Look Back: Bridgewater, Strong Lead Cards’ BIG EAST Honors

Louisville sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and head coach Charlie Strong was tabbed the BIG EAST Co-Coach of the Year, as the league announced football awards for the 2012 season earlier this month.

Overall, eight Cardinals populated the first and second All-BIG EAST teams. Cornerback Adrian Bushell was selected first team on defense for the second-straight season, while Bridgewater, center Mario Benavides and wide receiver DeVante Parker were first-team selections on offense.

The Cardinals had three players earn second-team honors on defense in linebacker Preston Brown, safety Calvin Pryor and safety Hakeem Smith, who earned league honors for the third-straight season.

Bridgewater guided the Cardinals to a 10-2 regular season and a trip to the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Miami, Fla., native threw for 3,452 yards and 25 touchdowns in 11 games as a starter. Coming off the bench for the first time in over a year, Bridgewater threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-17 win over Rutgers. He threw for 424 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to Syracuse and 416 yards and two scores in an overtime win over Cincinnati.

Strong earned BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors for the second time in three seasons. He was tabbed the league’s top coach in 2010 before being named again this year after leading the Cardinals to their second-straight BIG EAST championship.

Bushell is enjoying his best season as a Cardinal, recording 59 tackles and one interception. He also leads the team with 11 pass break-ups. One of the top offensive linemen for the Cardinals over the last four years, Benavides earned first team honors. The native of Los Fresnos, Texas, Benavides has started all 12 games this year and owns 46 career starts.

Parker has been a big-play receiver for the Cardinals, leading the team with nine touchdown receptions. He caught a career-best 38 passes for 712 yards, averaging 18.7 yards a catch. He has caught a touchdown pass in five consecutive games and registered a pair of scores against Cincinnati and Connecticut.

Brown earned second-team honors after leading the team in tackles. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Brown has registered 96 tackles and one interception.

Pryor is second on the team with 94 tackles and has been a mainstay in the secondary for the last two seasons. He leads the team with four forced fumbles. Smith, who was a first-team all-league honoree a year ago, is third on the team with 66 tackles from the safety spot.


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