BOZICH | Cards' bond remains Strong; remembering Florida upset - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Cards' bond remains Strong; remembering Florida upset

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WDRB) – Louisville and Georgia Belk Bowl goodies ($500 gift card with 20 percent shopping discount not included):

The bond between Charlie Strong's coaching staff and this University of Louisville football team remains, well, strong.

Several days before the Cardinals departed for the Belk Bowl, Louisville offensive lineman Jamon Brown received a phone call from the 512 area code.

It was former U of L defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, one of four assistant coaches who followed Strong from Louisville to Austin and the University of Texas last winter.

“Coach Bedford called me to congratulate me on graduating,” Brown said. “Coach Strong was around, too, so it ended up with me, John Miller, Reggie (Bonnafon), Keith Kelsey getting to talk to him.

“Coach Strong believed in me and supported me, and I'll always appreciate that.”

In fact, several U of L players said they planned to watch Strong's Texas team play Arkansas in the Texas Bowl Monday night. It was a long night for Strong and the Longhorns. Arkansas routed Texas, 31-7.

“We're going to most definitely support Coach Strong,” Brown said.

*Hat tip to the sharp thinkers in Las Vegas. The point spread for this game opened with Georgia listed as a 7 ½-point favorite on Dec. 8. It moved to Bulldogs by seven only 25 minutes later.

It has not moved again.

The line remains Bulldogs by seven.

If you believe in Jeff Sagarin's computer formula, you'd better give the points. Sagarin's numbers favor Georgia by 12.14 points.

Phil Steele, publisher of the popular Phil Steele College Football Yearbook, picked Georgia in his bowl confidence selections. Of the 38 bowl games, Steele ranked a Georgia victory 12th most likely to happen.

“They're a good team,” said Jake Smith, the Cards' senior offensive guard. “They have really good players. They've played some really good competition. We've played some really good competition.”

Smith said that two seasons ago Louisville was a 14 ½ point underdog against Florida, another Southeastern Conference power, in the Sugar Bowl.

Louisville 33, Florida 23.

“In Las Vegas usually the oddsmakers are pretty good,” Smith said. “But here in Louisville we're pretty good at defying the odds.”

*How many players on this Louisville team are likely to be invited to an NFL training camp next summer?

Brown believes at least a dozen – and perhaps as many as 15. Some drafted, others as free agents.

Brown and three of his teammates have been invited to play in the East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Jan. 17. DeVante Parker and Lorenzo Mauldin have earned invitations to the Senior Bowl, scheduled for Jan. 24 in Mobile, Ala. And Smith accepted an offer from the Medal of Honor Bowl in Charleston, S.C. Jan. 10.

“We've just got to make sure that we take care of business and we do everything that we're supposed to do so that the percentages and chances of that happening (getting to the NFL) are greater,” Brown said.

Parker figures to be Louisville's fourth first-round pick in two seasons.

*Teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference went 4-1 against SEC teams during the regular season.

Louisville beat Kentucky, Georgia Tech handled Georgia, Florida State defeated Florida and Clemson beat South Carolina.

The lone SEC victory was delivered by Georgia. The Bulldogs defeated Clemson, 45-21. Louisville lost at Clemson, 23-17.

One SEC-ACC bowl has been played – and South Carolina defeated Miami.

*I shared the news with U of L linebacker Keith Kelsey that the University of Michigan was about to give Jim Harbaugh a contract worth $48 or $49 million over six seasons to coach the Wolverines.

“How much?” Kelsey said.

Less than Nick Saban will soon be making, Keith.

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