Gators: Louisville is legit


Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater says he and his teammates have something to prove against Florida. (The Associated Press)

Published: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 5:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 5:27 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS — Florida coach Will Muschamp said at his Sugar Bowl news conference Tuesday that there is no chance his players will take two-touchdown underdog Louisville lightly in Wednesday night's game.

When asked what he would say to people who say his team might not be mentally into the game, Muschamp said, “I think that's hogwash. I don't see that at all. I've seen our football team and how they've practiced and been physical. We've practiced the right way and been on time for everything.”

Muschamp said the Gators have been focused for this game just like they have been for every game this season.

“We have great respect for the opponent,” Muschamp said. “At the end of the day, regardless who we're playing, we take care of Florida. As long as we prepare the right way, we'll play well.”

Muschamp was also asked about pressure being on the Gators in this game.

“Every game is important if you're a competitor,” he said. “I don't care what you're doing. If you're going to go play in the parking lot, it's important. That's the way our football team approaches the game.

“At the University of Florida there is pressure in every game. We're expected to win them all.”

Debose back in lineup

Muschamp said Tuesday that Andre Debose and cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy will return kickoffs in Wednesday's game, while cornerback Marcus Roberson will continue to return punts.

Debose dressed out for the Florida State game but has not played since the Oct. 27 Georgia game. He has now fully recovered from a sprained knee.

Strong effort in Florida

Of the 34 Florida players on the Louisville roster, 27 were signed by Charlie Strong, the former UF defensive coordinator who has strong recruiting ties in the state. There are 15 Florida players on the Cardinals' two-deep Sugar Bowl depth chart.

“It's a key (having recruiting success in Florida),” Strong said. “There are so many players in the state of Florida. You have Miami, you have Florida State, you have Florida and everyone else comes. After they get them, there still are some outstanding players there.”

Praise for the freshmen

Muschamp paid a nice little tribute to his top three true freshmen defensive players during his news conference Tuesday.

“Antonio Morrison, (Jonathan) Bullard and (Dante) Fowler. … those three guys have been as productive as any freshmen I've been around,” Muschamp said.

A&M the turning point

Maybe it's because the Gators are in Louisiana. Whatever it is, they've been asked several times this week if the win over LSU was what jump-started this turnaround season for UF.

Muschamp and quarterback Jeff Driskel said it wasn't the LSU game. Both said it was the come-from-behind win at Texas A&M in the second game of the season.

“The way we were able to turn the game around and win it in the second half gave us a lot of confidence,” Driskel said.

Said Muschamp: “I think Texas A&M on the road was really the key game that got us going. That's a big game early in the year on the road. The Texas A&M game got us going and has carried us this far.”

Strong, Bostic are tight

Strong recruited starting middle linebacker Jon Bostic to Florida, and the two have remained close over the past three years, Bostic said. Strong is the one who predicted Bostic would make the move from safety to linebacker during his high school career.

“I've had a good relationship with him ever since high school,” Bostic said. “A lot of coaches try to sell the program when they are recruiting. But he really wanted to form a relationship with me and be more than just a coach.

“I knew wherever Charlie went he was going to have success. It was just a matter of time before somebody gave him chance after all the great things he's done.”

THIS AND THAT

Several legends will represent the schools in the opening coin toss. For Louisville, former football star and ESPN analyst Tom Jackson and native son Muhammad Ali will join the team captains on the field. Florida will be represented by former football standouts Emmitt Smith and Danny Wuerffel. ... Muschamp said one of the biggest things the Gators have had to adjust to this week in the Superdome are the lights. “We worked on it all week as far as the punt catchers, the kickoff returners and the receivers,” Muschamp said. “It is a little different with the lights in that stadium.”. ... Muschamp said he was not concerned with UF's lagging ticket sales for the Sugar Bowl. “I don't worry about that. I worry about third down,” he said. …Strong said UL quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is 100 percent physically for Wednesday's game after battling through wrist and ankle injuries late in the regular season. … Strong on playing No. 4 Florida: “It will show us exactly where we are as a program. It's going to be a measuring stick and show us how far behind we are and how much further we need to go.”

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