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FB: Cards Ready to Take on BC; Face Top 10 Rushing Offense

The University of Louisville football team faces a stiff challenge this weekend, when it will travel to Chestnut Hill, Mass. to take on Boston College for a road clash with an Atlantic Coast Conference foe.

Having now moved passed their 42-31 loss to No. 2 Florida State last Thursday, the Cardinals (6-3, 4-3 ACC) are gearing up for a battle with an Eagles team that is much improved since the hiring of head coach Steve Addazio two seasons ago. With wins over USC and North Carolina State under their belt in 2014, the Eagles (6-3, 3-2 ACC) picked up a two-point win on the road at Virginia Tech last Saturday.

 In full-on preparation mode, Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and junior defensive back Jermaine Reve took time to speak with the media after Wednesday evening's practice. The pair discussed fielded questions on a number of topics, highlighting their respect for the Eagles along the way.

 The meeting, which will mark the seventh between the schools, is slated for a 7:15 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, with an ESPN2 broadcast set. The series between the Cards and Eagles is tied 3-3 heading into the weekend.


Moving Forward

With the tough loss to the defending national champions now in the rear view mirror, the Cardinals are fully focused on their impending trip to Chestnut Hill. Despite surrendering a season-high for yards (574) and points (42) to the Seminoles, the Cardinals haven't been shaken, and are fully aware of what it takes to keep it from happening again.

 "We (can) keep that from carrying on, it's just motivation," defensive back Jermaine Reve said Wednesday. "We've seen how well we can play. We've seen how good we can be in one half, and we've seen ourselves not play up to our potential in the second half."

 Rather than harping on the negative, Reve and the rest of the Cardinals defense, which ranks sixth in the country in terms of total defense, are using the experience as motivation and an opportunity to learn. 

 "It all comes from dedication. So it's a testament for our defense, to come out and respond and show that we really are the best defense (in the nation.)"

 The head of the unit, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham echoed that sentiment, stating that the team must be able to learn, but move forward.

 "Getting to where we want to go, you have to go through the tough times and you have to be able to handle that and move on," Grantham said.

"It's another week this week, we have a very talented team we are going to face that gives you some challenges with what they do offensively. We understood that we have to turn our focus to them and get ready to play a team that is on a roll right now."


These Eagles Fly on the Ground

Boston College presents a new challenge for the Cardinals this week; a team heavily predicated on running the football. Averaging 274.9 yards per game on the ground this season, the Eagles are the nation's No. 9 rushing offense. What the team is able to do on the ground is responsible for the bulk of 406.6 offensive yards they post per week.

"You have to make sure you all are on the same page, communication is important," Grantham said of preparing for a physical, run-first team like Boston College. 

"You have to be physical up front in the run game, you have to set edges, you have to understand your gap fits and where your help is inside, outside those kind of things."

Lucky for the Cardinals, they've been stout against the run through their nine contests this season. Ranking third in the nation in rushing defense, the Cards are allowing opponents just 78.7 yards per game, and have allowed only three rushing scores all season.

What sets the Eagles apart, though, is their ability to run the ball from the quarterback position. Graduate quarterback, and former Florida Gator, Tyler Murphy is the Eagles' leading rusher in 2014, having racked up 965 yards and nine scores on the ground, all while averaging more than seven yards per rush.

"When the quarterback is a runner, it becomes truly 11-on-11 and if you don't fit it right you can create a seam in your defense," Grantham said. "That is how they have been getting those long runs with the quarterback."

A focus for the Cardinals in their preparation this week has been preventing the big play, which can come naturally to a team that can successfully run the ball.

"One of the main challenges is just keeping your eyes on your man," Reve said of facing a run-first offense.

"If you don't keep your eyes on your man, you could give up a big play. Teams like that, that run the ball every play, they can play-action out of nowhere for a big play. So it's our responsibility to keep our eyes on our responsibility."


Play-Making Secondary Wants Everyone to Feel the Love

Through nine games, it's become quickly apparent that the Cardinals possess one of the most dangerous secondaries in all of college football.  

With 18 interceptions in 2014, only Mississippi has picked off opposing quarterbacks as many times as Louisville. Outside of taking the ball away, the secondary has made its hay being solid on a down-to-down basis. The Cards rank sixth in team passing efficiency defense, and have allowed 201.9 passing yards per game.

With safety Gerod Holliman's nation-leading ten interceptions, and the three a piece that linebacker James Burgess and safety James Sample have chipped in, it'd be easy for the Cardinals to get greedy. But as Reve stated Wednesday, that's not the case.

"We're kind of chatty and play around with each other about it, but that's not our main priority," Reve said. "Our main priority is to do your job in this defense. If everyone does their job, we all look good. That's something that we all care about. We want everyone to look good."

"We just motivate each other. We all want to look good on defense. We play for each other, and that's how we do it."

FB: Petrino Transcript from Oct. 27

Coach Bobby Petrino

(Opening Statement)

"We're excited about the game. I'm happy with the way our players are preparing for it. We've had a couple of good practices this week. We did a good job Saturday morning when we came in and worked. So obviously they're excited about the game. It's something we're looking forward to, going out and performing and playing hard."

(On what Will Gardner's focus should be going into the Florida State game)"He just needs to focus on executing the offense, you know. I think he's done a real nice job in practice and in the meeting room, understanding what looks we expect to see. You know, you're always going to see something new as a quarterback, but we're working hard on the looks we're expecting to see. And he just needs to go in focused and go through his progressions and execute the offense. And he's very capable of doing that. He's got to do it consistently with all 11 guys, really."

 (On if Gardner seems more consistent)
"Yeah. He's had a good week at practice. He's snapping the ball and throwing well, so he's done a good job. You know, I think he's looked sharp here in the last couple of weeks...obviously it's fun to have DeVante [Parker] back out there. You know, I felt like coming out of the last game against North Carolina State, that was the closest we've looked to our offense...to do the things we like to do on our offense."

 (On how the bye week has helped Parker)
"Yeah, he's looked really good yesterday and today...two weeks ago...going into the North Carolina State game, you saw glimpses of it and [thought], 'Okay, how much is he going to be able to go out there and how well is he going to perform?' Obviously he went way above our expectations in that game. But the last couple of days, he's really looked back to himself and really exploded after the catches, you know. It feels a lot better for him. You can see that, and he's also said that."

 (On having James Quick and Lorenzo Mauldin back healthy)
"They've all practiced the last two games, so we feel good about them both being out there ready to go."

  (On the game plan for Florida State)
"Well, you know, when you look at their offense, they're very balanced. They can run the ball, throw it, throw it deep. So obviously you first have to stop the run. The most important part of the defense is to stop the run and try to make them get behind the sticks. And then we're going to have to be able to tight coverage and rush the quarterback. He's a different guy to tackle and bring down, so we have to have discipline in our lanes [and] mix things up. That's our thing. We've been good at doing that. We've got to just go play our defense. That's the biggest thing."

 (On who Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston reminds Petrino of )
"I mean, they're all different. You know, real good players. [Winston] has a real quick release. He makes good decisions. He's very decisive with his decision making. So it's going to be important for us to really be good with the coverage and be tight on the coverage. Put pressure on him. Not let him have the good passing lanes."

 (On who will be starting in the backfield)
"Oh, you know, we've got another day of practice, so we'll worry about that after our Thursday practice which actually is, what, Tuesday this week. So, yeah, we'll just go practice and see how they all do."

 (On the health of the Louisville players)
"Yeah, [Brandon] Radcliff is back going full speed, which is great to see. He's had an issue with his toe that's bothered him on and off. He's back there competing hard. Dom [Brown] looks good. Michael[lee Harris] looks even better than he did before the North Carolina State game. L.J.'s [Scott] ankle is better, so we're getting back healthy where we need to be."

 (On how he's approaching the game)
"Yeah, I mean, they all understand what the stakes are, but what I really want them to do is enjoy it, you know. Enjoy the experience of having the No. 2 team in the country coming in here. How you go through preparing for it. How you get ready. When we go to the hotel and just enjoy the whole experience. But all our routines and everything we go through are the same, you know. We're not changing anything. We're not trying to do anything extra. We just go through our preparation and get ready for kickoff. I think that's the number one thing we've got to do, is calm down and understand, you know, we need to be ready when we kick the ball off. Not tomorrow. Not Wednesday. When kickoff's here. And I think with the experience and opening the season with Miami, all those things help us."

 (On controlling the excitement of the players)
"I think they're pretty good about it. I think with the experienced team that we have, and the fact that they've played in big games. The opening game of the year was a big game for us, so you just kind of go back and go through your routine. You learn how to relax and get yourself ready for kickoff."  

