Dec. 30, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - University of Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bedford addressed the media assembled for the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl on Sunday morning.
Bedford, who is directing a top 25 defense for the third-straight season, is trying to get his unit ready for what will be a 60-minute grind-it-out ballgame, where the Gators will try to impose their will on a young Cardinal defense. However, the Cardinals are going to be ready for whatever the Gators throw at them on Wednesday night in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
"Players are excited to be here," said Bedford, who is in his third season with the Cardinals. "We're looking forward to a challenge. No one expected us to be here but us. We have an outstanding head coach in Coach Charlie Strong. But what you have seen in him, you're seeing in our football team, a very tenacious, hardworking team. That's why we're here. We're here to put on a good show. We're looking forward to the challenge of playing the University of Florida."
The Cardinals are fully aware of the challenges that Florida's offense presents, a tough, hard-nosed running team that will try to pound their opponent into submission. It's there where the Cardinals have yet to fully develop. Louisville has struggled to stop the run at times this year, but have done a better job in recent games.
However, to beat the Gators, you must stop the run. Florida averages more than 190 yards per game and has worn teams out with their ground game.
"Florida plays with a lot of confidence," said Bedford. "You look at those guys, and I know a lot of those guys on that team, by the way. The offensive line is big and athletic. I think right now the quarterback position, they're playing better. You could see the confidence building every single game. The receivers are starting to step up. They're making plays and did an outstanding job versus the Florida State University. And Gillislee is playing lights out. We knew when we recruited him several years ago, Coach Carter, our running back coach recruited him, he's playing extremely well. So we're very concerned about that running game."
The Cardinals were a banged up defensive unit for most of the season, especially along the defensive line, where Louisville had to shuffle personnel on a number of occasions. But after a nice layoff, the Cardinals are healthy upfront, and that could be the key to Louisville's success on Wednesday night.
"It does give us some depth where we can rotate guys in and out," said Bedford. "But for defensive linemen, you're hurt on the first play to start the season. That's part of playing interior. We're going to try to rush four, rush three and give different looks. We will zone pressure sometimes. And for us to have a chance with this ballgame we have to keep them off balance with different looks, different fronts, movements and stunts. So I'm happy to have all of those guys back. We plan to play every guy we have up front."
Due to the New Orleans Saints game against Carolina on Sunday, the Cardinals moved their practice to the Saints practice facility. Louisville had a spirited two-hour workout indoors, where they focused on third down and two-minute drills.
The Cardinals will hold a typical "Thursday-type" practice on Monday afternoon at the Superdome.