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Bridgewater Embraces Nickname, Louisville Sits as Top Conference Contender

Every good athlete also has a good nickname and last year, Texas A&M’s quarterback Johnny Manziel embraced his, Johnny Football. This year, Louisville’s Heisman-contending quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has an old but new one as well: Gump.

Yes, as in Forrest Gump.

This goes back to Bridgewater’s high school days from Miami Northwestern. He shared the name with his backup quarterback, E.J. Hilliard with Bridgewater explaining via the Courier-Journal, “He used to always tell jokes and everything and all of his jokes were related to the movie Forrest Gump, so everyone would call him ‘Gump.”

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

You can’t help but think of why this wouldn’t be a compliment to Hilliard until Bridgewater added, “On the field, we just started calling each other Gump. Then we came up with the meaning for it.”

The meaning is Great Under Major Pressure.

For Hilliard, he’s gone on to FIU as their backup quarterback and we all know how Bridgewater’s story is going. But will it get better?

On Sunday, Sept. 1, his team, the Cardinals, will open the season against Ohio. Expectations are high for them, especially with Bridgewater. He sits with 9/1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy and is -500 to lead the conference in passing yards and in passing touchdowns.

This week, the player received a nice compliment from NFL Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells. The question had been posed to Parcells on whether Bridgewater could win this year’s Heisman.

He said via the Courier-Journal, “I’ve seen him play several times. I have to tell you, I’m quite impressed with him. But those awards, as a coach, don’t mean too much to me. I’d be asking if Teddy Bridgewater could lead his team to a real good season. And the answer to that question is, I think he’s very capable of doing that.”

Nice endorsement but having a good season will also help Bridgewater’s case for the Heisman and the Cardinals enter the preseason as the AAC favorites.

With the dismantling of the Big East conference, it morphed into the AAC and Louisville will face new teams including Houston, UCF, Memphis and SMU along with the usual competition against Connecticut, Rutgers and Cincinnati.

Can any of them beat Louisville or will the Cardinals take a full sweep of conference play?

USA Today gave this forecast:

Louisville – 11-1, 7-1
Rutgers – 8-4, 6-2
UCF – 8-4, 6-2
Cincinnati – 7-5, 5-3
Houston – 7-5, 5-3
USF– 6-6, 4-4
SMU – 4-8, 3-5
Temple – 4-8, 2-6
Connecticut – 4-8, 2-6
Memphis -3-9, 1-7

Where does Lousiville’s one loss come from? A look at the Cardinals schedule has them playing Rutgers on Oct. 10 and Cincinnati, the second place team from last year, on Dec. 5. This outcome could affect postseason play.

Louisville will bring a chock full of offensive talent this year but keep an eye on these AAC players:

Blake Bortles

Blake Bortles

  • WR Brandon Coleman, Sr. Rutgers: This 6’6″ receiver is tops for the conference and needs just four touchdowns to break Rutgers receiving touchdowns record.
  • QB Blake Bortles, Jr. UCF: In 2012, he had 3,059 passing yards and 25 touchdowns while also running for 285 yards and eight scores. He was named the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl MVP with his four touchdowns in the 38-17 victory over Ball State. Louisville plays them on Oct. 18. Could UCF pull off an upset?
  • QB David Piland, Jr., Houston: In his 10 2012 starts, he had 300 passing yards or greater in five games. Against Louisiana Tech, he threw for 580 yards. He should improve a lot this year.
  • DE Marcus Smith, Sr., Louisville: From the last two seasons, this defensive end had 10.5 sacks and a notable performance in last year’s Sugar Bowl. Expect more great play this season.
  •  DE Aaron Lynch, So., USF: A top defensive end when he left high school in 2011, he sat out last season after transferring from Notre Dame but he’s ready for his USF debut. In his six games for the Irish as a starter in 2011, he had 5.5 sacks and received a freshman All-American nod.


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