Gooden: "We are playing for our season"

University of Miami linebacker Tavares Gooden usually eats Pizza Hut, but Saturday afternoon against Louisville he looks to chomp down on some Papa John's when Miami rides up to face the No. 12 team in the country.

Underdogs for only the ninth time in the past six years, the ‘Canes are in need of a big time signature win over a good opponent after dropping the season opener to Florida State.

Gooden and his teammates know, one loss and the season is essentially lost in terms of the hopes, although distant, in playing for the National Championship, which is still a remote possibility because of the parody in college football this season.

"We are playing for our season," Gooden said.

Gooden though doesn't want to hear about the hype about Louisville's offense and how the Cardinals, in some people's minds, will steamroll Miami with their offensive juggernaut. Quarterback Brian Brohm is considered a Heisman Trophy candidate, and the Cardinals offense has been stellar against sub par competition so far this season, but has not faced an athletic and talented defense like Miami's yet this season.

"That's being a paper champion," Gooden said. "If you live off paper champions we would have already lost this game, but you have to go out there and play it, Miami versus Louisville."

Preparation is what will separate the ‘Canes though from the Cardinals this weekend in Gooden's opinion Two years ago, the Cardinals choked a 24-7 halftime lead away because they wilted away down the stretch while Miami got stronger and more confident.

"It's time we show what the U is all about," Gooden said. "Dedication is what the U is about. As long we handle our preparation and I think we'll be fine."

Gooden also chimed in on Louisville linebacker Nate Harris who has had choice words for the University of Miami this past week.

"Nate speaks from the heart, just like I speak from the heart," Gooden said. "Nate wanted to be here, but he couldn't be here. I know he's going to play his hardest game because he wants to compete against the best.

"Basically comes down to whoever makes the big plays. We came up short the first game of the season. Like I tell everyone else, it's all about winning. When I am in the gym shooting jump shots with my friend, I say again when I make it and that's what we have to do. We have to win again, again and again."

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at

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