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Martin Fennelly Columns

Fennelly: Teddy Ballgame blasts hapless Bulls

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Published:   |   Updated: October 27, 2013 at 01:31 AM

TAMPA — Well, at least somebody has a starting quarterback.

He plays for Louisville, his name is Teddy Bridgewater and he’ll work Sundays next year.

There’s Bridgewater ... and there’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.

The South Florida Bulls, like the Bucs before them, have decided to work without a net.

For Bulls coach Willie Taggart, it was either throw down or throw up Saturday during a 34-3 loss to 18th-ranked-Louisville, USF’s third consecutive game without an offensive touchdown.

Taggart had seen enough of his stupendously bad offense. So much that after flailing senior Bobby Eveld went down with an injury, and so-so Steven Bench had an interception returned for a TD, and with third-stringer Matt Floyd apparently no factor, Taggart tapped Mike White to take his very first college snaps, thereby burning White’s redshirt season.

“We’re going to try to find some playmakers wherever we can,” Taggart said. “I wanted to see what the kid could do for us.”

USF, which amassed 133 yards, third fewest in school history, will turn to its fourth starting quarterback in eight games when White faces Houston on Thursday night — Halloween.

Can we get a real starting quarterback in Tampa Bay?

Well, yes, we can.

He was just down the hall at Raymond James Stadium after Saturday’s game.

Louisville has found its QB. Maybe the Bucs will happen upon him, too.

It was all about 5 on Saturday.

No, not that 5.

Teddy Bridgewater wears number 5 for Louisville. He could be the top quarterback taken in the next NFL draft. He could even be the No. 1 pick, certainly Top 5, so the loser Bucs might be in play for him, yes, even though Greg Schiano HAS NOT LOST THE BUCS LOCKER ROOM.

Meanwhile, back here on Earth, I went to the Louisville locker room after Saturday’s game and found the 6-foot-3 Miami native Bridgewater taking questions after completing 25 of 29 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns. It was surgery of a high order: cool and calm and smart, big and strong and fast, a modern NFL QB prototype.

By the way, in three games against USF, Teddy Ballgame completed 79.2 percent of his passes for 841 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.

Told his name is on some Bucs’ fans lips, Bridgewater made a Sunshine smile.

“This is my first time (playing here),” he said. “It’s pretty exciting to hear, knowing you’re appreciated throughout the country, to see that your hard work is paying off.”

That’s Teddy Bridgewater

And now back to Bridge Over Troubled Water.

If this isn’t is a panic move by Taggart, it’s at least one of disgust. His offense has scored six touchdowns all season, the fewest in the FBS.

Six touchdowns is Oregon by halftime.

Funny, but some things had actually been looking up for Taggart and his guys. Indeed, the most amazing thing about USF going three games without the offense scoring a TD is that the Bulls won two of those games — their first victories under Taggart after an 0-4 start.

But Saturday was grim reality, aided by a strong Louisville defense. Not that USF’s offense needs help. Consider that two weeks ago South Florida scored 13 points (fumble return, two field goals) to beat winless UConn. UConn, winless still, gave up 62 points at No. 21 UCF on Saturday.

Taggart is out of answers and now out of quarterbacks.

White, who is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, won the Class 3A state title last season with Fort Lauderdale University School. We don’t know much else, since Taggart does not his allow freshmen to speak with media.

But someone close to the program told me that Mike White makes all the throws, loves spaghetti and, one more thing, is convinced Coach Schiano HAS NOT LOST THE BUCS LOCKER ROOM.

USF would settle for finding a quarterback.

Louisville has.

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