Former UConn defensive tackle and SNY studio analyst Sean Mulcahy previews UConn vs. Louisville.
In the Spotlight: Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
The skinny: Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has passed for over 2,800 yards and 21 touchdowns this season while completing more than 70 percent of his passes.
Mulcahy’s take:I had a chance to speak with my Uncle Dr. Ray Shea over Thanksgiving, he is the head orthopedist for the Louisville Cardinals football team. We spoke for about 10 minutes on what makes Bridgewater so good and the attributes are the same in any great quarterback. Teddy is very accurate and is completing over 70 percent of his passes. He is extremely poised, doesn’t let too much bother him. He is clearly tall enough at 6-foot-5 and has a great arm. Even Coach Pasqualoni acknowledged how smart he is with his decisions in the pocket. “He slides very well in the pocket and uses his check downs very well, the backs Sinorice Perry and Jeremy Wright catch a lot of balls,” Pasqualoni said. Bridgewater excels at making the right decision and does not get too greedy looking for the home run ball or locking on to one receiver the whole game. He constantly scans the field to find the right receiver that puts the offense in the best position possible. When we first saw Bridgewater as a freshman he impressed all of us at SNY and I’m sure everyone across the country. Then we asked, how did Louisville get this stud quarterback? He actually committed to the University of Miami and de-committed once he spoke to his high school teammate who had taken a scholarship to Louisville.
In Focus: UConn defensive tackle Ryan Wirth
The skinny: UConn defensive tackle Ryan Wirth has become a rock for the Huskies and has 39 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. Wirth’s play on the line has allowed the Huskies to be rated as the No. 9 defense in the country.
Mulcahy’s take: Defensive line coach Hank Hughes and I love talking about defensive lineman and he is very lucky to have Ryan Wirth this year stepping up to play a way a senior should. Wirth knows this is his last shot at playing for the Huskies and the Medford, N.J. native has stepped up his play when UConn needed him most with the injuries to Teddy Jennings and Jesse Joseph. Wirth saw the challenge ahead for the defensive line and knew someone needed to fill the shoes of the departed Kendall Reyes and Twyon Martin. Wirth is naturally athletic for a defensive tackle at 6-foot-3 275-pounds, but he has played a very solid defensive end this year at times too. He is second on the defensive line in sacks this year behind Trevardo Williams, something not too many people would have guessed in the preseason. When you see Wirth up close in person, he doesn’t look 275-pounds. He has little fat and the shape he keeps himself in has led to more playing time. Pro scouts will like his ability to play inside & out (DE & DT) and the high motor. The young man needs to bring his captain-like leadership this week against the Cards and the following weeks against Cincinnati.
LB Sio Moore vs. QB Teddy Bridgwater
Mulcahy’s take: Can the quarterback of the defense stop the quarterback of the offense? Lets hope so. Moore played his tail off against Pitt, so he needs to come out and read Bridgewater right off the bat. Moore has to watch his eyes and notice tendencies from film study; look at the backs; notice personnel and key substitutions; rush the passer hard when blitzing and watch the ball fake or play-action pass. Bridgewater is very good at deceiving defenders with his ball skills. Moore will most likely have to cover runing backs Sinorice Perry or Jeremy Wright in the flat on pass coverage when he is not blitzing. Bridgewater loves to check down to them and maintain the drive to stay on the field and exhaust the defense. The less time Bridgewater is on the field the better.
Mulcahy’s take: This whole unit needs to feed off their victory and good performance against Pitt two weeks ago. The line were mauling players throughout the whole game. I really enjoyed watching Kevin Friend, Jimmy Bennett, and Gus Cruz pushing opponents through the whistle. Defensive players hate that and it gets in their head. The Mastodons upfront must maintain leverage to give Chandler Whitmer time to throw and holes for Lyle McCombs to run through. Offensive line coach George DeLeone has done a nice job taking Tyler Bullock and molding him into the starter while not limiting Alex Mateas too much. The rotation is starting to pay off with Cruz since the Huskies lost their best lineman in Adam Masters. The unit needs to keep grinding and always remember it starts upfront.