Copeland leads Cardinal receivers

University of Louisville senior receiver Damian Copeland leads the team in receptions and receiving yards, but as injuries plague the receiving corp his leadership is also crucial as the Cardinals prepare for UCF.

As DeVante Parker watched from the sidelines with an injured shoulder and Kai De La Cruz leaving the game in the third quarter, senior Damian Copeland stepped up to compile a career-high game for the University of Louisville in its 24-10 victory over Rutgers last week.

The senior from Bradenton, Fla., hauled in 8 passes for 115 yards against the Scarlet Knights. With Parker and De La Cruz both still questionable for Friday nights home contest against UCF, Copeland will again be looked upon to lead the Cardinals receiving corp.

"I think I play better under pressure," Copeland told Cardinal Authority on Monday. "It all starts in practice. If you are prepared in practice then there is no reason to feel pressure in a game."

Copeland's leadership is also a factor.

Should Parker and De La Cruz not be ready, true freshman James Quick, a former five-star and U.S. Army All-American, figures to see an increased role against the Knights on Friday. Junior Michaelee Harris, who has returned to action following another year of rehab, will also be counted on.

In addition to making big plays, Copeland understands that his role will also encompass, "leading the wide receiver position by making sure guys are on top of their game."

The question whether Parker or De La Cruz will play on Friday night remains unanswered. Parker had a better than anticipated workout on Monday and resumed working in pads during Tuesday's practice.

"We would love to have him, but if he can't go that when the other guys need to step up, guys like [James] Quick and Michaelee Harris."

"We're smart enough to have a plan ready," offensive coordinator Shawn Watson explained on Monday. "We started working on a plan on Sunday, so we're a few days into a plan in case they can't go."

Through six games, Copeland leads the Cardinals with 23 receptions and 379 yards, both of which rank in the top ten in the American Athletic Conference.

Off to a 2-0 start in conference play, the Cardinals are tied with Houston and USF atop the AAC standings. A victory this weekend will help create separation and boost the program's chances of playing in a second straight BCS bowl.

Undefeated through six games and ranked No. 6 in both the USA Today Coaches and Harris Interactive Top 25 polls, head coach Charlie Strong often refers to his team as the best in the country, a sentiment shared by Copeland.

"As a player I feel the same way," he said. "I feel like we are the best team in college football. It doesn't matter what everybody says, we just have to go out and take care of our business and win each and every game."

Cardinal Authority Top Stories