Florida insists Sugar Bowl foe Louisville is legit
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Florida seniors Jon Bostic and Omar Hunter are done dwelling on what might have been if not for their lone loss to Georgia.
After finishing third in the BCS standings, one spot too low to play for a national title in Miami, the Gators asserted they remain highly motivated heading into Wednesday night's Sugar Bowl against two-touchdown underdog Louisville.
Hunter even suggested a victory for fourth-ranked Florida (11-1) over No. 22 Louisville (10-2) would be a "program changer," because Florida has not been to a BCS bowl game since Tim Tebow left after the 2009 season.
Last year, the Gators nearly missed out on the postseason, finishing the regular season 6-6 before posting a 24-17 victory over Ohio State in the Gator Bowl. This season, only a 17-9 loss to Georgia on Oct. 27 got in their way.
"Being able to get this program back to a BCS game and possibly winning the game is big for our program," Hunter said. "Being able to say that you brought Florida back to the top before you left is going to be special for these seniors."
The Gators are hesitant to buy into the idea they'll just roll over the champions of the Big East without much resistance.
One reason is their familiarity with Louisville coach Charlie Strong, who was Florida's defensive coordinator from 2003-09, a period that included national championships in the 2006 and 2008 seasons.
"I played for his defense and I know how he talked to us and got us ready for games and I know their defense is going to be ready," Hunter said. "Coach Charlie Strong is a great coach. He's going to give everything he has to those guys and those guys are going to come out ready."
Strong has sought to motivate his players by playing up their underdog status.
"Nobody really gives us a chance," Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith said. "We kind of take that to heart and want to show everybody what we can do."
Cardinals safety Calvin Pryor said he believes Louisville will "shock the world."
"I have confidence in my team and the guys who I play with and I feel like this is a big statement game for us," Pryor said. "I feel like we're going to make big things happen on Wednesday."
Strong said he may get a little sentimental when he walks onto the Superdome field and sees some of the players he recruited on the other sideline and hears the Florida band play the fight songs with which he became so familiar over the years.
Yet the importance of the game for Strong has more to do with matching his team against an opponent from the Southeastern Conference, home to national title winners the past six years, than the fact he used to coach in the Swamp.
"It's going to be key for our program because we have a chance to go play a Southeastern Conference opponent, an opponent that's one game away from playing for a national championship," Strong said. "If you look at the Southeastern Conference, look at the national championships over the last few years, it speaks for itself. ... Our team, they're really excited about it."
Strong had a chance to rejoin the SEC as Tennessee's head coach, but chose instead to remain at Louisville, an indication of how far he believes he can take Cardinals football, particularly if he keeps prolific sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater around the next couple seasons.
Bridgewater, an exceptional passer and scrambler, ranked eighth in the nation in pass efficiency, throwing for 3,452 yards and 25 TDs. Although he was worn down up by the end of the season, he was tough enough to overcome a broken wrist and sore ankle, and played a crucial part-time role in a 20-17 victory over Rutgers in late November that punched Louisville's BCS ticket.
He's now had a little over a month to rest, and is doing better, though Strong was coy about how much better.
"Our game plan is all about Teddy. So Teddy's healthy now," Strong said. "I'm not saying he's 100 percent, but he's going to be better than he was in the Rutgers game."
Bridgewater led an offense that scored an average of 31 points this season, and Florida's defense is assuming the quarterback is healthy. But the Gators aren't exactly lacking confidence in their ability to slow him down. The Gators rank first nationally in pass defense efficiency, fifth in total defense and third in scoring defense, allowing an average of 12.9 points.
With its defense playing so well, Florida was able to win this season with a ball-control offense that did not ask too much of quarterback Jeff Driskel, who completed about 65 percent of his passes for 1,471 yards and 11 TDs.
The Gators largely rode running back Mike Gillislee, who rushed 1,104 yards and 10 TDs, and who is a threat to break off long runs.
"You look at the big plays he's had in the open field, he can do a lot of things," Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said. "One thing we cannot allow him to do is cut back on us. If he does, he's probably going to take it to the distance."
Updated January 1, 2013
In the latest edition of the "It Is What It Is" podcast, Chris Price and CSNNE's Mike Giardi take a look at the Patriots offseason on both sides of the ball, try and get a handle on which new guys will make an impact first, and whether or not the Patriots have altered their style when it comes to drafting and developing wide receivers.
Mike Florio joined the program to discuss the Jets decision to release Tim Tebow, he said the situation is as disaster all around for the Jets and that the problems begins with owner Woody Johnson. Mike also said that he was disappointed with the Pats moving back in the first round.
One of the hardest working men in the biz, Mike Petraglia aka "Trags", sits down with Butch Stearns live in Foxborough to help break down all the latest Pats moves. He discusses his reaction to the trade in Round 1 and the guys those picks produced. Also, the boys talk about the decent trade the Pats made in acquiring LeGarrette Blount from Tampa Bay for Jeff Demps and a 7th rounder.
