Next In Line: Replacing Teddy Bridgewater
By Mike Crocker
It's time for another edition of "Next In Line," where we deliberate not on where the next group of NFL Draft prospects will be taken, but who will fill their shoes back at their respective colleges and universities.
This week we focus on one of the most highly-touted quarterbacks in this year's draft, Mr. Teddy Bridgewater. His 3,970 yards and 31 passing touchdowns compared to only four interceptions were enough to get Louisville to the Russell Athletic Bowl, where the Cardinals routed the Miami Hurricanes by a score of 36-9. Despite those numbers, sports analysts kept their praise slightly muted due to the expectation of more from Bridgewater and Louisville for the 2013-14 season. However, now that he has declared for the NFL Draft, many analysts say that he has a good chance of being selected within the Top 10 picks due to an abundance of teams needing a quarterback within that range.
While we do not know what team will take Bridgewater, we do know a quarterback who is making the right strides to take Bridgewater's old job as starting quarterback of the Louisville Cardinals.
Enter: Will Gardner
A redshirt sophomore, Gardner has completed 5 of 8 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns and recovered from two ACL surgeries (one during his high school senior season, and the other during his first redshirt year on campus). On paper that does not look very promising for a potential starting quarterback, but there are many other aspects to consider.
Not only is Gardner's health perfectly fine (as far as we know), but during Louisville's strength and conditioning drills he has shown what head coach Bobby Petrino is looking for in a quarterback. His scouting report will tell you that Gardner possess good pocket presence, ideal size and a quick release, but not everything can be perfect. Petrino and his staff have pointed out some aspects of Gardner's game that need help if he starts the home opener on September 1, 2014, against the University of Miami Hurricanes.
"He has to make better decisions, distribute the ball better, [and] be more accurate on his passing..." Petrino said, adding he liked how Gardner was "coachable," and that he "likes his understanding of the game of football, and can make all of the throws that they need him to make."
Whomever assumes the role of starting quarterback for Louisville will have to live up to the standards set by Teddy Bridgewater and the entire Cardinals team with their recent elevation of football success.
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