 (On if the excitement of the players regarding playing a top five team is different now than in the past)
"Yeah, it's different. You now, obviously the intensity, the focus, practice, is better. Guys are excited about it, they're all working hard out there. But again, it's just getting into your routine and working and knowing how to prepare for a game."

 (On if the atmosphere will be the "craziest" it's been all season)
"I was going to say it would be hard to be hard to be crazier, but I once said it would be hard to be louder, and I don't want to get into any of that. So let's just say it's going to be real, real crazy."

 (On FSU's defense)
"They're very physical up front. They've got two big guys inside and they do a good job in their secondary with their coverage. They don't do a lot but they do it real well. On third down, they do a lot. The biggest thing for us is to be able to execute and be able to convert third downs. If we're doing that, I feel like we'll have some success."

 (On the focus of the defense)
"To play one play at a time. That's a great point. You've got to be able to play one play at a time. The whole team does. We have to understand that when you're in games like this, the momentum swings back and forth. They've got great players, they're going to make plays. We're going to make plays. The most important play is the next one. To be able to focus and to be able to concentrate on doing your job on the next play."

 (On the offensive line)
"We've gotten better. We've been more consistent with our assignment. We're using our technique better. We've been finishing better. We've had two good weeks of practice."

 (On FSU's ability to win close games)
"There's not a big difference between winning and losing, and they know how to win. They've got guys in the program who have got confidence in coming from behind. So you have to learn how to win. Obviously they know how to do that. We have to be in the game in the fourth quarter, and have an opportunity to win it in the fourth quarter. I believe our guys will be confident in the fact we'll get it done then."

 (On if the injuries the team experienced made for a scramble)
"Most definitely. It was kind of a scramble mode. We had guys dropping and different guys in there. I think our guys handled it well. I thought when we had to have a change at quarterback that everyone rallied around Reggie (Bonnafon) and he handled it very maturely and we were able to win a couple games with him as the starting quarterback. He did a nice job for us. We've had different running backs in there, and without DeVante (Parker). So it's nice to have all our weapons back. Hopefully we'll go out and show that we know how to execute with them."

 (On DeVante Parker's return)
"You know, he's amazing, really. Most guys would have been down right away and real disappointed. He had a good attitude from the start. He showed really good maturity, worked extremely hard with our medical staff and hit the target dates that they had set for when you get to run, when you get to do this, when you get to that, and just stayed with a great mental attitude the whole time. He had a little setback when he first came back and thought we might get him ready for the Clemson game, I guess. But after that he just stayed at it. It's amazing how positive a person he is."

 (On what a win over FSU, the defending national champions, would mean)
"These are the games we want to play in and compete in. We'd like to be in the top rankings and have the No. 1 team come in here and play us. That's where we're aspiring to go. So we'll look at our program and get one step closer to where we want to get to."

FB: Cards Home For NC State; Focus Has Been on Defense

Cards Focus on Defense
Seven games into the 2014 season, the conversation surrounding the University of Louisville football is slightly different from what most may have expected. With offensive-minded head coach Bobby Petrino returning to the helm of the program, the consensus was that the Cardinals would be a team loaded with offensive firepower, lighting up the scoreboard at a rapid clip and filling box scores with eye-popping numbers.

Instead, the conversation has revolved around the Cards' dominant defense. Each week, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's unit is giving more validity to the argument that the 2014 edition of the Cardinals defense might be the best in program history. With a record of 5-2, the Cards are first in the nation in total defense, allowing opponents an average on 230.7 yards of offense per game, and in rushing defense, yielding opponents an average of 60.3 yards on the ground each time out. Against the pass, the pass, the Cardinals are second in the nation in pass efficiency defense, first in passes intercepted (14), and eleventh in pass defense.

 In full preparation mode for their upcoming meeting with N.C. State this weekend, a few Cardinals took time after Wednesday afternoon's practice to speak with the media. Grantham, along with defensive backs Charles Gaines and Jermaine Reve chatted about their performance thus far and a host of other topics.

With so much talk about the dominance the defensive unit has displayed throughout the first half of the season, it would be easy for Grantham and his players to get complacent. According to the man himself, though, that has not been the case.

"We've got room to improve. We've got a lot of ball games left," Grantham said.

 "The thing of it is, we've got to take each week because each week's a new challenge. Each week's a new week from the standpoint of the team you're playing is a little different in what they do. So you've got to understand the nuances of that offense and how you've got to stop them. We just have to take it week by week and work to play our best every Saturday"

 According to senior defensive end/outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, the team has not only continued to work, but has stayed on an upward trajectory.

 "I feel like we get better each week," Mauldin said Wednesday. "We face different teams that run different things, so we just adjust to what they give us. Being able to go out on the field and excel even more than we did in practice, I feel that we get way better."

 As far as rankings, Grantham is simply concerned with what his team does on the field weekly, and this week, the Cardinals face an N.C. State team with an offense that has 40 points four times in thus far in 2014.

 "Honestly, I just want to win another game," Grantham said. "We have a conference game at home. It's really about wins and we want to make sure that we can do our part and play to our potential and help our team win. That's been our focus, executing the game plan to win the game."

Gaines in Shutdown Mode

His statistics may be a bit misleading, but junior defensive back Charles Gaines has been the definition of a shutdown cornerback this season.

 Through seven games, the third-year man out of Miami, Fla. has totaled just ten tackles. For those watching, though, this is not due to a lack of aggressiveness on the part of Gaines. Instead, it can be attributed to the fear he's placed into the minds of opposing quarterbacks, who haven't dared to throw the ball in his direction.

 "No. I just stay humble. I do my job," Gaines said Wednesday, when asked if it's frustrating not having the ball thrown to his man. "If a team is not looking to throw at me, that means the other players can make plays."

 Gaines looks at the job he's done blanketing receivers as freeing factor for others on the unit. In no small part, Gaines' lockdown job has helped the Cards grab a nation-leading 14 interceptions, and 24 sacks, the third-highest total in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

 "It's a blessing that I have an opportunity to shut down one side of the field. It gives our safeties, our linebackers, and most of all our D-line an opportunity to make plays and get to the quarterback."

 When he has been thrown at, though, Gaines has quickly reinforced the poor quality of that decision. After leading the team in interceptions last season five, Gaines has snagged one pick this season (in the team's 66-21 win over Murray State), and has been credited for seven passes defensed.


Reve Back for Defense
The Louisville defense received great news before last week's trip to Clemson, when it was informed that junior defensive back Jermaine Reve would be available for action. In his first action since rehabbing a torn ACL, Reve provided the Cardinals defense with a big boost in the 23-17 loss to the Tigers, totaling five tackles, two tackles for a loss, and a sack.

"It's exciting just to be back out there with my brothers," Reve said. "It's just a blessing to be back. When you go through all the hard work to be back out there. When your teammates are playing well, you want to get out there and join them, just contribute to the team. I'm excited to be back."

 Since his redshirt freshman season in 2012, Reve has been a steady contributor for the Cards. As a redshirt freshman, the Miami, Fla. native totaled 32 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and a sack for the 11-2 Allsate Sugar Bowl champions. Last season, Reve started five games, and notched a season-high four tackles in a win over Connecticut.

 "We didn't have him because he got hurt early in the spring, but it's a great example of a guy very determined about getting back on the field," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said.

 "He did everything from a rehab standpoint to be ready early. He was always in the meetings studying, so he knew our system, he knew what to do. He was a big part of us being able to make the switch with putting (defensive back, Terell) Floyd back outside. You can credit him with helping us play well last week."

 While the production he's provided since his return has been apparent, fellow defensive back Charles Gaines has pointed to Reve's leadership as a major help.

 "Reve, he's a communicator. He likes to read body language," Gaines said of his teammate. "So if I come out there and have a sluggish practice, he's going to let me know about myself. I feel like he's a big brother to the defense. He's going to keep me hungry. When I see his energy and I see him trying to make a play, it just makes me want to make more plays."

FB: Reve Returns to Lineup; Cards Hold Top Spot

Jermaine Reve Returns to Action
Junior safety Jermaine Reve returned to the field this past Saturday after sitting out the first six games of the season due to injury. Reve, who tore his ACL this past winter, returned after six months of rehab and recover

"He is even ahead of schedule from what we thought," head coach Bobby Petrino said. "All through the rehab Kyle kept telling me Jermaine is working so hard, doing so well and we might have him this year for the second half of the season. We check in on him a couple weeks later and he said that he has progressed and he is actually further ahead than he was."

Reve came back with a bang against Clemson, recording five solo tackles. Two of his tackles were for a loss, one of which was a sack. He added to a Louisville defense that is currently No. 1 in the nation.

