It’s probably not very smart of me to admit this, but when Will Stein entered the game at the start of the fourth quarter on Sunday against Kentucky, I wasn’t exactly excited. Anyone who knows me knows I’m as big of a Will Stein fan as there is. However, I initially didn’t agree with pulling Teddy Bridgewater at the end of third quarter.
After a couple of days to think about it, my position on the situation hasn’t much changed, but overall the decision was probably a smart one.
I made it pretty clear last week that I thought Louisville not only needed to beat Kentucky, but they needed to blow them out and make a statement. Winning by 18 points and covering the spread is a statement, but anyone who watched the game should know that Louisville would have scored more than 50 points had Teddy Bridgewater played a few more series on Sunday.
Charlie Strong and Teddy Bridgewater both told the media after the game that Stein was put in to avoid a potential Teddy Bridgewater injury. While I do believe that definitely has some truth to it, I think it had more to do with showing some respect to Stein. This was the last time, Stein, a former walk-on and Louisville native would face in-state rival Kentucky. I also think Charlie Strong wanting to show a lot of respect to his friend Joker Phillips was a factor.
Positives: Will Stein is going to be the back-up quarterback for this team and although he is a senior, any time he has the opportunity to get some reps, it’s going to help. Had Teddy Bridgewater been in the game late and gotten hurt with a win already in hand, Charlie Strong would never hear the end of it.
Negatives: There are no real negatives to pulling Teddy at the end of the third quarter and putting Will Stein in. However, I can’t help but wonder if Louisville would have kept Teddy in and scored at least two more touchdowns, which they probably could have done, would they have climbed more in the polls. The Cards climbed to #23 from #25, but were passed by Notre Dame who was previously unranked, but are now at #22. The Fighting Irish destroyed Navy by a score of 50-10.Had Louisville won by more than 18, would they have climbed higher? Maybe, but it really doesn’t matter at this point.
–Overall, I have no issue with the decision by the staff, but I do think that leaving Teddy in for at least one or two more series wouldn’t have hurt.