Pitt Football: Defense has another QB test
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater pulls away from Southern Miss linebacker Terrick Wright in a game No. 19 Louisville won, 21-17.
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Last week, Pitt's defense essentially shut down the Big East's leading passer, Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib. The task ahead Saturday won't be any easier.
The Panthers defense will be charged with stopping Louisville sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who may be the Big East's most dynamic quarterback.
"I was impressed with him last year, even as a freshman," safety Andrew Taglianetti said.
"He made good decisions, he's athletic, he gets the ball where it needs to be."
Bridgewater ranks second in the Big East in passing efficiency, behind Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri.
Over the past three games, Pitt has shut down two highly regarded quarterbacks.
The Panthers limited Nassib to 19 of 30 attempts for 185 yards, and three weeks earlier had three interceptions against Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas.
Bridgewater has completed 73 percent of his passes for 1,134 yards, 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
"I think he's tough and can hurt you in a couple different ways," Pitt coach Paul Chryst said.
"It sure seems like he has command of the offense. I think a quarterback that is talented, looks like he plays with confidence and knows his players around him, that makes for a pretty good combination."
Bridgewater has been adept at spreading the ball around. The Cardinals have three receivers with more than 10 catches on the season, and seven players have at least one touchdown reception.
In addition to his passing ability, Bridgewater can also hurt teams with his ability to run if a play breaks down.
Pitt defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable said a defense can make some schematic adjustments to keep Bridgewater from breaking loose -- such as assigning a spy rusher.
The first step, though, is stressing to the defensive lineman that they have to be aware of Bridgewater's running threat.
"When he's back there passing, our defensive line has to do a great job of being disciplined in their pass rush lanes and keep him bottled up because he can hurt you with his feet as well." Huxtable said.
"Anytime he's back as a passer and you have good coverage, he's not afraid to take it and run with it."
NOTE -- Chryst said the three players who left the Syracuse game early -- tight end Hubie Graham, cornerback K'Waun Williams and linebacker Manny Williams -- were questionable for this week's game. "I feel better right now, but we'll know on game day I think," Chryst said. ... Running back Rushel Shell, who had one carry in the Syracuse game, is expected to return after missing a good chunk of last week with back spasms.
• Game: Pitt (2-3) vs. Louisville (5-0), Heinz Field.
• When: 11 a.m. Saturday.
• TV: ESPNU.
First Published October 12, 2012 12:00 am