Cubicle Warrior’s Preview of the 2013 Sugar Bowl: #3 Florida Gators vs. #22 Louisville Cardinals

Sugar Bowl 2013: Florida vs Louisville

Sugar Bowl 2013: Florida vs Louisville

  • Sugar Bowl 2013: #3 Florida Gators (11-1, 7-1 SEC) versus #21 Louisville Cardinals (10-2, 5-2 Big East). Allstate Sugar Bowl, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana.  January 2, 2013 at 7:30 PM CST. Betting line: -13.5, Florida. The Gators look to assert their return to power. After their 24-17 Gator Bowl victory over “the team up North”, Gator head coach Will Muschamp rallied his troops in the locker room and told them that he does not want them to forget the frustrations of losing games they should have won. Muschamp used that pain of losing to focus the Gators–“[the Florida Gators] are not a 7-6 program”. Coach Muschamp reinvigorated the mighty Gators as they laid waste to four BCS top ten teams. All that stands before them and validation of their return to power are the Louisville Cardinals, led by former Gator coach Charlie Strong
  • Gator scouting report: The mighty Gators have turned around from 3-5 in the SEC to 7-1 in year 2 of the Muschamp Era. The Gators were just one fumble away from playing for the SEC title and possibly the national title. Look for the Gators to come out fired up. The Gators will swamp the Cardinals with the nation’s #3 defense, a defense that only yields 12.9 points per game. They also bring in the #35 rushing offense in the nation, with 194.1 yards per game. The Gator winning formula is simple: run left, run right, run middle… make field goals. with the #3 kicker in the nation… flip the field with #6 punter in the nation… stuff the run with the #6 run defense in the nation… and enforce the #1 “no fly zone” this side of the Middle Eastern war zones.
  • Key players to watch: RB Mike Gillislee – the workhorse of the Gator rushing attack also has Matt Jones to back him up, DB Matt Elam – this All American hard hitter wants to put someone to sleep.
    • Passing: Jeff Driskel – 140-216, 1471 yds, 11 tds (#56 in FBS pass efficiency, #96 total offense)
    • Rushing: Mike Gillislee – 235 car, 1104 yds, 10 tds (#42 in FBS)
    • Receiving: Jordan Reed – 44 rec, 552 yds, 3 tds (NR in FBS)
    • Tackles: Josh Evans – 6.58 tackles per game (34 assists, 45 solo, 4 TFL, 2 sacks)
    • Tackles for loss: Shariff Floyd – 0.92 per game (#99 in FBS)
    • Interceptions: Matt Elam – 0.33 per game (#30 in FBS), Jaylen Watkins – 0.25 per game (#78)
  • Gator bait scouting report: Former Gator defensive coordinator and head coach during the 2004 Peach Bowl, Charlie Strong, will have his work cut out for him. His number one offensive weapon, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater needs to heal from his ankle injury, or at least close enough to give his Cardinals a fighting chance against the Gators. The Cardinals have the nation’s #19 pass defense, but that will not help much against the run-happy Gators who bring in the #119 pass offense. The Cardinals #52 run defense yields over 150 yards per game. The passing offense is a very respectable #24 in the nation, but it is going up against the Gator no fly zone. On offense, the Cardinals look like Tennessee, at least in terms of statistical rankings. In terms of style of play, the Cardinals offense will look somewhat like a cross between FSU and TAMU. On defense, the Cardinals look like TAMU, at least in terms of statistical rankings. In terms of style of play, I would say that the Cardinals look like FSU on defense.
  • Key Gator bait to watch: QB Teddy Bridgewater and KR/CB Adrian Bushell. Adrian was part of the vaunted 2008 Gator recruiting class before he transferred to Charleston Southern, then to Louisville to rejoin the coach that recruited him. He was also roommates with Gator WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. Teddy went to football camp with Gator QB Jeff Driskel. In camp, they both spoke of being Gator fans as kids.
    • Passing: Bridgewater – 267-387, 3452 yds, 25 tds (#8 in FBS, #25 total offense)
    • Rushing: Jeremy Wright – 186 car, 740 yds, 9 tds; Senorise Perry – 135 car, 739 yds, 11 tds
    • Receiving: Devante Parker – 38 rec, 712 yds, 9 tds (#99 rec per game); Damian Copeland – 48 rec, 597 yds, 1 td; Eli Rogers – 42 rec, 443 yds, 4 tds
    • Tackles – Preston Brown (#84 in FBS); Calvin Pryor (#97 in FBS)
    • Kick returns – Adrian Bushell (19.59 ypa, #89 in FBS)
  • By the numbers:
    • Gators rushing offense vs Cardinals rushing defense: 194 ypg (#35) vs 151 ypg (#50). +Gators
    • Gators passing offense vs Cardinals passing defense: 144 ypg (#114) vs 127 ypg (#49). +Cardinals
    • Gators scoring offense vs Cardinals scoring defense: 27 ppg (#74) vs 24 ppg (#36). +Cardinals
    • Gators rushing defense vs Cardinals rushing offense: 97 ypg (#6) vs 127 ypg (#98). ++Gators
    • Gators passing defense vs Cardinals passing offense: 92 ypg (#1) vs 298 ypg (#23). ++Gators
    • Gators scoring defense vs Cardinals scoring offense: 13 ppg (#3) vs 31 ppg (#49). ++Gators
    • Gators turnover margin vs Cardinals turnover margin: 1.42 TPG (#5) vs 0.75 TPG (#21). +Gators
    • Gators X-factor vs Cardinals X-factor: Gators line of scrimmage vs Cardinals discipline. +push
  • Prediction: This will be a first-half scoring game as both defenses will clamp down in the second half. If the Gators can beat down the Cardinals in the trenches on both sides of the ball, the Cardinals may not score in the second half. 21-10, Gators. If you are betting on the game, I would not bet on the spread. There is a chance that the Cardinals can pull off the upset, but it would depend on the Gators committing turnovers.
  • In summary: the Gators specialize in rushing AND passing defense, which makes them an elite scoring defense. The Gators have handled similar type teams. The X-factor will be who plays more disciplined ball, since it is a foregone conclusion that Florida will own the line of scrimmage.
  • Postscript: Congratulations to the Louisville Cardinals, winners of the 2013 All-State Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, 33-23. The Cardinals capitalized on a Gator turnover just 15 seconds into the game when Driskel’s pass bounced out of Quinton Dunbar’s hands on the first pass of the game. The game was all downhill from there. The Gators had no answer for Bridgewater, and their run defense failed them at pivotal moments.
    • First downs: 23-17, Louisville
    • Total yards: 336-286 yds, Louisville
    • Passing: 266-175 yds, Louisville
    • Rushing: 70-111, Florida
    • Penalties: 2/25-9/98, Louisville
    • Turnovers: 1-3, Louisville
    • TOP: 35:37-24:23, Louisville
  • Final note: Yes, it sucks to lose big games, but the Gators finished the season 11-2 and probably were underwhelmed at being left out of the national title game (not that they would have fared much better against a top-five BCS team).

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