UM prepares for final test; ten-win season hangs in the balance; Bridgewater must be stopped

Mike Ehrmann

Saturday night, the Miami Hurricanes have a chance to do something that no Miami team has done in nearly a decade. They can win ten games in a single season. To accomplish that feat they will have to ground Teddy Bridgewater and the high-scoring Louisville Cardinal offense. We will see if Miami's defense is up to the challenge and if quarterback Stephen Morris can show everyone that the season was a Mirage and that he is among the elite in college football.

University of Miami coach Al Golden sat at the dais Friday afternoon at the Russell Athletic Bowl luncheon and faced questions from the media that surrounded everything from defending Teddy Bridgewater, to recruiting, to the good season that the University of Central Florida had in 2013.

One could tell by the smile on his face that he exuded confidence and wanted to let the public know that the Hurricanes were in Orlando to play a football game and to put this program back on the map.  He has made it known all week that a ten-win season is very important to this senior class.

"We've turned our focus here in the last 48 hours to really getting ready for a good Louisville Cardinal team and we are excited about the opportunity to kick that ball off," Golden said. "I think we're in the right - you know, we have a long way to go until we kick it off, but we're in the right frame of mind right now."

It did not take long for the conversation to turn to Louisville's record-setting quarterback who just might forego his senior season and leave college for the National Football League after this game.

Bridgewater was a main topic of conversation and Golden looked like his squad was ready to assume the role of sending Teddy into the NFL, if he so opts after the game, with a loss.  Golden was complimentary as he always is, but you could tell that he believes in his squad and that they will be up for the challenge.

"You can't let him throw in rhythm, so obviously you have to get pressure on him, you have to change up the rotation or the looks," Golden said. "He'll pick you apart if you just stay in one coverage of if you don't put any pressure on him.  The thing about Teddy Bridgewater is that he probably does not get enough credit for his mechanics.  They are tremendous.  He has tremendous balance, tremendous mechanics and is really well taught."

Golden also brought up the fact that his interception ratio is really low.

"We have to find a way to get pressure on him and we have to obviously make some plays."

One player that Golden referred to as being a key component in stopping Bridgewater is defensive back Ladarius Gunter, who missed the last game against Pitt with an upper extremity injury.  He has had time to heal and he will be leading the secondary.

"I think he understands the challenge ahead of him with Teddy and this great receiving corps that we're going to face," Golden said. "He's been really doing well."

Louisville coach Charlie Strong spoke about Miami's high-flying offense and the fact that the receivers are true to form and actually play faster than they are.

"That's an issue for us.  When you look at those wide receivers and when they can match up wide receiver wise, they can get down the field," Strong said. "That's one team that if a guy tuns a 4.3 or 4.4., he plays it.  (Stephen) Morris does a great job of getting the ball down the field.  You can look at a lot of passes and you think it's going to be overthrown, but those receivers, they can run and go get it.

"We have to do a great job of covering and not giving up the big play.  Our defensive backs, their hands are going to be full.  They're going to have to be able to go and they're going to have to be able to run. It's going to be a good match-up for us. We have to play smart and not give up the big play"

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