"His attitude and work ethic are the reasons he is back at this time, he is ahead of where we thought he would be," Petrino explained.

Last season, Reve played in all 13 games, recording a total of 23 tackles including 2.5 tackles for loss.

Cardinals Continue Season with Two Quarterback
Redshirt sophomore Will Gardner and freshman Reggie Bonnafon have both started games this season and at the moment will both continue to play for the remainder of the season.

Both quarterbacks saw playing time during the Clemson game this past weekend. Bonnafon, who started the game, went 5-13, while Gardner finished out the game, going 10-16 and tossing one touchdown.

"(Clemson) did some really good things as far as stopping our run, with their line movements and jamming the inside, gave Reggie some good looks in the option game that he had done a great job of against Syracuse," head coach Bobby Petrino said. "They kind of took it away with the things they did. When they do that, you've got to be able to throw the ball. That was one of the reasons we made the change."

Petrino explained that he made sure to discuss the switch with his offensive coaching staff during the game.

"We talked about it at halftime and we felt that coming out of halftime that we should get (Bonnafon) moving around, run some of our play-action, some of our movement game and let him run the ball a little bit," he said. "Sometimes with a quarterback that has great instincts to run the ball, once you get his blood flowing and he runs and makes some plays running then that helps him in the passing game."

Petrino has not yet announced who will start on Saturday against NC State, but he has confidence in whoever is on the field.

Cards' Defense Best in the Nation

The University of Louisville defense, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the country, has not allowed an opponent to score an offensive touchdown over the past 17 quarters. The Cards' defense has recorded 24.0 sacks for 196 yards lost and 14 interceptions for 153 yards and a touchdown.

"We put in hard work and sacrifices on the off season to get to where we're at," sophomore linebacker Keith Kelsey said. We believe in what coach (Todd) Grantham installed in us, and we just want to execute it."

Grantham, who came to Louisville after working for four years as Georgia's defensive coordinator, has a large influence on both how the defense plays and thinks about the game.

"No one really expected us to be where we are right now, so it really just gave us more motivation to go out there and prove a lot of people wrong," Kelsey said. "We're just surprising a lot of people and there's still a lot of work to be done."

Despite the No.1 ranking and the fact that they haven't given up a touchdown since the loss at Virginia, the defensive players are staying humble.

"We don't really pay attention to [the touchdown drought]," he explained. "Coach Grantham might mention it to us after a game or something. Right now I think it's 17 quarters, and we're just trying to keep that streak alive and just play hard."  

Penalties Plaguing Louisville Offense

The Cardinals' offense was penalized multiple times for false starts in the loss at Clemson. A major factor in that was the crowd noise, however it is something that Louisville must adjust to as a new member of the ACC.

 It was a loud place but again it comes down to everybody else plays in the loud stadiums," coach Petrino explained. "We have to focus and concentrate and be able to not have the same person continually get us those penalties."

 Quarterback Will Gardner also weighed in on the conversation of the multiple offensive penalties.

 "I know a lot of it had to do with me coming in, and he was doing things different with the cadence, so I had to come over and we had to get that thing situated," he said. "A lot of that had to do with the quarterback's fault, so I'll take blame for that in there at the end."

 Gardner also understands that large crowds will be a norm in the Cardinals' upcoming games.

 "Each and every game is going to count right here," he said. "We go to Notre Dame and different places, we're going to get a chance to play in big crowds and play in front of big atmospheres and different things like that. So I think guys are excited about that."

Gaines Major Focus for Opposing Offenses
Redshirt junior cornerback Charles Gaines is a major defensive threat for the Cardinals, something Louisville's opponents have noticed since last season. In 2013, Gaines led the team with five interceptions and 106 return yards. This year, Gaines only has one interception.

 "(Gaines) does a really nice job in the tight coverage, and the best thing about when he has tight coverage is that pass rush doesn't give him a lot of time to get the ball on that side," Petrino explained. "He has done a great job, he is a good player and he almost had a nice pick the other night, a couple of them. So he is right there and he has great hands."

 Coach Petrino made the observation that Gaines hasn't recorded as many interceptions because opposing quarterbacks haven't thrown the ball in his direction.

 "The more he can get his hands on the ball, the more picks he is going to get," Petrino said.


FB: Cardinals Travel to Clemson to Face High-Powered Offense

The University of Louisville football team is in the midst of preparing for what will be their stiffest test of the season, as the team will travel to Death Valley to take on No. 25 Clemson at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The trip to Clemson will mark the Cardinals' second-consecutive road game, and their fourth in five weeks. The Cardinals traveled to Syracuse last Friday to claim a 28-6 win over the Orange and improve their record to 5-1 (3-1 ACC). Before the knocking of Syracuse in the dome, the Cards notched a victory over Wake Forest at home after splitting contests at Virginia and FIU.

 Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin took time after Wednesday evening's practice to speak with the media about the challenge of hitting the road once again, the task of facing one of the nation's hottest dual-threat quarterbacks, and their ranking as the nation's best defense.


Memorial Stadium, otherwise affectionately know as "Death Valley" by Tiger fans, has been one of the nation's most feared stadiums for some time. The Cardinals will make their first trip to the venue as a conference foe for the team on Saturday afternoon.

 When speaking with the media Wednesday evening, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin shared the sentiment that the famous stadium epitomizes college football, and that the looming trip has been a point of excitement for the players.

 We relish in the road games. We love crowds like that," Mauldin stated. "This is what we come to college to play football for, for crowds like Clemson. We got a bit of a taste of it last week."

 Having coached in the stadium before, Grantham was able to offer uniquely informed insight. While holding the defensive coordinator capacity at Georgia, Grantham's Bulldogs dropped a close 38-35 decision at Clemson to kickoff the season last year.

 "It's a great place. I think their fans are very passionate about their football," Grantham said.

 "They're loud, they're very supportive of their team. It's why you come to college, it's why you play. It's our chance to be in front of a very vocal, hostile crowd. I think it's fun. It's why you work. It's why you prepare. They've certainly done a great job of representing their school and what they do. It gives us a chance to go play in that type of environment."

 For Grantham, per the usual, success on Saturday comes down to execution, whether on the road or at home.

 "First of all, you've got to go play the game. The game is played between the white lines, and we understand that. That's what really affects the game. The atmosphere creates an excitement in pre-game, but at the end of the day, the players are what affect the game." 


 For the second-straight week, the Cardinals will be facing a quarterback who not only has shown the ability to light it up through the air, but make plays on the ground as well. Since being inserted as the starter against Florida State on Sept. 20, Clemson freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson has been nothing short of explosive. The Gainesville, Ga.-native has, in just three full games, 1,181 yards passing, with 12 touchdown passes and a 68.9 completion percentage. In the Tigers' 41-0 rout of North Carolina State last week, Watson showed his mobility by rushing for 62 yards and a pair of scores.

When asked about the instant success Watson has had, Grantham had high praise. Having formerly held the defensive coordinator position at the University of Georgia before coming to Louisville, Grantham is very familiar with Watson, a player whom the Bulldogs recruited heavily.

  "I do know Watson a little, being from the state of Georgia. I think he's an awesome young man. He's got all the characteristics that you look for in a quarterback. The intangible things, obviously I know about him. I've got a lot of respect for him," Grantham said.

"I think Watson's done a great job with their offense," he continued. "When you look at their offensive staff, they know what he does well and they're doing those things. He's getting the ball to playmakers."

 The Cardinals are fortunate to have already been exposed to quarterbacks similar to Watson. Just last week, the unit faced Syracuse's Terrell Hunt, who has rushed for 307 yards and five scores already this season. Additionally, the Cardinals have worked against their own dual-threat quarterback, freshman Reggie Bonnafon, in practice throughout the season; a fact that has allowed the defense a basis for comparison.

 "I think on the field they're pretty similar from the standpoint of they both have very good arms and can throw the ball down the field, they can throw the deep ball," Grantham said of Bonnafon and Watson.

 "They can both make a play with their feet, and make a bad play into a positive play, which is something that creates issues for defenses."


After back-to-back displays of smothering defense in wins over Wake Forest and Syracuse, the Louisville defense has returned to the top of nation's total defense ranking. Allowing opponents just 230.2 yards per game, the Cardinals are yielding opponents just 3.75 yards per play.

 As a junior on last year's squad, Lorenzo Mauldin totaled 9.5 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss, helping the Cardinals earn the title of the nation's best defense in 2013.

 Returning to the top, Mauldin said, is a point of pride.

