Dec. 8, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - -
For the third time in four years, a member of the University of Louisville football team collect BIG EAST Newcomer of the Year honors, as freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Miami, Fla.) was a unanimous selection for the award, league officials announced Thursday.
In total, three Cardinals earned all-conference honors.
Bridgewater guided the Cardinals to the program's second BIG EAST title and a trip to its 16th bowl game. Bridgewater is the second-straight player to win this award, as safety Hakeem Smith earned the honor as a red-shirt freshman in 2010. Senior running back Victor Anderson took home the award in 2008.
Bridgewater, who took over as the starter on Oct. 1, compiled a 5-4 record as a starter and was one of the keys to the offense's overall improvement.
The first true freshman to start for the Cardinals at quarterback since 1976,
Bridgewater threw for 1,855 yards, surpassing Chris Redman's freshman passing yardage record, and 12 touchdowns this year. He completed an efficient 66.0 percent of his throws, connecting on 167 of his 253 passes.
In the title-clinching win over South Florida, Bridgewater threw for 241 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in a 34-24 win over the Bulls. He passed for a career-best 246 yards in a 38-35 win over nationally ranked West Virginia. He also relieved Will Stein in a 24-17 win over Kentucky, going 10-of-18 for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior cornerback Adrian Bushell (DeSoto, Texas) was a first team All-BIG EAST selection after recording 43 tackles and one interception. He made one of the biggest plays of the year, when he blocked a field goal and Andrew Johnson scooped it up and scored in the win over West Virginia.
Smith had another stellar year at safety for the Cardinals to also earn first-team accolades. The team leader in tackles a year ago, Smith is tied for second on the team with 81 stops. He leads the team with nine pass breakups and also recorded three forced fumbles. Smith turned up his performance in league play, averaging 7.6 tackles per game, including double-digit tackle totals in three of the last four games.
Senior linebacker Dexter Heyman (Louisville, Ky.) was named to the All-BIG EAST second team on defense. The team's leading tackler, Heyman started all 12 games at middle linebacker for the Cardinals. Heyman recorded 83 tackles and a team-best 15.5 tackles for loss, which ranks third in the BIG EAST. A product of Male High School, Heyman also recorded a team-high three interceptions.
The Cardinals close out the 2011 season with their 11th bowl in 14 seasons on Dec. 27 in the Belk Bowl vs. NC State. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m., with live coverage on ESPN from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.