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October 16, 2013

Bortles ready to face Cards

Earlier this week, UCF quarterback Blake Bortles met with the media to talk about Friday's big American Athletic Conference matchup against the No. 8 Louisville Cardinals.

The game will feature two of the nation's best quarterbacks. UL's Teddy Bridgewater is being talked about as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate and is already high on the board for next year's NFL Draft. Like Bridgewater a year ago, Bortles is beginning to make a name for himself. On Wednesday, the Oviedo native was named as one of the 15 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

Big game on Friday. When you get a chance to match up vs. a quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater, is that an extra motivation to show you're just as elite as he is?

"Yeah, definitely. He's obviously a great player and they're obviously a great team. We're just looking forward to having the opportunity to play against them and share the field with them. My job is to execute our offense and move the ball and score points and put points on the board. I'm not necessarily playing against Teddy Bridgewater, but it is very cool to play against a quarterback of his caliber."

Do you similarities in the fact that some people didn't want Teddy to be a quarterback?

"I think so. It definitely speaks to his athletic ability if there were colleges willing to put him at other places. I'm sure he's thankful that he stayed playing quarterback."

All eyes are going to be on you guys on Friday night. What does that mean? You've been through it vs. Penn State and South Carolina.

"It will be huge. It's another big platform. National television. We couldn't be more excited. They're a great opponent. At the beginning of the year they were the pick to win the conference. It's definitely a big game for us because it's our next game and it's a conference game. We're very excited to play them."

Louisville has two highly-regarded safeties in Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith. What do they present defensively?

"They're great players. They're very good at what they do. Their defense is very good. And they do everything well. They're well coached. They tackle well. They run well. We're going to have to be very sharp in our gameplan to be able to execute."

This is game where you probably don't even need to talk about important it is. You know what's at stake. To win the conference, you probably have to win this one.

"Yeah, definitely. No doubt. It's going to be like that every week. Two weeks ago was a game we had to win. That's the approach we've got to take every week now being in conference. You can't have any letdowns. You've got to be sharp in executing our gameplan."

Was the Memphis game a wake-up call to begin the conference season?

"I think it was. We were fortunate to come out of there with a win, but a win is a win. I think it definitely sent a message that you can't go out there and not be on top of your game in this conference and get by easily with a win. You've got to be sharp with everything that you do in order to win in this conference."

How much did the bye week help you prepare for this game?

"It's definitely a huge help to have extra days preparing for an opponent. It's definitely going to help with everything that we do. You get more practice. You get more time to watch film. You get more time to analyze things . We were able to do that. We're excited and ready to go play."

Did you watch Louisville play Rutgers game last week?

"Yeah. Watched it live on TV. They are who we thought they were. They're a great team."

Last year at this time, Teddy Bridgewater wasn't a household name and wasn't a Heisman candidate. What he did last year sort of thrust him into the position to do that. Is that what you guys want to do this year leading into next year?

"Yeah. I hope so. That would be nice. We're just taking it one game at a time. He had a great year last year and they got a big win in the bowl game. That kind of set the stage for them this year. They've carried on what they've been doing. We just want to win a conference. That's our goal. We've got to take it one game at a time and try to achieve that goal."

If you win the conference, you're going to a BCS bowl.

"That's right. We know that. We know what the stakes are. That's our goal. It would be exciting if that were to happen. We've got to be sharp week in and week out to be able to make that happen."

Are you cognizant there's going to be a lot of pro scouts watching this game?

"You can't really pay attention to that. I'm sure there's somebody somewhere always watching us play. That's how you've got to think about it. You've got to keep focus and just stay on the football field. You can't worry about the things around you."

What do you expect to see out of the Louisville defense?

"I'm sure the same things they've been doing. They're a good strong defense. They do everything well. They don't have any weaknesses. Like I said, that's why we're going to have to be sharp in what we do in order to move the ball."



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