Midseason report: Louisville


Record: 6-0, 1-0 Big East

The Big East preseason favorite received quarterback play as good as any in the country through its first three games, barely avoided a dramatic collapse to an ACC school, narrowly escaped what would have been one of the season's biggest upsets, and has dealt with the national perception that their beloved head coach will inevitably be courted upon season's end.

And, oh yeah, Louisville still has not lost a game.

Reigning Big East freshman of the year Teddy Bridgewater has come back down to earth a little bit after an amazing start, but remains the best signal caller in the conference. Running back Senorise Perry has been slowly making his case for similar praise. Coach Charlie Strong, meanwhile, has turned the culture of the program around in his third season, and the Arkansas native simply cannot avoid the questions that have come (and will likely keep coming) until the biggest program in his home state makes a new coaching hire.

Until then, it's been one close call after another against UNC (whom the Cardinals nearly blew a 29-point second-half lead against), FIU and Southern Miss (a late touchdown decided a contest played in awful conditions). Louisville finally put it all together late in a shootout win against Pitt this past weekend, and it will look to keep the ball rolling with nothing but Big East games remaining on the schedule.

Defensive improvements are needed on a unit that has been just average so far. The Cardinals are tied with Pitt for last in the conference in sacks with just 10 on the season, and they are middle of the pack in virtually every other category. They have recorded just two interceptions this season, too.

It's important to remember that this is a young team, and Strong did wonders last season in turning a 2-4 start into a share of the conference crown. He has made a point of saying that this team now wins games by seven that it would have lost by seven in years past, and, despite the close calls, Louisville has overcome every challenge it has faced so far, be it self-inflicted or not.

At No. 16 in the BCS, the Cardinals are one spot behind Rutgers, and they are one of three unbeaten teams in the Big East. With four of its next five games at home, there is no reason to think this team cannot be playing for a Big East title when it enters Piscataway for its Nov. 29 finale.

Offensive MVP: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He's our Big East offensive player of the year so far, and the numbers back it up. The sophomore has completed nearly 72 percent of his passes for 1,438 yards, with nine touchdowns and just three interceptions. His first three games were as good as any quarterback's in the country, as he completed 81.8 of his throws for 855 yards and five touchdowns, without throwing a pick.

Defensive MVP: Safety Calvin Pryor. The sophomore's penchant for the big play gives him the edge on this unit, as Pryor has forced four fumbles and recorded an interception while leading the team in tackles with 46, 14 more than anyone else on the roster.