The general consensus is that Teddy Bridgewater will carry-over his BCS Bowl success (to be fair: Bridgewater had a nice game – but not a miraculous one – against an unfocused Florida team: 20/32 passing, 266 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) into the 2013 season and contend for a Heisman Trophy. He has a lot of talent back and an easy schedule. He should be a favorite.
The Heisman odds from Bovada seem to think that’s a real possibility. Bridgewater trails only Johnny Manziel, Braxton Miller and A.J. McCarron in early listings.
I don’t think he will be invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony.
I will quickly concede that Louisville lost very little talent. And it is always good for a QB to have moving parts that he is comfortable with. As far as offensive skill positions go, only eight players who registered yards in 2012 are gone. The quick summary of their production:
- RB Jeremy Wright: 824 yards rushing, 325 yards receiving, 11 total TDs
- WR Andrell Smith: 536 yards receiving, 3 TDs
- WR Scott Radcliff: 162 yards receiving
- TE Nate Nord: 122 yards receiving, 1 TD
- QB Will Stein: 131 yards passing, 8 yards rushing
- FB Nick Heuser: 57 yards rushing, 2 TDs
- TE Chris White: 5 yards receiving
- WR Kai Dominguez: 1 yard receiving
Within the context of Louisville’s offense, the Cardinals are losing 55.7% of their rushing yards and 52% of their rushing TDs. Within the passing game the Cardinals are losing 29.9% of their receiving yards and just 18.5% of their receiving TDs.
In totality: Teddy Bridgewater returns 62.5% of his offensive fire-power (as measured by yards rushing and receiving) and 66% of his scoring.
So, Louisville certainly returns a healthy portion of its offensive weapons. There is one problem, though. Louisville’s offense was very mediocre in 2012.
- Ranked 51st in the nation in yards per game.
- Ranked 51st in points per game.
Sure, Bridgewater showed promise, but this offense was middling at best. And the offense was often hampered by a poor running game.
Bridgewater’s 8.9 yards per pass attempt ranked seventh in the country and fifth among BCS Conference passers. However, Louisville’s running game ranked 106th in the nation in yards per attempt. Louisville converted 173 first downs through the air (the 18th best total in the country), but the Cardinals running game converted just 106 (the 65th best total).
It is a given that different teams have differing styles of play. And those poor rushing totals could be overlooked if Louisville had a truly pass-happy offense, but the Cardinals don’t. Bridgewater was 31st in the nation in pass attempts in 2012 with 419. The top decile of the country in pass attempts averaged over 523 passes.
And again, Louisville’s point totals certainly aren’t in-line with a pass-happy offense. The top decile of “pass-happy” offenses averaged 35.5 points per game. That would individually rank 24th in the nation in scoring. Again, Louisville ranked 51st in the nation.
Forget the Numbers
I’ve been spitting entirely too much math your way, so let me use my words for a moment as I think they might put some actual context into those stats.
Teddy Bridgewater is a great quarterback. He has a most of his weapons back from last year, unfortunately last year’s offense was very average. In my opinion Bridgewater – and the offense as a whole – was limited by a poor running game.
For him to garner serious Heisman consideration he needs to put up flashier numbers (for you Georgia fans out there, Aaron Murray threw for about 175 more yards and 9 more TDs against much better defenses in 2012 despite throwing 33 fewer passes) and the offense needs to be better. The key to the offense improving falls squarely on the running game.
The running game was terrible last year. Louisville lost two starters on the offensive line. And, Louisville lost their leading rusher (Jeremy Wright). Combine that with they fact that the team’s second-leading rusher (and to be fair, the team’s best rusher), Senorise Perry, was lost for the season in November with a torn ACL and there is a lot of uncertainty in the running game. Dominique Brown will be back from his injury, but I don’t know that depending on a player who last played on December 27, 2011 and has just 140 career carries is all that comforting either.
Ultimately I don’t think Louisville’s offense will improve enough to get Bridgewater to New York for the Heisman Trophy Ceremony.
That’s all I got/