FB: Lamb Sees Big Things on His Touchdown Run

Big-screen scoreboards are great for the fans, but who knew the players enjoy looking at them as well.

As junior running back Corvin Lamb of the University of Louisville football team was racing 97 yards on a kickoff return for a touchdown in the win over Miami, he glanced up at the scoreboard to get a glimpse at himself.

"I was running full speed until I looked at myself at the big screen," Lamb said after practice on Thursday. "It was so amazing. I was just so happy to be out there running again with my teammates."

After a 24-yard field goal put Miami ahead 10-7, Lamb took a kickoff at the three-yard line and went untouched for an electrifying return for a touchdown that excited the crowd. It changed the complexion of the game and helped the Cardinals to a 31-13 ACC win in front of a sold-out crowd.

"I knew that we were down and that something needed to be done," Lamb said. "I didn't know I was going to do it right then. I felt it, but it did feel good to do it."

The scary thing for opponents on the rest of the teams on the schedule, Lamb said he never really reached full speed.

"I have been out for a full year so it was exciting to be out there," Lamb said. "I wasn't even running full speed, but I would like to be. I don't think I got touched, I remember just hitting it and running. I was trying to make a play and contribute to the team."

Lamb's road to recovery has been difficult after tearing his ACL early in the season last year, and the road back has been long and winding.

"It was more of a mental struggle seeing my teammates out there having fun," Lamb said. "I was just inside, and I can't go outside because I was doing my rehabilitation.  It was a process. It was a mental process of just getting myself together."

Lamb's long road back came full circle when he was out on the field for the opening kickoff, and he was happy to contribute on special teams.

"I feel like special teams is a huge part of the game and it can change the complexion of the game," Lamb said. "If I have to be on special teams to help my team win, I will do that to help my team win."

FB: Defense pleased with effort, but looks to move on

The University of Louisville football team entered their Monday evening matchup against the University of Miami (Fla.) intent on making an emphatic statement.

  With a dominant 31-13 victory, the Cardinals did just that. And it started with their performance on defense.


As a team, the Cardinals held the traditionally potent Hurricane offense to just 244 yards of total offense. Led by a front seven that plugged holes seemingly as soon as they appeared, the Cards stifled Miami to a total of 70 rushing yards, keeping 2013 first team All-ACC running back selection Duke Johnson to 90 rushing yards and, more importantly, out of the end zone.


Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham noted Wednesday that the performance was a direct result of the team's preparation over the last month.


"We did what we had to do," Grantham, speaking to the media for the first time since Monday's win, said.


"I thought the guys played with effort and energy. I was pleased with the communication both on the field and on the sidelines. I thought we prepared. You can see the invested time we had going into the scheme and learning the game plan. Credit goes to the players for doing that."


When getting into specifics, Grantham praised the play of the defensive line and linebackers- a group that held the Hurricanes to an average of 2.6 yards per rush on Monday night.


"I thought the guys played with energy," Grantham said. "They played with pad level. Did a good job with their hands. Controlled the line of scrimmage. They made it hard for them to run the ball."


"I was really pleased with their effort, energy, and the way that they played."


The group was provided a boost by defensive end-turned-outside linebacker Deiontrez Mount. Mount made eight stops on the night, good for the team's second-highest total. Mount also earned credit for two tackles for loss and a sack in the outstanding season-opening performance.


Mount, who converts to a role as an outside linebacker in Grantham's 3-4 defensive scheme, said that his first in-game experience of the new system was even better than he had imagined throughout fall camp.


"I love it," Mount said with a grin of his impression of the 3-4 with a game now under his belt. "Me and (fellow outside end-turned-backer) Lorenzo (Mauldin) loved it. We always joke around on the field that we're going to do big things this year, and we definitely did."


The 6-foot-5 243-pound senior from Fort Walton Beach, Fla. figures to have plenty more opportunities this season to do just that. Moving into a starting role this year following the departure of first round NFL Draft pick Marcus Smith, Mount brings experience to the table. Despite missing significant time to injury twice in his Louisville career, Mount has made nine starts, and has appeared in 33 contests, tallying more than 50 tackles.


As if a new role as a full-time starter were not enough motivation for the performance he gave in the Cardinals' first game as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Mount credits the atmosphere of the stadium for providing him the boost he needed.


"I was pumped, man," Mount said of bursting through the tunnel and on to the field for the first time this season, into a horseshoe of a record 55,428 screaming fans clad, like the Cardinals, in all black.


"I couldn't believe my eyes when I ran outside. There was black everywhere, I could barely see my own hands. It was just amazing. We need that more often."


Though there is plenty to talk about with regard to Mount's showing against Miami, the senior leader insists that his focus is on moving forward. The Cardinals have a short turnaround, as they'll play host to Murray State on Saturday.


"It's pretty tough man. Anyone can beat any team. With this quick turnaround anyone can be a good match for you."


Mount is quick to credit Murray State and their capabilities on offense, insistent that despite their status as an FCS school, they're a worthy opponent.


"You just can't have people pat you back. You just can't listen to that stuff. They play football. They strap on their pads just like we strap on our pads."


Kickoff between the Cardinals and Racers is slated for 7 p.m., Saturday Sept. 6, at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

FB: Milton Excited to be Back on the Field


If anyone is excited to be back out on the football field, it's University of Louisville wide receiver Matt Milton.


The redshirt senior from Belleville, Ill., will get an opporunity to see significant playing time this week, which was something that didin't look possible after last season. 


"Coming into fall camp I just wanted to play like a starter, act like one, work like one. Get in there and learn the offense as best I can so I can help the team."


A transfer from the University of Tennessee, Milton played in 10 games as a Volunteer before sitting out the 2012 season in compliance with NCAA transfer rules.


A knee injury followed by surgery kept him off the field during the 2013 spring season and held him to minimal playing time last fall. Milton saw action in four games for the Cardinals, making his debut in the season opener against Ohio.


Despite his battles with injuries, Milton is more enthusiastic each day about practice.


"The first couple of days you're getting your legs up under you, you're tired and stuff like that," Milton said. "But today it was a lot better about working with the quarterbacks and just route timing. I mean, when you're tired you're going to be off a little bit, but the best thing to do is work while you're tired so in the game it's easy."


With that enthusiasm comes a higher level of comfort and confidence. The addition of shoulder pads during Thursday's practice allowed the players to elevate their play and feel as though they were in more of a game-like situation.  


"You can't play football without pads, so the sooner the better," Milton said. "I need to get everything on. I need my pants, I need the pads and everything so I can feel like I would in the game, so I can play like that in practice."


Milton is also feeling confortable receiving from both redshirt sophomore quarterback Will Gardner and freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon. He's noticed that both are becoming more confident in their abilities, which helps everyone else on the field as well.


"I think [Will] has more confidence than us now because we're getting more comfortable and that makes him feel better too. He's looking good," he said.


"[Reggie's] a real confident kid," he added. "I think in football confidence is one of the biggest things. You lose your confidence, you don't have anything. And I like his athleticism. I saw him running a little option today and he looked good."


Perhaps one of Milton's most notable qualities as a player is his height. Standing at 6-foot-5, Milton will be a big target and has the athleticism to continue the run. At Mascoutah High, he was ranked as the No. 20 wide receiver in the nation, but he has not yet had the opportunity to show Cardinals' fans his full capability on the field.  


Along with the rest of the team, he will continue to focus on learning and perfecting this year's new playbook while trying to impress the coaching staff with both his play and leadership ability. Milton understands that these changes combined with new players means that he and the team will need to work even harder, but he is prepared to do so.  


"It's a learning process because of the new offense, and we've got young guys in the morning, but some guys had to go in the afternoon too," said Milton. "But it's been pretty good, everybody's learning and getting way better from the first day to the third."

FB: Gardner Continues to Develop His Game

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University of Louisville sophomore quarterback Will Gardner's presence is quite the opposite of demanding.  In fact, he isn't far from being a little soft-spoken. He isn't shy, just a quiet confidence as he hopes to earn the starting nod in the opener versus Miami.

The Douglas, Ga,  native seems unfazed by the big shoes he will likely fill after Teddy Bridgewater left ofr the NFL and is playing for the Minnesota Vikings.

Since winter workouts, Gardner has stepped up and become a leader, showing his Louisville teammates that he has been ready for this moment. The guys on the team trust him, so much they voted him a captain. The graceful leader has established a steady track record.

Gardner went 5-for-5 for 42 yards in his first game last season,   to finishing 32-of-37 for 542 yards (356 by halftime) in his team's Spring Game.

Now with preseason camp in its final days, Gardner assesses, "I feel like I've come a long way since the beginning of fall camp. Things are starting to click now and it's back to normal, it seems. Everything is looking good now."

