October 17, 2013

O'Leary: Cards provide great opportunity

On what make Louisville Teddy Bridgewater such a hot NFL prospect:
"I tell you what, what he does is he has great poise which is the No. 1 thing for the NFL. He has good arm strength. Great awareness of coverage. He's a smart guy. You can tell. He knows where he's going with the ball before the snap. I think he's worked at the game. It's obvious when you watch him. People send in blitzes from every which way at him and he gets rid of the ball. He may take a hit, but he's getting rid of the ball for a completion. (Defenses may say) 'We got to him,' but you didn't get to him if it's a completion. That's what I talk about pressure. Pressure to me means when it's incomplete otherwise I don't call it a pressure. If it was pressure you wouldn't be able to complete the ball.

"He has those things you look for at the next level. Again, it's so difficult to play at that level up there as a true guy coming in. Everybody is so fast. The combination of the coverages you see, the tightness of the coverage. You can't throw it up. There's a small window with everything you throw in the pros. The guys who have the arm strength and some type of awareness, aware of where they're going with it. If you look at the NFL, those are the guys who are doing well. They have an idea and they put it in that small window for completions. That's what separates them from the other guys."

Louisville is converting 64 percent of third downs, on what has led to that:
"There's a lot like ourselves. They have very good receivers that catch everything you throw to them whether it's high, low, whatever, they catch it all. Plus, he puts it where they can catch it. Keeps it away from the defense. That's one thing that he does a good job he puts the ball where it needs to be. He doesn't just a throw a ball. He throws it where it needs to be so the receiver or the back can catch it. That's what he does well. I think he's very aware of down and distance. I don't think he tries to take a 40-yard play unless somebody is running by him. He's looking to move the chains. He understands he's throwing for the chains, a lot."

On Louisville's defense, who sacked Rutgers eight times and forced four interceptions:
"I think quarterback is holding on to the ball. Eventually somebody is going to get to you. When you're a quarterback, there's a clock going off in your head. After that clock hits, ding, ding, ding. You better get rid of the ball because all the good ones know something is coming. They get rid of the ball. They don't hold on to it. I think both of these guys, including Bortles, have the ability to make somebody miss which allows them more time to gather and they're both pretty good in space. Both teams are good scramble people as far as receivers are concerned. They just buy time for the good receivers to break into open areas. I think that's what's really unique about Teddy is he may get stuck in the pocket, but he'll roll out and buy time and then his vision is where it needs to be down field."

Whether he doesn't expect as much pressure vs. UCF:
"They're basically man-zone as far as their pressure. I think you've got to have some pre-reads about pressure. Basically, get in situations where... everybody has tendencies in football. Whether they're a boundary-pressure team, a field-pressure team, an up-the-middle pressure team. You've got to be aware of it. With every tendency, there's somebody showing it. You've got to be sharp. Both quarterbacks are fairly sharp as far as throwing it where you're not. That's what makes them a little different than everybody else."

On Louisville's run game:
"If you're just playing a team that throws it all the time, you could just be out there in dime and put your DBs out there. 32 (Senorise Perry) is a very good running back. 10, Dominique Brown is a good running back. They've got people up front that can carry the mail. You've got to have people on them. That's what makes them difficult. When you get a team that's one-sided, just runs or throws it, you can pretty much gang up on them. It's when they can do both fairly well is when you're a good offense. And they're a good offense."

Whether he sees this as a possible conference championship game:
"We've got a lot of games to play. I don't know. You play one game at a time. It's a great opportunity for UCF. And Louisville. Everybody is complaining about Louisville, but Louisville is winning the games they're supposed to win. They've got a schedule and they're doing what they need to be doing each week.

Again, they could beat a lot of teams in this country. I think like every other conference, I think we overrate a lot of conferences in this country. There's two or three, maybe four at best, in each conference that deserve the adoration they're getting. The rest are just teams."

Whether he puts Blake Bortles at the same level as Teddy Bridgewater:
"No. He's a year behind him as far as quarterback. I think Teddy has basically been a lot more productive. I'm saying as far as similar type traits. I think Teddy probably has the quicker trigger in getting rid of the ball while Blake is looking for that extra guy all the time instead of just taking what's there. And he's getting better at that. I think Teddy gets rid of the ball. You may pressure him and get a hit on him, but the ball is gone already. Or else he's good enough to step up and gain some ground and gain some time with his receivers making you miss."

If quarterbacks, when facing another good quarterback, whether they get more pumped up:
"I would think they do. Like any sport, you get pumped up. Like two centers in basketball. I think it's the same thing. Louisville, when you look at it, it's like any sport. Louisville is very strong up the middle. On defense, they're strong up in the middle with the safety back there, Pryor. And on offense, they're strong up the middle, with him, the RB. That's where you start. If you're strong up the middle you have a chance. You really do. I think that's what, in any sport, what I see with this team. They can run it and they can throw it. They can throw it very productively and they have some guys that can go get it."

Having played at Ohio State and Penn State, whether that makes this team more ready to go into a hostile environment:
"That's not a concern of mine. My concern is matchups and how we match it. I think you've got to tackle in space very well in this game. I think that's probably the key to the game. Tackling in space and limiting the hidden yardage. They're going to make completions. How much yards after the catch are they getting? You've got to limit that, just so you keep field control. But no. I think it's a loud place, like every stadium for a big game. We handled the loud games pretty well, but I'll have noise going at Tuesday and Wednesday practice. Just a little more concentration has to take place in that offensive huddle.

"It's like everything else. I think experience. Nothing beats experience in any sport because I think they've been through it before and if you've been through it before hopefully something registers as far as what it takes to win."

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