Cards focus boosted by respect for Canes

ORLANDO - The high amount of respect that the 18th-ranked Cardinals have for Miami has helped the team remained focused throughout Russell Athletic Bowl preparations.

Much has been made of Louisville's schedule this year and the impact it has played on the performance of the Cardinals during the 2013 regular season. Discussion about how the Cardinals play up, or down, to the level of the competition during one of the nation's softest schedules has been a hot topic throughout the team's 11-1 campaign.

When it was announced that 18th-ranked Louisville would face the Miami Hurricanes in the Russell Athletic Bowl, that concern quickly disappeared. With 26 players on the Louisville roster hailing from the Miami area and more than a dozen more from elsewhere in the Sunshine State, there was no worry about team focus during bowl preparations.

"What's been great about this opponent is that with a lot of our players coming from South Florida, they grew up watching this team play," U of L head coach Charlie Strong said during his pregame press conference on Friday afternoon. "A lot of them deep down, when you talk to our players, they are Hurricane fans.

"There's not much you have to say because they understand and they respect. When you respect your opponent and they have tremendous amount of respect for the University of Miami I don't have to say much."

With the exception of a few scheduled team outings, it has been all business since the team arrived in Orlando on Sunday. The coaching staff immediately began game week work upon arrival and have continued with the business-like approach throughout the week.

"It's game week and it doesn't change for us whether it's a bowl game or the regular season game," Strong explained. "Our routine stays the same. We don't change our routine at all. I always tell them, 'you know what guys, now that it is game week, your focus totally changes'. When we started preparation on Sunday it was just a different mindset because even though we came down on Sunday, it was just game preparation for us."

Louisville continues game week prep today with a walk-through a the Citrus Bowl Stadium.

"Today is a Friday, so we'll go out and do walk-through and just make sure that the mental approach is there for us," Strong said. "We'll get up tomorrow and do a walk-through and then we'll go play that game. I think they are sitting on the edge of their seat also. They've been waiting for two weeks now, so its exciting."

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