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The case for
Teddy Bridgewater, a junior, returns as one of the top passers in the country after racking up 3,718 yards, 27 touchdowns and a 68.5% completion rate in 2012. Bridgewater and the Cardinals, long dogged for their inferior résumé—they move to the ACC next season—trampled heavily favored Florida in last season's Sugar Bowl 33--23, kicking off a surge of momentum that carried into spring practice. There's talent on offense aside from Bridgewater: junior DeVante Parker and senior Damian Copeland headline a skilled receiving corps, while transfer running back Michael Dyer, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher at Auburn, adds a spark to the ground game.
The defense has nine returning starters from the unit that had three sacks and forced three turnovers against the Gators. The unit struggled with consistency last year—especially in head-scratching losses to Syracuse and UConn—but experience should help alleviate that problem.
The case against
Center Mario Benavides and left tackle Alex Kupper were two mainstays on the line who won't be easy to replace. How Jake Smith handles his move from right guard to center and Jamon Brown his switch from right tackle to left will go a long way toward determining the Cardinals' success.
How much of the program's success can be traced to recruiting in Florida?