U of L defense needs to limit big plays

The University of Louisville defense will need to limit the big plays against the Miami offense in the Russell Athletic Bowl game on Saturday in Orlando, Fla. Cardinal Authority has the latest.

The University of Louisville defense has their work cut out for them as they prepare to take on Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28.

The team's biggest challenge: figuring out how to slow the explosive Hurricanes, whose offense thrives on making big plays.

"They're the fastest team we've seen this season," defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said of the Hurricanes. "Their receivers have outstanding speed. They have a lot of guys who are going to play at the next level."

Bedford and the Cardinal defense have a handful of playmaking wide outs to scheme for in the coming week- most notably Allen Hurns. Hurns, a senior, has caught 60 passes this season for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns. He also has plays 66, 69, 80, and 84 yards.

Outside of Hurns, Miami has gotten big-time production out of Stacy Coley, Herb Waters, and Clive Walford. Coley is the team's second leading receiver with 30 catches for 559 yards and seven touchdowns, and also has a 73-yard rushing score.

"It's the big plays (that hurt you)," Bedford said. "They average two or three plays over 40 yards every game.

"They're going to throw ten deep-balls, if he hits two, that's 14 points. We've got to limit the big plays. If we do that, we've got a chance to win in the fourth quarter."

Because of the big play threat presented by Miami's offense, the Cardinals will rely heavily on their two safeties, Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor. The pair have been huge for the team this season, as they've amassed over 100 tackles and six interceptions between them.

"They're going to be very crucial," Bedford said of Smith and Pryor. "We've got the guys playing deep for this game, and (we've been) working on a lot of deep-balls.

"It's something we haven't seen the entire season, most people don't throw the ball that deep. These guys go after you all the time."

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