Since being rated as the 29th-best pro-style quarterback in high school by Rivals.com, Gardner now has an opportunity to lead an offense that will be taking a leap into the ACC when the Hurricanes of Miami visit Louisville on Sept. 1.

Gardner has worked hard in the spring and in fall camp to get for what could be a monumental opportunity.

"I'm just going out every day and not taking a rep off," Gardner said.  "I'm playing full speed, whether it's in individual drills or run timing with the running backs. I'm just trying to play full speed."

Coach McGee tells us all the time, 'The quicker your footwork is, the more accurate your ball is.' And I can tell that a lot when I speed up my footwork and get things going more, my balls are a lot more accurate."

With a southern politeness and an almost unassuming demeanor, Gardner looks to lead a revamped Louisville team that is projected to go to new heights under new head coach Bobby Petrino.

 As fall camp comes to a close in the coming days, Gardner appears to be settling in as a leader.  Gardner has his mind set on being ready for Louisville's season opener.

"We've started game planning," he says. "We have periods where we'll cross over and work some Miami defenses and we still have periods where we work against our own defenses. We're still preparing for Miami." 

Louisville beat Miami in last season's Russell Athletic Bowl with a 36-9 victory.  Yet even with an entire new coaching staff, the Louisville players are seeing many similarities between a Miami team they faced eight months ago and what they are currently working on in camp. 

"We see similarities from then and with our defense because they're both a three-down defense. So that helps us a lot [in] preparing for Miami."


FB: Parker Has Huge Day in Saturday's Scrimmage

Senior wide receiver DeVante Parker is one of the best wide receivers in the country and Saturday's scrimmage strengthened that notion. The product of Ballard High caught a team-high seven passes, but made the play of the game when he leaped over a pair of defenders for a catch along the sideline.

"It's just a skill of mine to go up and get the ball any time I can," Parker said. " just looked it in and I came down with it."



Senior Jake Smith, who started 13 games at center last season and earned first team all-conference accolades, played guard in the scrimmage on Saturday. Tobijah Hughley, who played center in the spring, received the start today.

I think he did really well," Smith said. "He goes hard every play. He gives everything he's got. At center your going to get banged up. Offensive line you're going to get banged up, that's just the nature of the position today. Tobijah, he's got it up top as far as toughness goes. I think he's really coming into his own this fall camp." 


Hughley, Smith, Jamon Brown, John Miller and Kelby Johnson started on the offensive line, and Smith likes how this unit is shaping up in fall camp.

"I like the chemistry that we have right now between the starting five, and then you can sub in Matt or Skylar or Epps or anybody," Smith said.  "Whoever it is, we have good chemistry, so it doesn't really matter who the starting five is. To win a championship, you've got to have ten guys who can come in there and compete. We can pretty much plug in anybody whenever we want."



The University of Louisville conducted its Fan Day on Saturday afternoon and CardNation showed up in full force. Approximately 4,100 fans walked through the doors of Cardinal Arena to get autographs with the UofL football, women's and men's soccer, field hocley and volleyball teams.


"I wanted to thank all the fans who came out today," head coach Bobby Petrino said. "It was a great turnout and I appreciate the support of our great fans. We had a good crowd at the scrimmage and I can't wait until we open the season at home versus Miami." 





University of Louisville running back Dominique Brown understands that talent alone will not lead a team to victory. Success comes from focusing on the fundamentals of the game and learning the proper technique.


That understanding is why Brown, a senior out of Cincinnati, Ohio, can make a major impact for the Cardinals this season. He knows that success will come with the proper technique, focus, and patience.


"It's a learning process," Brown said. "There's nothing that's going to happen overnight. It's going to take all the practice, all of the drills we do. It's going to take all of that come September 1, and we'll have to use it throughout the season."


As a junior, Brown was the team's leading rusher with 825 yards and eight touchdowns, a career highs. After missing the 2012 season due to injury, he came back in full force in 2013, finishing fourth in the conference with 63.5 rushing yards per game.    


Despite the fact that the upcoming 2014 season will be Brown's fifth on the team and fourth on the field, he continues to push himself to learn and perfect the playbook.


"It's just fundamentals and technique," he said. "It's a learning experience. I'm starting to get it now."


One of the techniques emphasized this season for the running backs is keeping their pads low to gain more power. For a player like Brown who is a major presence on the goal line, it is extremely important to gain power by staying low to the ground and making the opposing defenders' jobs much more difficult.


"Our coach (Kolby Smith) always says you get your power when you're lower," he explained. "Especially with me, coach (Bobby) Petrino always harps on 'You're too high, you won't have the power.' So you might be using 40 or 50 percent of your power, not 90 or 100. If you run lower, then you can use all your power. I've been working on that from the spring and now I've started to work on it more in camp."


At 6-foot-2 and 233 pounds, Brown is a big player that would have difficulties staying low without knowing the proper technique. With the help of the coaching staff, he has been able to stay low by leaning in and dropping his hips.


"You don't drop your face to the ground, you still keep your head up," Brown said. "Just drop your hips and just lower your shoulders and have forward lean. That's one thing they keep on harping on as well, just run with better pad level, run with better forward lean. It's pretty much a new emphasis this year."


The competitiveness of practices also helps Brown and the rest of the running backs stay focused and work hard. Brown understands that each player is on the field for the betterment of the team, not the individual.


"You have to come out there and compete every day," he explained. "We don't really have one guy, and your spot could be gone like that. You've just got to come and make you better. When one guys goes down, we pretty much can't miss a beat, so you've got to know it just like the guy who's in front of you."


The strong competition on the field translates to a strong sense of camaraderie between the players.


"We all love each other and we care about each other," Brown said. "It's better for when we go out there and compete but still have fun while we play the game."


With the new coaching staff updating the playbook, all of the running backs have been able to perfect their technique and skills on the field. Brown says that at the moment, there isn't one player who has really broken out, which gives the team more versatility.  


"Coach Petrino likes all of us," he said. "He gives us all equal amount of shares, especially in camp. We all touch the ball and we all rotate, so it's going to be his decision if he wants one guy to emerge. But especially with the guys we have, it's great to have that versatility. I think we're good as a room collectively because everybody brings something special to the table. It's good to have that versatility in your room."

FB: Cards Conduct First Double Session

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The University of Louisville conducted its first double session practice on Sunday at the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex. The Cardinals hit the field for a grueling 25-period practice in humid weather. It was so hot that running back Brandon Radcliff had to change shoes half-way through practice because of how much water was coming out of his shoes.

Safety Gerod Holliman continues to have a solid camp after the first week. He picked off a couple more passes during team periods, while James Sample also made a couple of good breaks on the football.

The Cardinals worked Jake Smith at center, Ryan Mack and John Miller at guard, while Jamon Brown and Kelby Johnson worked at the tackle positions.

After a long first practice this morning, head coach Bobby Petrino took the team through an 18-period practice in the afternoon.

Running back Michael Dyer has taken much more of a leadership role in practice this year. He can be seen offer encouragement to the younger players and giving instructions to his offensive line.

Fan Day is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. at Cardinal arena. Petrino will also open the scrimmage for the fan at 9 a.m. that morning.

FB: Morning Practice Observations

The University of Louisville football rookies and underclassmen hit the field for the second practice of their young careers on Wednesday morning. Under sunny skies and mild heat, the Cardinals worked out for an hour and 45 minutes.

Two players who have stood out during the first two rookie practices have been tight end Micky Crum and wide receiver Javonte Bagley.

Crum, who hails from Columbus, Ohio, has emerged as a possible target for early playing time because of the need for depth and the fact that head coach Bobby Petrino likes to use multiple tight ends.

"I'm loving the grind," Crum said. "I'm loving the coaching style of the offense. Tight ends get the ball a lot. That's what I like about it so far."

Crum is playing behind Gerald Christian and Keith Towbridge, so there is an opportunity for early playing time.

"It's up to the coaches. I just keep working hard, showing them that I'm ready. I should get enough playing time as a freshman."

Crum has been at Louisville since June, but knows that Petrino's offense is very complicated.

"It's different, because I'm not used to getting the ball that much," Crum said. "That's something to get used to. I just keep studying his offense, so I can know it to perfection."

Petrino was asked about Bagley on Tuesday, and the fifth-year head coach relayed some positive feedback on Bagley's play, and he said he reminded him a lot of former Cardinal and long-time Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, Harry Douglas.

A native of Vero Beach, Fla., Bagley wasn't recruited by a lot of BCS schools, but was a late target for the Cardinals.

