Dec. 19, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky.- As preparations in Louisville come to a close for the Christmas holiday, the University of Louisville football team is preparing for what will be its biggest challenge in school history.
The Cardinals, back-to-back champions in the BIG EAST Conference, have three more practices in Louisville before taking a break for the holidays. The players leave on Friday, Dec. 21, and return to Louisville on Dec. 26. The squad will get a workout in on Dec. 27 before leaving on an afternoon flight to New Orleans.
The players understand the challenge they are facing against Florida, which is 11-1 overall, 7-1 in the tough SEC Conference. However, the Cardinals are embracing the magnitude of the game and have been focused over the last seven practices.
"This is the biggest game in school history," said sophomore wide receiver Eli Rogers. "The preparation has been great. We have been going at it every day working on fundamentals and working on our assignments."
Rogers will be a focal point for the Florida defense during its bowl preparations. The Miami, Fla., native caught a career-best 42 passes for 443 yards and four scores. He caught 10 passes for 97 yards versus Syracuse and has been dangerous in the middle of the field, especially in crucial situations.
Rogers understands the Cardinals will be going up against one of the stiffest pass defenses in the nation and knows the type of challenge the Gators present to the young Louisville offense, which returns all but three starters next season.
"We are preparing for their defense," said Rogers. "This is a game and we have to come in with knowledge of our assignments. It's a big challenge. They have one of the best defenses in the nation, so it's going to be a big challenge, but we will be ready."
The Cardinals are excited for the opportunity to showcase their up-and-coming program to a national audience on Jan. 2. For one thing, the Cardinals won't be intimidated by their opponent and will relish the opportunity to play in the school's second BCS bowl appearance.
"There is a lot of excitement," said junior wide receiver Damian Copeland. "It's a big-time game. It's a statement game for this program. We are accepting the challenge. We have been flying around in practice and are excited about this opportunity."
Louisville is considered a huge underdog by the rest of the country, but all that matters to the Louisville team is that they prepare for the task at hand. The staff has been working around the clock, putting the game plan together to give the Cardinals the best opportunity to win. The staff, which has a huge Florida flavor as well, is also excited about this opportunity for the program.
"It is what it is," said running back coach Kenny Carter. "We don't worry about how the media tries to makes us this or makes us that. It's a game we have to play against a very good opponent. That is why you play the game. That is why you put yourself in position to be in a BCS level game."