On the team's second offensive series and facing a 2nd and 10 at the U of L 37 yard line, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater connected with senior wide receiver Damian Copeland for a 21-yard reception that moved the Cardinals into Miami territory and simultaneously sent a message to the Hurricanes secondary.
After making the catch, Copeland made the turn and began racing up field, along the Miami sideline. Hurricane defensive back Tracy Howard closed in on Copeland, but was met with a stiff-arm that enabled the Cardinals receiver to add additional yardage on the play.
"I just wanted to get a little anger out," Copeland said of the first quarter play. "That's how I am. I'm a different person on the field. I was just sending a statement that it was going to be a long day for you."
It was a statement that proved true throughout Louisville's 36-9 thumping of the Hurricanes in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
The Cardinals receiving corp moved with ease and executed their routes to perfection for the entire game. Copeland finished with 6 receptions for 90 yards, including three that went for over 20 yards.
"It was amazing," Copeland said. "We come to play on a big stage. We feel like America is against us. I feel like we got a little respect back, but going into this game, we didn't have respect."
Once the celebrations are over, the senior from Bradenton, Fla., will have an important career choice to make. In late November, the NCAA granted him a medical hardship waiver and granted him a sixth year of eligibility.
"I've thought about it a little bit," Copeland told Cardinal Authority. "I'm going to talk to my family. I have a decision coming up and I'm going to what's best for me and my family."
Among the factors that will play a role in his pending decision is the upcoming decision by Bridgewater to stay or leave a year early for the NFL.
"That's a pro and a con," Copeland said, adding that redshirt freshman quarterback Will Gardner is "going to be a great quarterback."
"I'm trying to weigh all my pros and cons."
Regardless of his decision to move on to professional football, Copeland the other seniors on the team have reestablished the winning ways of Cardinal football.
"That's the biggest thing for seniors, we want to leave on a good note," he said. "The freshmen see that and as the years go on, they become us and then they teach the younger guys. The biggest thing is that under Coach Strong we are trying to set tradition."
A native of the Sunshine State, Copeland has enjoyed defeating two of his home state programs during the last two bowl seasons.
"It's a blessing to play these last two bowl games against two of the powerhouse three in Florida and beat them both."