"What made me decide to come here was I knew coach Petrino had a high-powered offense," Bagley said. "Being that I'm a receiver, he throws the ball around a lot, so that's the reason I chose here."

FB Blog: Three New Cardinals Join the Program in Time for Camp

University of Louisville head football coach Bobby Petrino addressed the media on Monday as the Cardinals reported to fall camp. The fifth-year head coach said the Cardinals added three players who enrolled in classes on Monday.

Two defensive players who are expected to play this year - defensive end Pio Vatuvei and safety James Sample - arrived on campus and will be at practice on Tuesday. Quarterback transfer Tyler Bruggman, who must sit out, will be practicing after coming from Washington State.

"They are behind," Petrino said of Sample and Vatuvei. "But they just have to spend extra time in the playbooks, spend extra time learning the system and in meetings with their coaches.

"They're going to have to be quick learners. But they are both experienced and have been through it before. Hopefully, they will be quick learners and will be able to help us."

Petrino said Vatuvei and Sample are guys who the defensive staff needs to come in and help the Cardinals' defense this season.

"Yeah, we expect them to help us," he said. "As the season goes on and they continue to get better, we expect they will help us."

Vatuvei played at Patterson (Calif.) High School and originally committed to USC. He signed with Washington and played in nine games as a freshman, registering seven tackles as a true freshman. He totaled a pair of tackles against nationally ranked LSU and was credited with a career-high three stops in a win over Portland State.

After one season with the Huskies, Vatuvei spent a season at the College of San Mateo. He had 35 tackles, including 6.5 sacks, in 11 games.

Sample also played at Washington as a true freshman in 2011, but suffered shoulder injury and received a medical redshirt. He appeared in just three games in 2012 before leaving the program. Sample spent last season at American River Junior College in California.


The Cardinals will practice in shorts and helmets for the first couple days before putting the pads for the first time on Saturday, when the Cardinals hit the field at 3 p.m. Saturday is also Media Day for the squad.


Coaching changes are never easy, but the transition has been made easier because of the veteran leadership.

"I have been very pleased with how easy they made the transition," Petrino said. ". . . I let them know things were going to be different. We have to do things the way we know how. Coach Strong did a great job but obviously our styles are different and what we know is different. The quicker we get over the fact that there's a change and just adapt to it, then the better chance we have to be a championship team. I'll tell you what I have been very impressed with out attitudes. I think the leadership has been the key for us."


Monday's New and Notes; Senior Day Slated for Saturday

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Strong’s First Full Class to Play Last Home Game on Saturday
Head coach Charlie Strong will watch his first full class play their last home game of the season on Saturday versus Memphis. Taking over the program in 2010, Strong will see Preston Brown, B.J. Butler, Brandon Dunn, Jarrett Davis, Senorise Perry, Deon Rogers and Marcus Smith play at home for the final time. Those seven players participated as true freshmen and helped the Cardinals get to a bowl for the first time in three seasons.

“It’s just guys that have helped us build this program,” Strong said. “You hope they go out the right way. That is why I said that at the beginning you hate to see this time of year comes because you hate to see these guys move on. You would like to have another year, I wish we could have redshirted Preston (Brown) and Marcus Smith.”

The Cardinals are looking for their 12th home win in their last 14 games with a win over the Tigers.

Cardinals Use New Scheme to Stop Houston’s Potent Offensive Attack
Strong admitted on Monday that the Cardinals used a new defensive scheme to hold Houston to a season-low 195 yards of total offense and 121 yards passing, which was almost 200 yards fewer than its season average. Strong the Cardinals used four down linemen and a linebacker to stop Houston’s bubble screen.

“We tried before but we didn’t play it the right way the last time we tried to play it,” Strong said. “The guys were getting on the edge of the defense. What you have to do is eliminate the gaps inside. If a backer is inside he has a gap to the outside. You have to close off that gap so he can run the ball to the outside. We were able to do that.”

Cardinals Go For Sixth Conference Win
The Cardinals are looking for their sixth conference win for the first time since going 6-1 in the BIG EAST Conference in 2006 and just the fifth time in school history. Louisville won a school record eight league games in 2004 and also won at least six in 2001 and 2000.

Brown Records Second 100-Yard Contest
Junior running back Dominique Brown recorded his second 100-yard rushing game with a career-high 137 yards on a career-best 27 carries and his first two-touchdown performance. Brown put the Cardinals ahead in the first quarter with a 13-yard run and later scored on a three-yard scamper. Brown has totaled 650 yards and a team-high six touchdowns this season on a team-high 111 carries.

Not a Normal Occurrence
With the win over Houston, the Cardinals are 9-1 for the second-straight season and just the seventh time in school history. Outside of the last two seasons, the Cardinals were also 9-1 in 2006, 2004, 2001, 1972 and 1957. Head coach Charlie Strong is just the second coach in school history to lead their teams to a pair of 9-1 starts and the first coach to do it in consecutive seasons.


Monday's Football Notes; Marcus Smith leads nation in sacks

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Gaines Named the American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week
Sophomore cornerback Charles Gaines was tabbed as the American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after his performance in Louisville’s 31-10 win on the road at Connecticut. Gaines blocked a punt and returned it seven yards for a touchdown. It was his third touchdown of the season. He also scored on a 93-yard kickoff return versus FIU and returned an interception 70 yards against USF.

Smith Takes Over the National Lead in Sacks
Defensive end Marcus Smith has taken over as the national leader in sacks, averaging 1.17 sacks per game. With 2.5 sacks on Friday night, Smith has 10.5 sacks this year and has 20.0 for his career. Trent Murphy of Stanford is second in the country with 10.0 or 1.12 per game. Smith has been on a tear in the sacks department, registering 7.5 sacks in the last four games.

“He has grown each and every year,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “He takes coaching well. It is so fun to watch him develop. Usually when you take a guy with a quarterback’s body and make him a defensive player, even with his mentality, it is so tough with a quarterback to tell him he is going to play defense. He accepted that challenge, which was great.”

Smith and Mauldin Impressive Duo
The Cardinals are fortunate to have two of the top 15 pass rushers in the nation in senior Marcus Smith and junior Lorenzo Mauldin. The duo is ranked first and 15th in the nation, respectively, in sacks this season, with Smith recording 1.12 per game and Mauldin notching 0.8 per game. Smith leads the American Athletic Conference and Mauldin is third. The Cardinals are one of only two teams in the country to have two players with 7.0 or more sacks. Texas’ defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed are tied for the team lead and rank second in the Big 12 with 7.0 sacks each.

Cardinals Reach New Interception Record Under Strong
The Cardinals have not had a lot of success in the first three years of the Charlie Strong era in recording interceptions. Louisville registered 11 last season, which was the highest mark since Strong took over the program. The Cardinals recorded 10 picks in 2011 and a low of nine in the first year. After recording three interceptions in the win over Connecticut on Friday, the Cardinals have 13 interceptions this season, which ranks 14th nationally. Terell Floyd leads the team and ranks 14th in the nation in interceptions with four, while Charles Gaines and Calvin Pryor are next with three.

Cards and Michigan State Among the Best Defensively
Louisville and Michigan State are the only two schools in the FBS to rank in the top five nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, and passing defense. The Cardinals also lead the American Athletic Conference in nine defensive categories (total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, opponent third-down, sacks, red-zone defense and opponents first downs). In addition, Louisville’s defense has allowed just 4.21 yards per play, which ranks No. 2 in the FBS.

First Night Game Since 2009
The Cardinals will play their first Saturday night home game - kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m. - when Houston travels to Papa John’s Cardinals Stadium this weekend. It will be the first one since the 2009 season when the Cardinals defeated Southern Mississippi 25-23 on a late field goal.

“It is different,” Strong said of the expected atmosphere on Saturday night. “As a coach, I like those 3:30 games because you are so anxious and you want to go play. As a crowd, it is better if it is a Saturday night because they have time all day to tailgate and be with friends and have a good time. Then they can come and cheer us on. Explode all that energy out of them.”

Monday Football News and Notes

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Dominique Brown who received his first start of the season against USF, led the Cardinals with 125 yards rushing and a score.

University of Louisville football head coach Charlie Strong spoke to the media at his regularly scheduled American Athletic Conference call on Monday morning.

The only significant injury to come out of the 34-3 win over USF was offensive lineman Nacho Garcia, who suffered a left knee injury and missed the rest of the game. Strong said Garcia was being evaluated on Monday.

Wide receiver Kai De La Cruz, who has seen limited action in the last two games because of a hamstring injury, could return against Connecticut on Nov. 8.

“We’re going to get him rested and see if we can’t get him back for the UConn game,” Strong said.

