Louisville's defense gears up for Orange Bowl

The Louisville defense is gearing up to stop Riley Skinner and the Wake Forest offensive attack in Tuesday's FedEx Orange Bowl.

While there are no household names or big stars on the Wake Forest offense, the Demon Deacons proved effective all year – effective enough to win the Atlantic Coast Conference.

After an early season-ending injury to starting quarterback Ben Mauk, freshman Riley Skinner stepped in and the Wake Forest offense didn't miss a beat, earning ACC Rookie of the Years honors while leading the Deacons to an 11-2 mark and a win over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game.

"Wake's got a very good offense and Riley Skinner's got a good arm and can move the ball down the field with running back [Kevin] Moore, so they've got a good team," Brandon Sharp.

Besides preparing for Wake Forest, Louisville has been trying to adjust to the warm temperatures in Miami.

"Practice has been good," William Gay said. "We're getting into that heat coming from Louisville, but we've got a lot of players from down in this area so they know what the heat's about, so we're trying not to have the heat on our mind and practice like we normally do."

Gay said the biggest challenge Wake Forest presents is their speed.

"The first thing that comes to mind about Wake's offense is speed," Gay said. "As I looked at them on film, we have to contain them- a big part of their game is the speed and getting around them- so we want to contain that and hopefully slow them down."

Another hurdle for Louisville's defense to overcome is the loss of starting cornerback Gavin Smart. Smart, who intercepted three passes this season, broke his leg last week during practice and will not play in the Orange Bowl Tuesday night. Sophomore Rod Council will start in Smart's place.

"[Gavin Smart] was a big loss, but we have many guys that are going to step up," Sharp said. "We had a lot of injuries this year and guys had to step up, so we've just got to work through it."

Without Smart, Council and the rest of the Louisville defense are hard at work preparing for Wake Forest's unique offensive scheme.

"They have a lot of speed and do a lot of reverse and misdirection plays," Amobi Okoye said. "I think our coaches have a good preparation, a good plan, a good game set up for us."

"They're one of those types of teams that always get their block in and they do a lot of different things so with our speed defense," Malik Jackson added. "We've got to keep that going for us - we can't be hesitant watching people going one way and know we've just got to play downhill and attack the offense."

Zach Anderson says Louisville will have to match Wake's disciplined style.

"They're real quick off the ball, they're very disciplined and they don't make too many mistakes," Zach Anderson said. "Therefore, we just have to stay focused, watch the ball, and get off when they get off. In that offense, everybody must do their job and be disciplined. They have two very fast receivers; two of the fastest guys in the ACC. We have to stay at home and be disciplined and just do what we're taught to do."

Nate Harris, Louisville's senior captain and linebacker, summed things up.

"Wake Forest is a great team and we're definitely not looking past them. They've got some great players. They've got a freshman All-ACC at quarterback and they've got a great running back."

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