Sugar Bowl notebook: Sunday's nuggets

Mario Benavides

NEW ORLEANS - The University of Louisville went through another day of preparation for the Allstate Sugar Bowl and Cardinal Authority has a complete notebook of items from the day, including two practice videos.

BEDFORD TALKS ABOUT ‘THE TRAIN'

University of Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bedford was asked about his statement about "getting on the train," referring to his preseason news conference speech prior to the 2011 season.

Bedford, who isn't of fan of being in the public eye doing media interviews, started to shrug off the question and then said, "We'll we're sitting here in New Orleans right? I think it's rolling pretty good."

The Cardinals are in a bowl for the third straight season – all three under head coach Charlie Strong – and will face Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2, marking just the school's second BSC bowl berth.

"It's heading in the right direction," Bedford said of the train. "We have the young talent. We are a junior-sophomore team. You are talking about a young football team so the future is ahead of us.

"I think the future is going to be outstanding."

The "train" statement took on a life of its own after Bedford made the comments to the local media. The school used billboards and had video slogans made with parts of the speech. Several players were asked about it on Sunday.

"We laughed at it because a lot of people created funny things about it," safety Hakeem Smith said. "But it opened our eyes that we're in a great situation here. Having everybody be on the train with us all the way through, it excites me."

"I jumped aboard real quickly."

O-LINE COACH ELATED WITH SEASON

One of the strengths of the U of L team this season has been the offensive line where three players – Mario Benavides, Alex Kupper and Jake Smith – have started every game of the season.

John Miller missed two games and Jamon Brown one with injuries. But the Cardinals have averaged 127.1 yards a game and have several times had both Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry – who is now injured – both over 100 yards.

"We've had some ups and downs," line coach Dave Borberly said. "We could have been a little more consistent but the bottom line is we won 10 games. For such a young group (on the line), they were pretty good."

Kupper and Benavides are both seniors and have combined for 81 career starts. Smith has started all 25 games in his career and is a sophomore, along with Miller and Brown. Freshman Nacho Garcia has seen a lot of time late in the season.

"The line has done a super job," offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. "Having two guys like Mario and Kupper is great from a leadership standpoint. Those guys have been very good this season for us."

RED AND BLACK GROWING IN NOLA

There was a noticeable spike in U of L fans on Sunday.

The school said there are still tickets left in the 17,500 allotment but there are already a ton of U of L fans in the New Orleans area.

One fan on Bourbon Street said, "There's going to be more than there was for the Final Four in April. And that means there will be a lot of red and black."

INJURY UPDATE

The media was allowed in 15 minutes of practice on Sunday and there wasn't a ton of time to check out every player who was or wasn't playing.

But it appeared senior wide receiver Scott Radcliff was wearing a yellow jersey – not to be hit in contact drills – because of an injury.

Tight end Ryan Hubbell also appeared not to be practicing because of knee injury.

ON TAP FOR MONDAY

U of L defensive end Marcus Smith said on Sunday the "curfews are earlier and it's time to just focus on the game," for the Cardinals.

The team will practice again on Monday afternoon in the Superdome and will have plenty of meeting and film work throughout the day.

The U of L team did have a bowling outing on Saturday.

There are no press conferences on Monday but media is allowed to watch the first 15 minutes of the U of L practice. Charlie Strong and Will Muschamp will both have news conferences on Tuesday morning.

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