Strong also spoke about the dominant running performance by Dominique Brown, who received his first start of the season against USF and led the Cardinals with 125 yards rushing and a score. He also had six catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.

“Dominique is running very well right now,” Strong said. “He’s running behind his pads and plays very physical. I really like the way he is running and way things he’s doing, including catching the ball out of the backfield.”

Freshman wide receiver James Quick has caught a pass in three consecutive games after catching one pass for 31 yards against USF.

”He’s still learning and still a freshman,” Strong said. “He’s getting in and he’s getting his opportunities. He still has a lot of talented guys in front of him. But when he gets an opportunity, he takes advantage of it.”

Bridgewater on Tear
Junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is averaging 335.2 yards per game and has tossed nine touchdowns in his last four conference games after throwing for 344 yards in the win over USF.

The Miami, Fla., native has only thrown two interceptions in 243 pass attempts this season. He completed 88.8 percent of his throws last week and is second nationally in completion percentage at 73.7 percent. Bridgewater is tied for third nationally with 23 touchdown passes this year.

Former Quarterback Now One of the Nation’s Best Pass Rushers
Senior defensive end Marcus Smith, who started his career as a quarterback at Louisville, is now one of the nation’s top defensive ends. Smith registered two sacks in the 34-3 win over USF on Saturday to give him eight on the season and 20.5 for his career.

He stands fourth nationally in sacks at 1.0 per game and also sits 14th in tackles for loss. Through eight games, Smith has 22 quarterback pressures, about 2.5 per game.

University of Louisville tight end Gerald Christian, who has caught 17 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns this season, was named to the John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List for the top collegiate tight end.

Christian Named to Midseason Mackey List
University of Louisville junior tight end Gerald Christian is on the 2013 John Mackey Award Watch List, the organization announced Tuesday.

Christian was one of 29 players who made the midseason watch list, given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end. The award recipient is selected by vote of the John Mackey Award Selection Committee. The award recipient will be presented live on Dec. 12 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Red Carpet Show at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

Christian has caught 17 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns this season for the Cardinals.

Dad’s Frame Moves Marcus Smith to Defense
Senior defensive end Marcus Smith came to the University of Louisville as a quarterback, but made the switch to the defensive side of the football after the first week. The move has paid unreal dividends for Smith, who is ranked ninth in school history with 15.5 sacks. However, Smith’s quarterback fate was decided early on based on the size of his father, Marcus Sr.

“Yeah, because of his dad,” Strong said on knowing Smith would continue to grow. “His dad is a big man and I said at some point he is going to fill out and get large like his father or eventually put on weight. At the time, he was probably like 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. He never lifted weights, so once we got him in the weight room, we knew he was going to get bigger. Then we moved him closer to the line of scrimmage.”

Bookends Rank in the Top 10
Junior defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin and senior defensive end Marcus Smith are definitely one of the top tandems in the nation when it comes to sacking the quarterback. Mauldin ranks third nationally in sacks with 1.1 per game and Smith stands seventh in the country with 1.0 sacks per game. However, head coach Charlie Strong thinks his two bookends are different players.

“When you look at those two guys, (Lorenzo) Mauldin is 100 miles an hour every day from practice to game,” Strong said. “He doesn’t change and guys don’t like going against him, because that’s how he is. Marcus (Smith) is so athletic and he can do so many things. The thing he can do is he can go speed with power. They’re different in that (Lorenzo) Mauldin, you’re going to get the speed off the edge and the quarterback is going to step up, because he’s going to force you to step up.”

Monday Football News and Notes

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Damian Copeland had a career game against Rutgers, catching a personal best eight passes for 115 yards. He helped complete the feat of having a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher, and 100-yard receiver.

The Cardinals’ offense tallied 461 yards of offense in the 24-10 win over Rutgers last Thursday, the sixth time this year they have registered 450 yards or better in a game this season.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater led the Cardinals by going 21-of-31 for 310 yards and two scores, while wide receiver Damian Copeland added a career-high 115 yards and running back Senorise Perry rushed for 104 yards to give the Cardinals a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard receiver, and a 100-yard rusher in the same game.

Louisville last accomplished the feat against Pittsburgh last season when Bridgewater threw for 304 yards versus Pittsburgh, Perry totaled 101 yards on the ground, and DeVante Parker accumulated 153 yards receiving.

Cardinals Own Fourth-Longest Winning Streak
With the 24-10 win over Rutgers last Thursday, the Cardinals ran their win streak to eight games, which is tied with Oregon for the fourth-longest in the nation. Ohio State owns the nation’s longest streak at 18 games, while Alabama is second at 10 and Baylor has won nine in a row.

Highly Ranked
The Cardinals moved up to sixth in the nation in the USA Today Coaches Poll, moving up two spots this week. The No. 6 ranking is the highest mark for the Cardinals since they were No. 5 against West Virginia in 2006. The Cardinals went on to top the Mountaineers to remain undefeated at 8-0.

6-0 Again
The Cardinals are 6-0 for the second-consecutive season under head coach Charlie Strong. Louisville opened up the 2012 season at 9-0 before falling at Syracuse.

This is the third time since 2006 that Louisville is 6-0, and the fourth time in school history. Louisville opened 2006 at 8-0 before losing to Rutgers and also in 1957 when it opened the year at 6-0. The 2006 and 2012 teams are the only squads to be 7-0 in school history.

USF Game Time Announced
The Louisville football team’s Oct. 26 contest at USF has been announced as a noon kickoff in Tampa. The TV designation for that game hasn’t been declared yet.

The series is tied at five apiece. USF, currently at 2-4, is under the direction of first-year coach Willie Taggart, who spent the last three seasons leading Western Kentucky.

The Cardinals have won the last two decisions.

Louisville returns to the City of Brotherly Love for the first time since handing Temple a 62-0 decision in 2006. Brian Brohm threw for 307 yards and a touchdown in the win, guiding the Cardinals to 42 first-half points.

Returning to the City of Brotherly Love
The Cardinals will make their first visit to the city of Philadelphia for the first time in seven years when they open conference play against Temple on Saturday.

Playing in a non-conference game at the time, the Cardinals defeated the Owls 62-0 in the second game of the 2006 season behind 307 yards passing from Brian Brohm and 110 yards receiving by Mario Urrutia. UofL raced out of the gates with 42 first-half points to move to 2-0 on the season. The Cardinals went on to finish the year at 12-1 with a win over Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl.

The Road Ahead
The Cardinals’ depth will be tested over the next couple of weeks, as they will play three games in a 14-day span. Louisville faces Temple on Oct. 5 and will have to turn around and host Rutgers on Oct. 10 and UCF on Oct. 18.

“What we had a chance to do last week, since we were open, is look at Rutgers,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “Since we play a game Saturday and have a short week, the preparation has to be next week when we come back on Sunday. It’s got to be treated like a Sunday. A Monday has got to be treated like a Tuesday, and Tuesday has got to be treated like a Wednesday, because it’s such a short week.”

The Cardinals are coming off the first of one of their three bye weeks. Louisville will be open on Nov. 2 and Nov. 30. Louisville is 44-40-1 after a bye week in its history.

Not including bowl games, the Cardinals are 2-2 under head coach Charlie Strong coming out of bye weeks. Louisville had two open weeks last year, defeating Pittsburgh 45-35 after a week off, and falling to Connecticut 23-20 in triple overtime when it took a week off after a 45-26 loss at Syracuse.

Strong Moves into Fourth Place
Head coach Charlie Strong has built something special at Louisville in a short period of time. After just 43 games, Strong is now the fourth-winningest coach in the history of the program. With the win over FIU, Strong moved past Lee Corso (28-11) with his 29th win since taking over in 2010. In typical Strong fashion, the fourth-year coach had no idea where he stood in the record books.

“I never knew that. I guess I have never even looked at stats like that,” Strong said. “I just want to make sure we keep winning with what I have this year.”

Strong Wants to See Improvement - Everywhere
With a 4-0 record and beating teams by an average of 41 points per game, it’s hard to imagine that head coach Charlie Strong could be disappointed. However, Strong thinks his seventh-ranked team can improve in all phases of the game.

“I told our team that we can play better at every position, not only at the offensive line, but every position,” Strong said. “You look at us offensive line-wise, and you know that there are three techniques there where you need to block him and move him. It’s also key for the running backs, too. We may not block them, so they’re going to have to be able to run through defenders. We can do a lot better job, not only on the offensive line, but with every position.”

Monday Football Notes

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Senorise Perry rushed for 101 yards and four touchdowns in last year's BIG EAST opener versus Pittsburgh, guiding the Cardinals to a 45-35 victory.

