LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Teddy Bridgewater can throw the ball all over the field and celebrate with fans in the stands. There's still some things the Louisville quarterback can't do.
Waving the punt team off the field is one.
Bridgewater tried just that late in the first half against Eastern Kentucky on fourth-and-2, and coach Charlie Strong made it clear the junior doesn't have that authority no matter how highly ranked the Cardinals might be or how much a Heisman Trophy candidate his quarterback might be.
"We have enough coaches on staff," Strong said he told Bridgewater when ordering him to the sideline.
Bridgewater turned in another strong performance, throwing for 397 yards and four touchdowns in the seventh-ranked Cardinals' 44-7 win over Eastern Kentucky on Saturday. He completed passes to eight different Cardinals for a second straight game and threw TDs to three different players.
But Bridgewater sounded frustrated by a lack of production in the run game and graded himself as only average completing 23 of 32 passes.
"Everyone may see 397 yards ..., but what I see is the less than 100 yards rushing," Bridgewater said. "I build my success around complete offense and total offense. I may have thrown for 397 yards, but there are some things I'm going to have to work on ... My check game, getting better looks for the running backs. I'm going to watch the film and evaluate."
Louisville ran the ball pretty well in the season opening win over Ohio, showing plenty of balance behind Perry, Brown and former Auburn running back Michael Dyer. The Cardinals totaled 199 yards in that game.
Against FCS-level Eastern Kentucky, the Cardinals (2-0) ran the ball 28 times for 78 yards, averaging 2.8 yards per carry. Senorise Perry scored on a 5-yard touchdown run, and both he and Dominique Brown had an 8-yard run apiece. They just couldn't get first downs when needed with Bridgewater helping pick up 15 of the 20 first downs through the air.
Strong said the Cardinals didn't stay on their blocks longer.
"We have to create the seams, and we didn't create the seams," Strong said.
The Cardinals now have to try to improve before visiting in-state rival Kentucky, a game that offers Louisville its lone opportunity at a win over a Southeastern Conference team no matter how the Wildcats are struggling under first-year coach Mark Stoops.
"It should be a fun experience," senior linebacker Preston Brown said of playing in Lexington. "My last time in this rivalry, hopefully, we will get out with a win next week."
Bridgewater said he has no idea how Kentucky is looking right now. Still, this is a rivalry with lots of passion between schools that really can't stand each other, and Bridgewater expects Cardinals' fans to put plenty of red into Commonwealth Stadium.
"We've got a lot of bragging rights on the line," Bridgewater said.
The junior quarterback, who inspired a T-shirt worn by at least one fan against Eastern Kentucky that simply said "Teddy Heisman," also explained what happened when he called off the punt team with less than 2 minutes left in the first half. He said it was a little confusing because of the no-huddle tempo.
"The offensive line was already at the line waiting for the ball to be snapped when the punt team ran on the field," Bridgewater said. "So I was just thinking I know we run the play and get the first down. Coach is a genius, and he calls the plays and he wanted to punt."
Strong was asked if Bridgewater is just so comfortable with the keys to the Louisville offense he wanted to keep going. Strong said sometimes keys have to be taken away from kids.
"That was one time we had to take them," Strong said.
AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org/