ORLANDO -- Louisville coach Charlie Strong knows a good bowl matchup when he has one.
Strong’s No. 18 Cardinals (11-1), who face the Miami Hurricanes (9-3) on Saturday in the Russell Athletic Bowl, likes the idea of playing a team the Cards will face next season when they move into the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“We are playing a quality opponent,” Strong said Monday after his team had finished practicing at First Academy in Orlando. “It’s going to be a measuring stick at just how far we need to go and just how much better we need to get.”
Strong said the Cardinals focused on “first-and-10 and play action” on Monday. “It’s all about the game.”
When asked what he noticed about Miami, he spoke of the offense: “They have a very strong offensive line. Their wide receivers can really run and the quarterback does a good job of managing the offense.
“Defensively,” he added, “they don’t give up the big play and they will make you earn everything you get.”
But they do give up the big yards. The Hurricanes have allowed opponents to generate at least 500 yards of offense in five of their past seven games.
Injury wise, the coach said the Cards “have some nicks and bruises, but no one that should be out for this game.”
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville’s junior quarterback who graduated from Miami Northwestern High, reiterated Monday that he’ll wait until after the bowl game to make his decision on whether to declare early for the NFL Draft.
“There are things that are going to factor into that decision such as my personal goals and team goals,” said Bridgewater, who many believe will be the first quarterback taken in the draft should he decide to leave. “After this game I will evaluate everything and go from there.”
Bridgewater was asked whether he thinks he is ready for the NFL.
“Of course I do,” he said. “I feel that I’m ready, but I also feel that I’m not. It can go either way.”
In what areas does he feel he can improve?
“Just the little things. For one, I can get bigger. I’m not as heavy as I was last year, but I can attribute that to my mouth surgery. ... If I was 10 pounds heavier I could have more zip on my throws.”
The quarterback admitted that learning the Cardinals would play his hometown team in a bowl “was a huge wow factor.”
Said Bridgewater: “I grew up watching the Hurricanes, Florida State, Florida — all the Florida schools. It was very shocking. We do have the mindset that this is a big game because they are on our schedule next season.”