U of L secondary goal - no big plays

NEW ORLEANS – Heading into Wednesday's Allstate Sugar Bowl, the University of Louisville's main key is to stop the Florida rushing attack. But the U of L secondary also has an important job – no big plays. Cardinal Authority talks to the secondary about their improvement and the game against the Gators.

Stopping the run is the main objective for the University of Louisville defense in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Florida on Wednesday.

But for the U of L secondary there's another big key:

"Eliminate the big play," cornerback Terell Floyd said. "You play for big games like this and we look forward to the challenges. We just have to make sure we don't give up any big plays."

U of L ranks No. 49 in pass defense efficiency, while Florida is only ranked No. 114 in the country in pass offense.

But the Gators do have some playmakers and quarterback Jeff Driskel averages 133.7 yards a game through the air.

"We have to make sure we stop the run, but we also have to make sure they don't get any big plays," safety Calvin Pryor said. "Sometimes we do give up big plays, so we just have to really stay focused."

Defensive backs coach Tommy Restivo, in his first season as a full-time coach, said his group has used the extra time of practice to focus on assignments and make sure they're ready for whatever the Gators' throw at them.

"As a secondary, we improved every week and that's what you like to see," Restivo said. "But now we have to keep building on that. We've had a lot of time to try and figure out what they are doing and got a lot of good prep.

"Now, we just have to do a good job of executing and tackling."

The Cardinals have held three opponents this season under 100 yards passing – Temple (54 yards), Southern Miss (25) and Connecticut (92) – and allowed over 200 yards passing just four games.

The opposition is completing just 57.5 percent of its passes this season but has thrown 21 touchdown passes.

"We've played pretty good this season but it helps that we go against one of the most talented wide receivers groups in the country every day in practice," safety Hakeem Smith said. "We just need to keep playing well."

Floyd and Pryor top the team with two interceptions apiece, along with linebacker James Burgess. All Big East cornerback Adrian Bushell leads the team with 11 pass breakups and Smith has six. Pryor has four forced fumbles.

"We've done a pretty good job so far," said Bushell, who transferred from Florida. "If we go there and keep our head in straight, there's no telling what we can do. We have to eliminate the big plays, and a lot of that was communications and all being on the same page. We've really done a better job at that.

"Now, we have to stay focused and do it again."

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