Strong Believes in Giving Dyer Another Chance
During Charlie Strong's tenure as head coach of the Cardinals, he has been a mentor and a father figure to many players. He illustrated that Monday when he officially welcomed former Auburn running back Michael Dyer to the fold. Named the Most Valuable Player in the 2011 BCS title game, Dyer sat out almost two seasons because of personal issues, but Strong decided to give Dyer another opportunity. With compelling recommendations from a number of people, including long-time friend and president of Arkansas Baptist, Fitz Hill, Strong felt comfortable putting his stamp of approval on the second-chance opportunity for Dyer.
"It depends on relationships," Strong said. "I think about my first year here. People talk about core values and core values are the foundation of this football team. They will never change and I will never change. And if I was going to judge everyone on just core values, then I would never have had my first year here; I wouldn't have had a football team, plus I'm not one of those coaches that go in and try to run every player off."
In two seasons at Auburn, Dyer was one of the nation's elite running backs. In 2011, Dyer scampered for 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns, while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. That season, Dyer totaled six 100-yard games, including 177 yards versus Mississippi and 151 and 150 in games versus Clemson and Mississippi State, respectively.
Strong has had plenty of examples of providing student-athletes with the chance to be productive citizens after failing. The head coach made note of the fact that former player Darius Ashley (a two-time DUI offender) stayed in school and finished his degree and is enrolled in a master's program. He also noted the positive impact the program had on Brandon Heath and Johnny Patrick, two players who had trouble when Strong arrived in December of 2009.
Strong said of Dyer, "I can't change his past, but I hope to help shape his future."
Bridgewater Shines in ESPN Appearances
Junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater ran the gamut of interviews on the ESPN Campus last Monday. Making 14 different stops on shows, including five SportsCenter hits, Bridgewater put his character and personality on display for the entire nation, and made a ton of new fans, including his head coach Charlie Strong.
"In a summer filled with negative headlines across the country, seeing Teddy Bridgewater on ESPN was a breath of fresh air," Strong said.
Cardinals Solid on Defensive Line Despite Losses
When Strong took over the program, the long-time defensive coordinator would have been faced with quite a challenge to survive the loss of two defensive linemen in the preseason. Opening his fourth camp, Strong must find replacements for tackles DeAngelo Brown and Jamaine Brooks. Brown is out for the season with an Achilles injury, while Brooks will return in October.
"It all starts in the middle," Strong said. "Right now, we are down. We are down with Brooks and DeAngelo Brown at the nose guard position. At defensive ends, you have (Lorenzo) Mauldin, you have (Marcus) Smith and you have (Deiontrez) Mount. Inside you have (Roy) Philon and Brandon Dunn. So, we have enough players inside. We have a good corps of defensive linemen that is just more about us moving them around and having to replace those guys early in the season and hope that they can get back late to help us to go make a run."
Offensive Line Must Find Replacements
Once again, Louisville's success will depend largely in part upon its offensive line and finding replacements for center Mario Benavides and tackle Alex Kupper. Benavides was one of the most consistent centers in the history of the program, while Kupper closed his career by starting 26-straight games.
"Right now we don't know about the center position," Strong said. "It's either going to be Jake Smith or Kamran Joyer at center. If Jake can play center, then Kamran will play guard. If Joyer is at center, then Smith will play guard, but we will keep Miller at guard."
The Cardinals will conduct their annual fan day on Sunday, Aug. 18, from noon to 2:30 p.m. on the concourse of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.