We check in with Danny Ainge for our first talk to him since the Celtics season ended last weekend. We talk about the future of the team, KG, Pierce, Doc Rivers and more, as Danny directly answers the rumors being floated by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
Jackie Mac joins the show to discuss the trade rumors swirling around Paul Pierce, KG, Doc Rivers and the Celtics. She also discusses the future of the Celtics head coach.
Stephen A. joined the program to discuss the trade rumors he has reported regarding a possible trade including Doc Rivers and the Clippers. Stephen A. also told the guys that he has heard that Danny and Doc may be tiring of working together.
Joe Castiglione talked with John Lackey after he picked up the W against the Twins. Lackey threw seven innings, and retired the 1st twelve batters of the game.
Dave O'Brien talked to John Farrell before the end of the Twins series. The Sox skipper said that Big Papi's success is no surprise given his work ethic.
John Farrell postgame press conference
Dale and DJ roll on with their puck talk and chat some more about the goalie matchup in this series, as well as the lack of a quality power play for both of these teams. In fact, DJ says the Rangers are even worse on the PP than the B’s! The guys also get into the resurgence of Milan Lucic and his deceptive speed and grit. Dale and DJ talk about the similar styles of play for these teams and look forward to Game 2.
Dale and DJ get into the two coaches and their polar opposite styles and demeanor. Both teams play a similar style, but the coaches certainly convey their messages in a different way. Dale isn't buying the Tortorella hype and thinks he's a little overrated. DJ thinks he's a good coach, but isn't a fan of anti-media stance. The guys also talk about Jagr and how he has not lived up to the hype. They weren't expecting him to light it up or be the savior, but DJ says he wasn't prepared for just how slow the aging veteran is. Another big topic for B's fans this season is the play of Tyler Seguin and why he has yet to become the superstar everyone anticipates he will be. This leads to Claude Julien's style and if he does actually have something against the younger players. That Iginla trade shows its ugly head again as well.
WEEI.com's DJ Bean joins Dale in studio for Sports Sunday to discuss the Bruins playoff run. Game 2 is later today and the guys discuss the results of the first game of the series. They get into the construction of the lines for the B's and if they would make any changes. DJ has a few ideas for the lines today. The boys also discuss the two goalies - Tuukka vs Henrik Lundqvist and wonder why people automatically think the Rangers have the edge at goalie. Finally, they get into the legacy and the decisions of Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli.
Shawn joined the program to discuss another overtime win for the Bruins. When asked about Game 7 against Toronto, Thornton said that he would like to keep his specific comments in the dressing room private, but acknowledged that he encouraged Tyler Seguin to up his play and it paid off in overtime.
Barry joined the guys to help breakdown the Bruins overtime win last night in game one. Barry said that he has rarely seen a team dominate as much as the Bruins yet be forced to an overtime.
Boomer joined the program to discuss the tough loss for his beloved Rangers. Boomer told the guys that Lundqvist will be better in game two and predicted a seven game series.
Bruins rookie defenseman Matt Bartkowski has emerged as one of the young stars of the team and he joins Mut and Tom Caron to discuss his role on the team, why he's confident, and the trade that almost sent him to Calgary.
Millar joins the show to discuss the recent Sox slide, Jacoby Ellsbury's lack of power, and hitting in the big leagues.
Andy Brickley joins the show to discuss the Bruins Game 1 win over the Rangers, the play of the three young Bruins defensemen, and the fatigue Jagr has shown on the ice.
We talk all things game one with Jack Edwards of NESN, and get to hear a little from Jack's Finnish protege as well.
We tackle four topics we haven't yet touched upon today.. Joe Thornton and disappointing former Boston athletes, parking in Boston, buying jersey numbers and more...
We talk about the report that Rob Gronkowski may now be a candidate for back surgery with a disc problem. Is Gronk just an injury prone guy? Or is he not rehabbing proberly? Can the Pats build an offense around a guy who is so inconsistently on the field? We discuss.
The Bruins have almost finished raking the Leafs, the Red Sox struggle from the mound, Miami Heat fans show their level of class.
Daily Planet Wednesday May 8th
Today on the Daily Planet the Bruins take a 2-1 series lead, the Red Sox get a run-off win, and we hear about cannibals and bible thieves.
Sounds like a prostate exam to me!
Damn New Yorkers!
Sauce Man stylings!
Linda explains how the shootout transpired in Watertown during the early morning hours. She saw the first suspect mortally wounded and police beginning the manhunt for the second suspect.More from this show
We check in with Danny Ainge for our first talk to him since the Celtics season ended last weekend. We talk about the future of the team, KG, Pierce, Doc Rivers and more, as Danny directly answers the rumors being floated by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.More from this show
Buster Olney joins the show to discuss the muddled AL East, the average play of Ellsbury and how that will affect him in free agency, and Tropicana Field.More from this show
Boomer joined the program to discuss the tough loss for his beloved Rangers. Boomer told the guys that Lundqvist will be better in game two and predicted a seven game series.More from this show