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West Virginia plans for another freshman QB

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By Josh Sickles
Friday, Nov. 4, 2011
 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It's becoming more and more common for true freshmen to contribute in college football, but even West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel hasn't seen what his defense will face Saturday.

For the third time this season, the Mountaineers will try to slow a true freshman quarterback Saturday, when they meet Louisville, led by Teddy Bridgewater.

"Not that I remember," said Casteel, who's in his 26th year of coaching. "Three new quarterbacks maybe, but three true freshman, I don't remember that."

Joked senior defensive end Bruce Irvin: "Obviously, upperclassmen aren't getting it done. They're depending on true freshmen getting it done."

The Mountaineers faced Marshall's Rakeem Cato in the season opener. Cato was efficient, completing 15 of 21 passes for 115 yards with no turnovers. But the Marshall offense only had nine first downs and mustered just two field goals in the storm-shortened game.

Last week at Rutgers, the defense faced Gary Nova, who took over as the full-time starter in the fifth game. Nova was 18 of 46 for 235 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. He also lost two fumbles, but some of that can be attributed to snowy conditions.

Bridgewater will be a different story.

"I think Teddy Bridgewater might be the best true freshman we face this year," Irvin said. "Cato was pretty good, but Teddy Bridgewater could play at a lot of Division I schools right now."

Bridgewater, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder from Miami, has played in all eight games for Louisville and started the past five. He has completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 1,029 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

He's also a running threat. His stats aren't the best — since sacks count against rushing, he's averaging less than a yard per carry — but he has the athleticism to hurt a defense with his legs.

"The biggest thing is his feet, not only just scrambling for yards but scrambling to get a (receiver) open," sophomore linebacker Doug Rigg said. "We have to put him on the ground."

He's still a freshman, but that title can be thrown out at this point of the season. Even Casteel admitted he would have preferred to face Bridgewater earlier in the year.

"Trying to play major college football is a big jump for a true freshman," he said. "And playing quarterback might be the toughest job there is. He's handled it really well."

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