Inside Cardinal Football: Weekly notebook

The University of Louisville football team is preparing for the Jan. 2 Allstate Sugar Bowl against Florida, the school's second appearance in a BCS bowl game. Here are a few notebook items from the program heading into the holidays.

U OF L INJURY UPDATE

University of Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said on Thursday that his team would be healthier than any time during the season.

The Cardinals have had more than a month since the regular-season ending game at Rutgers and many of the dinged up players have healed.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater "is almost there," after playing against Rutgers with a sprained left ankle and broken left wrist. Bridgewater had a cast removed from his wrist earlier this week and is expected to take snaps under center.

Running back Senorise Perry suffered a torn ACL against Syracuse and is still sidelined, but Strong said "everybody else is pretty healthy." Tight end Ryan Hubbell hasn't been practicing because of a knee injury.

But Strong said defensive linemen Sheldon Rankins and DeAngelo Brown have been practicing, while Lorenzo Mauldin said he's "finally 100 percent."

Running backs coach Kenny Carter said Corvin Lamb had been hampered by an ankle injury since before the Syracuse game, but is also healthy now.

NINE PLAYERS GRADUATE FOR CARDINALS

Nine current U of L players and three other former football players for the Cardinals' went through graduation ceremonies last week.

Members of the 2012 team that earned degrees are: center Mario Benavides (Marketing), linebacker Daniel Brown (Communications), cornerback Adrian Bushell (Criminal Justice), cornerback Zed Evans (Criminal Justice), defensive tackle Roy Philon (Criminal Justice), wide receiver Andrell Smith (Criminal Justice), safety Hakeem Smith (Sports Administration), cornerback Titus Teague (Commuications) and running back Jeremy Wright (Health and Human Performance/Exercise Science). Benavides, Brown, Bushell and Smith are all out of eligibility after this season, while the others have one more season left on the field.

Former punter Josh Bleser and wide receiver Doug Beaumont also earned their degrees, while Renardo Foster was a tackle from 2003-06 and graduated through the Houston/Bridgeman Fellows Degree Completion Program.

Five other members of this year's squad – offensive lineman Alex Kupper, quarterback Will Stein, fullback Nick Heuser, tight end Nate Nord and Daniel Brown – were already in graduate school.

Strong lauded those players during his talk with the media on Thursday, noting academics "are a big part of this program." He said he expects everyone on the roster to be academically eligible to play in the bowl game.

CARDS IN EARLY BIRD RANKINGS

Coming off a 10-2 season and BCS bowl berth, the U of L program is expected to get a lot of play in the preseason polls next season.

And that's already started.

The Cardinals are ranked No. 11 in the Nationalchamps.net "Early Bird Preview" of top 25 rankings released on Monday.

The only other Big East team ranked is Boise State at No. 21.

Alabama is ranked No. 1, followed by Stanford, LSU, Notre Dame and Oregon.

CARDS TRAVEL PLANS

The Cardinals will return to campus on Dec. 26 and will leave for New Orleans on Dec. 27 in the afternoon.

The team travel party will include two planes.

U of L coach Charlie Strong and several players will meet the media at the airport in New Orleans. Practices in the Big Easy begin on Dec. 28.

Strong said the team "will have a curfew," in New Orleans, noting the Big Easy is "pretty crazy" on New Year's Eve.

CARDS ARE THROWING A PARTY

U of L sent out a release on Friday inviting any fans traveling to the Sugar Bowl to the Official Fan Party presented by Anthony Travel and the university.

The party will be held New Year's Day from 8-11 p.m. at the House of Blues New Orleans. The cost is $50 and will include an open bar and heavy hors d'oeuvres.

For information call (866) 833-3386 or go to www.anthonytravel.com.

EVANS HEADED TO North Texas

According to multiple reports out of Texas, Zed Evans will play his final season of eligibility at North Texas after graduating from U of L.

A former standout in the Dallas area in high school, Evans is expected to play in the Sugar Bowl and the head to North Texas. The cornerback was a Criminal Justice major and graduated last week.

Evans has mainly played special teams and has 12 tackles.


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