Miami's speed an 'issue' for Cards defense

ORLANDO - Charlie Strong says Hurricanes have best offense that the University of Louisville has faced since he arrived in 2010.

When Louisville's defense takes the field for the first time in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Saturday, it will be facing its toughest challenge during the Charlie Strong era.

The Miami offense have a balanced attack that boasts of excellent speed at the skill positions. The Hurricanes are among the top 40 offensive units in the nation, averaging 447 yards a game. They average 5.1 yards per rush attempt and 15.4 yards per pass completion.

"They're a very physical team that does a great job of balancing the running and passing game on offense," University of Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said on Friday afternoon.

"Our hands are going to full. I will say this, in our four years that I've been here, this is the best offense that our defense will match up with. It's going to be a good matchup for our defense."

The play of the Cardinals secondary will be key against the Hurricanes. Senior receiver Allen Hurns is one of the top play-makers in the nation, finishing 20th in the country with 1,138 yards. He's only the fourth player in program history to eclipse the century mark in a single season.

Freshman receiver Stacy Coley, who is the only the player in the nation this season to score a touchdown via rushing, receiving, punt return and kick return, also helps to stretch the field for the UM offense. He finished the regular season second on the team with 30 receptions and 559 yards.

"That's an issue for us," Strong said. "When you look at those wide receivers, they can get down the field. That's one team that when a guy runs a 4.3 or 4.4 he plays like it. A lot times guys say they run a 4.4, but they play like they run a 4.8. Those receivers play like they run a 4.3 and a 4.4 and Morris does a great job of getting the ball down the field. You can look at a lot of passes and say that it's going to be overthrown, but those receivers can run and go get it.

Louisville's defense finished the regular season fifth in the nation against the pass and will need such a performance against Miami.

"We have to do a great job of covering and not give up the big play," Strong continued. "Our defensive backs hands are going to be full. They are going to have to be able to go and run. It's going to be a good matchup for. On defense we are going to have to play smart and not give up the big play."

For Strong, who served as defensive coordinator at South Carolina and Florida prior to coming to Louisville in 2010, the lower the final score, the better.

"I'm a defensive coach and if the game was 9-3 it wouldn't bother me at all," he explained. "If it was 15-12 it wouldn't bother me. I just know that at the end of the day if you're going to win, you're going to win with great defense."

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