Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bridgewater turns focus to USF Bulls

For as long as Todd Chandler has known Teddy Bridgewater, the latter always has worn a glove on his passing hand.

"To see a quarterback come in and wear gloves, it was kind of weird," said Chandler, reared roughly 10 minutes from his old Northwestern High teammate in the bleak Miami neighborhood of Liberty City. "But he was doing his job."

Today, that glove is complemented by other distinct accessories, namely poise and unflappability. Bridgewater — Louisville's fringe Heisman candidate, future NFL employee and pro-style passer extraordinaire — never leaves the huddle without them.

But Chandler, now a USF defensive tackle, recalls when he did. He still can see Bridgewater breaking down. Teddy B wasn't always indomitable. To the contrary, he was inconsolable.

A mom's breast cancer diagnosis can do that.

"He'd just break down and start crying," Chandler recalled. "You could see it in practice; it was affecting him, it was affecting his play. And I remember some days, I'd go over and talk to him like, 'Man, it's going to be all right. Just pray, just keep your mind on God.' "

Rose Murphy, a former public school bus driver who raised Teddy and three other kids, ultimately beat cancer. And a dynamic blossomed in the younger of her two boys: As radiation surged through her body, resolve was forged in Teddy's psyche.

Today, hullabaloo mounts over how Louisville (6-1 overall, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) will respond after having its national title hopes dashed Friday by UCF.

Further, a world wonders about the potential distraction surrounding Cardinals assistant Clint Hurtt, who received and provided impermissible benefits while at Miami, according to the NCAA's ruling released Tuesday. Louisville said Hurtt will remain on the staff.

Will the Cardinals regroup or regress Saturday against USF? Will they come out flat or fired up? Chandler, for one, scoffs at the question. He knows one defeat isn't about to dispirit 20-year-old Theodore Bridgewater.

"The situation and the events that he was going through in high school, I know it built him as a man," Chandler said. "It put a drive in him that I felt like nobody can take away."

Translation: The Bulls (2-4, 2-0) will get an inspired Bridgewater at Raymond James Stadium. The Cardinals might be a bit disoriented, but their QB won't let them fall into disarray.

"Coach (Shawn) Watson (Louisville's offensive coordinator) always tells us the quarterback has to be the eye of the hurricane," Bridgewater said at the league media days this summer. "The smoothest and the calmest person on the field."

Bridgewater has 2,213 passing yards, 20 TDs, two interceptions and a 72 percent completion rate (154-for-214). Fourteen times, he has connected with nine receivers in a game. Four times, he has hit 10. In a loss in November at Syracuse, he found 11.

"One thing you know about him is, you just see he knows their system," Bulls offensive coordinator Walt Wells said. "There are times the clock's running down and he's just as calm as he can be. He gets the snap off and takes it where it needs to go."

Bulls coach Willie Taggart, who once had a daily front-row view of a young Andrew Luck while coaching running backs at Stanford, said Bridgewater reminds him of the Indianapolis Colts' franchise QB.

"I remember last year when I was at (Western Kentucky) and we played (Kentucky) and Louisville played them the week before, just calling (Cardinals) Coach (Charlie) Strong and being like, 'Man, you've got a special kid there, boy,' " Taggart said.

"Just very smart, can run the entire offense, can get their guys in and out of good and bad plays, and throws the deep ball very well. He's the real deal."

At the dawn of his freshman season, Bridgewater grew dejected over the stress fracture in his right index finger that limited his reps. Ultimately, Strong named Will Stein the starter entering 2011.

"It was hard having to take that setback, and I didn't really know how to handle it," Bridgewater said. "It was so far away from home. I didn't have my mom, I didn't have my family, and all I had was football."

Which is to say, the first semblance of college adversity ate at his fortitude. Like a cancer.

Fortunately for him, there was a survivor on his side. Rose's message, as recounted to "If I hadn't gone through that and fought, I wouldn't be here to see you. If I fought, you are going to do the same thing. You never know what your outcome is going to be."

Three games into 2011, Bridgewater was summoned when Stein got hurt against Kentucky. He led the Cardinals to a 24-17 triumph.

He has been starting since. More than 8,000 passing yards, 20 victories and one Sugar Bowl MVP performance later, stability and steeliness befit him.

Like a glove.

"You can hit him in his mouth and he's going to get right back up," Taggart said. "That's demoralizing to a defense, when you can hit him and he'll get back up and make another play.

"He's unbelievable."

Bulls chat

Chat live with USF beat reporter Joey Knight from noon to 1 p.m. today at

Bowden at FSU game

The former FSU coach will finally attend a home game Saturday. 2C

Bridgewater turns focus to USF Bulls 10/22/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 10:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose


    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  2. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  3. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”