinals are not the same team, especially on offense. Louisville is clicking on all cylinders after scoring over 30 points in the first three contests, and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson knows his young quarterback must use all of his weapons.
"Teddy uses all five weapons," said Watson. "The way we are built, we attack coverage. If there is something in a specific type of coverage, he can work one side of the field or the other. He is using everything right now. This was his best game in terms of decisions."
The Cardinals do have a ton of weapons in the passing game, as seven players have seven catches or more, and Louisville boasts two rushers in the top 50 in the country. But the biggest thing has been how consistent Bridgewater has been in the first three games.
"He was rock-solid in his decision-making," said Watson of Bridgewater's performance against the Tar Heels. "He didn't make many mistakes. He actually had two burnt passes and two dropped passes in his incompletions, so if you do the quick math, he had a really good day. He had two incomplete passes."
The Cardinals will have to continue to be solid on offense if they are going to avenge last season's loss and move to 4-0 for the first time since 2006.