Comparing Teddy Bridgewater's insane start to Robert Griffin III's and Geno Smith's

Andy Lyons

Teddy Bridgewater's fast start has made him the Heisman favorite and boosted his NFL Draft stock even higher, but how does it compare to the last two really, really hot starts by elite college quarterbacks?

The story of the young season for Louisville (other than the schedule-strength thing) has been the invincibility of their star quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. He was a recruiting coup for Charlie Strong in 2011, as the head coach grabbed the four-star prospect from Northwestern (Fla.) High School out of the clutches of in-state powers Florida and Miami.

Bridgewater played right away, throwing for over 2,000 yards as a true freshman in 2011, with 14 touchdowns against 12 interceptions, as the Cardinals struggled to a 7-6 record. As a sophomore in 2012, things started to click. Bridgewater threw for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns, ranking in the top 20 in the nation in passing yardage, and Louisville ended up 11-2 with a Sugar Bowl win over Florida.

This year, there are many words to describe Bridgewater's performance, but one seems to come up over and over again: unstoppable. He is the new Heisman favorite, even after apparently asking the school not to put on an official campaign for him.

In the opener against Ohio, the quarterback had as many touchdowns as he had incompletions -- five -- and averaged 12.7 yards per attempt. In the follow-up against Eastern Kentucky, Bridgewater threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns and averaged 12.4 yards per attempt.

His two-week stretch is so good, in fact, that it recalls similar dominant early periods from quarterbacks who are currently starters for NFL teams. All stats are through two games:

Name School Completions Attempts Completion Percentage Yards Yards Per Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions
Robert Griffin III ('11) Baylor 40 48 83.33% 624 13 8 0
Geno Smith ('12) West Virginia 66 75 88% 734 9.79 9 0
Teddy Bridgewater ('13) Louisville 46 60 76.67% 752 12.53 9 1

Bridgewater appears closer to the Griffin model than Smith, who played in an offense heavy on short passes and yards after the catch. That's good news for Louisville -- Griffin continued his strong start and won a Heisman, while Smith tailed off as 2012 went on.

While he has the lowest completion percentage of the three, Bridgewater's yards per attempt are significantly higher than Smith's, while not quite on Griffin's level. Bridgewater does have more touchdowns than the former Baylor quarterback, but he is the only one in the group to have thrown an interception in the two-game stretch. The pick came on a pass over the middle in the second quarter of the Ohio game, as Xavier Hughes stepped in front of the Bridgewater pass for the easy turnover.

Smith and Griffin went on widely different paths for the remainder of their seasons. The former Mountaineer had 13 incompletions and averaged under eight yards per attempt in his next game, against Maryland, and had an awful four-game stretch in Big 12 play from mid-October to mid-November, when he completed 60.5 percent of his passes for just 5.3 yards per attempt. West Virginia ended 7-6 after starting 5-0, and Smith slipped into the second round of the NFL Draft.

Griffin, meanwhile, seemingly never slowed down, throwing for at least nine yards per attempt in 10 of his 13 games, and completing at least 70 percent of his passes in eight of them. In Baylor's third game of the season, Griffin had his second-straight game with more touchdowns than incompletions, as he went 29/33 with five touchdowns against RIce. He went on to be picked No. 2 overall.

With Louisville's schedule, it's easy to see Bridgewater coming close to Griffin's continued level of excellence. Of the 10 teams left for Louisville to play, only two have managed to emerge from their first two games without a loss -- UCF and Houston. Both of those contests, naturally, are home games for the Cardinals.

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