Not Giving Up Big Plays
The defensive coaching staff has continued talk about limiting the big play, and that’s exactly what the Cardinals have done this season. After four games, the Cardinals rank fifth in the nation in giving up only 33 plays of 10 or more yards and rank sixth in yielding just six plays of longer than 20 yards. The Cardinals have given up just seven plays of 30 or more yards this season and lead the nation in first down defense, allowing just 11.0 per game. Louisville held FIU to just two first downs in the 72-0 win on Sept. 21. In the passing game, the Cardinals are tied with Baylor for the national lead, giving up just 17 plays of 10+ yards.

Another New Conference
The Cardinals open play in their fourth different conference when facing off against Temple in the American Athletic Conference opener for Louisville. The Cardinals played in the Missouri Valley Conference from 1963-74 before entering Conference USA in 1996-2004. Louisville was a BIG EAST member from 2005-2012. The Cardinals won MVC titles in 1970 and 1972 before winning titles in C-USA in 2000, 2001, and 2004. The Cardinals won three BIG EAST championships: 2006, 2011, and 2012.

Since 2005, the Cardinals are just 3-5 in conference road openers and have lost two of their three under head coach Charlie Strong. Louisville defeated Pittsburgh 45-35 last season, but lost to Cincinnati 25-16 in 2011 and the Panthers 20-3 in 2010.

“We know we are in a conference where some of the teams have left like Pittsburgh and Syracuse,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “But we still have to go play. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, we have to just go play. It’s all about us. We have to get our team ready to play. We have to make sure we have no slip-ups.”

In BIG EAST action, the Cardinals were 2-6 in conference openers and had lost five of their six league openers. Head coach Charlie Strong lost to Cincinnati in 2010 and 2011, both conference openers, but beat Pittsburgh last season in the Cardinals’ BIG EAST opener.

Cardinals Use Bye to Hit the Recruiting Trail
The Cardinal coaching staff used their open week to hit the recruiting trail and visit the 25 players that are already committed to the Cardinals. The staff went in all different directions over the weekend before returning to practice on Sunday evening.

“We have great reception out there,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “Your name is out there and everyone has a chance to see us play. When a coach walks into a school, it’s a different outlook for them. We have most of our class in place. We got a chance to watch the players that are committed to our program.”

Johnson Has Changed the Field Position
Junior punter Ryan Johnson hasn’t been needed all that much this season, but when he has been called upon, he has performed. Punting 11 times this year, Johnson is averaging 46.1 yards per punt, which is tied for the lead in the American Athletic Conference. The Louisville native would rank eighth nationally, but doesn’t qualify because he doesn’t meet the minimum requirements.

“Ryan (Johnson) is an outstanding athlete,” Strong said. “He played quarterback in high school. He has punted the ball very well for us. I gave him a scholarship in the spring. He changes the field position. That’s what you talk about in special teams, changing the field position, and that’s what Ryan can do.”

Football Enjoying Bye Week, Looking Ahead to AAC Opener

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Cardinals Working on Themselves During the Bye Week
The Cardinals are in the midst of one of their three bye weeks for the 2013 season. Louisville will have a week off on Nov. 2 and another one on Nov. 30 before closing the season on Dec. 5 versus Cincinnati.

“We have everything to work on,” senior defensive tackle Brandon Dunn said after Wednesday’s practice.  “As a defense, we made mistakes in the game. We have come out here and try to fix him and get better during our off week.”

Louisville hits the practice field this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, before taking Friday and Saturday off. Louisville returns to practice on Sunday afternoon before getting its normal Monday off.

“We are just working on fundamentals,” senior defensive tackle Roy Philon said. “We are using this week to get better and work on a few things and get them corrected for Temple.”

Louisville faces Temple in the league opener on Oct. 5 at noon.

New Conference Opener
The Cardinals will begin their first season in the American Athletic Conference when they face the Owls on Oct. 5. It will be the first time the Cardinals are playing in a new league since they joined the BIG EAST in 2005. The Cardinals opened up BIG EAST play with a loss at South Florida in 2005.

Football Mid-Week Notes, Former Teammates Face Off Saturday

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University of Louisville wide receiver Eli Rogers will be one of the Cardinals' 39 players from the state of Florida on the field on Saturday, when Louisville plays host to FIU at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

1993 Liberty Bowl Team to be Honored on Saturday
The 1993 team, which defeated Michigan State 18-7 in the Liberty Bowl, will be honored during the FIU game on Saturday.

Under the direction of Howard Schnellenberger, the Cardinals went 9-3 as an independent and dominated Michigan State. The Cardinals defeated No. 23 Arizona State 35-17 that season and also thumped Texas 41-10.

Teammates to Face Off
Former Miami Northwestern High teammates Teddy Bridgewater and FIU’s E.J. Hilliard will likely square off as the two starting quarterbacks in the game on Saturday.

They both played at Northwestern together in 2010 and are extremely close friends. Hilliard came in relief of starter Jake Medlock during last season’s contest and went 9-of-10 for 82 yards and a touchdown. Hilliard is likely to start this week against the Cardinals because Medlock is nursing a concussion.

Third Down Success
The Cardinals have been stellar on defense this year and have had great success on third down. Louisville ranks fifth in the nation on third-down defense, allowing the opposition to convert on 24.4 percent of their tries.

The Cardinals held Kentucky to 0-13 on third down. It's the first time the Cardinals have stopped an opponent from converting a third down since 2002, when Duke was 0-for-15 on third downs on Sept. 7.

Abundance of Broward-Dade County Talent
There will be a number of south Florida natives on the field when the Cardinals take on FIU on Saturday. Louisville has a remarkable 23 players on its roster from Broward and Dade counties. In total, the Cardinals have 39 players on the roster from the state of Florida.

Football Weekend Wrap-Up and Notes Against Kentucky

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Among the highlights in Louisville's 27-13 victory over Kentucky on Saturday in Commonwealth Stadium was Charles Gaines' first career interception. Senorise Perry also gave the Cardinals' their first 100-yard rusher of the season in the victory.

Gaines and Holliman Earn First Starts Against Kentucky
The Cardinals had two new starters in the defensive secondary in cornerback Charles Gaines and safety Gerod Holliman. Gaines, who played mainly at wide receiver last season, transitioned to cornerback in the spring and made his first start on Saturday versus Kentucky. He also stopped a potential Kentucky scoring pass when he recorded his first interception in the corner of the end zone.

“You’re looking at two talented players,” head coach Charlie Strong said on Monday. “Guys that have a lot of ability and we expect them to play well. When we recruited them, they were highly recruited and now, it’s their turn. They’ve been in the program for two or three years and you expect them to go play.”

Holliman started at the nickel position because of Kentucky’s tendency of using three wide receivers and a tight end. Holliman played well, recording three solo tackles and a pass break-up.

“He’s an athlete,” Strong said.  “He can play wide receiver and defensive back, and that’s what you like. You like a guy who has athletic ability and the skill, because he can run and cover.”

Running Game Turns Around Team’s Fortunes
The Cardinals were in tough 3-3 game late in the second quarter until mounting an 11-play, 52-yard drive that resulted in a 13-yard pass from Teddy Bridgewater to DeVante Parker. On that drive, the Cardinals used a running game to get into position for a score and establish it for the rest of the game. Dominique Brown accounted for 28 yards on the ground during the drive. Louisville, which rushed for 62 yards in the first half, ran for 180 in the second half to finish with a season-high 242 yards.

“What they did a great job of was bringing pressure and locating the pressure and where it was coming from,” Strong said when asked about what adjustments were made with the running game. “Once we were able to locate the pressure, we would run away from the pressure. Now, we were sealing the back side and now the lane was open up to us on the front side.”

Perry Returns to Form
Senior Senorise Perry looked like the player he was in before the injury in 2012 last week against Kentucky. The Summerville, Ga., product ran for 100 yards and two scores in the 27-13 win over Kentucky. It was the fourth 100-yard game of his career and the first since running for 101 yards and four scores versus Pittsburgh last season.

“You like that coming from Senorise, because he’s coming off a knee injury,” Strong said. “You wanted to see if he could get that speed back. Then, when he was able to race down that sideline and they weren’t able to catch him. It shows you now that he’s getting back. I figured it would take some games for him to get back to himself.”

Strong Worried about Big Plays
Kentucky hurt the Cardinals with big plays in the second half of the Cardinals’ win over Kentucky. JoJo Kemp hurt the Cardinals with 80 second-half yards, including a 47-yard run.  Kentucky used big plays in the running game late in the second half before the Cardinals stifled the Wildcats on a fourth-quarter drive in the red zone.

“You just can’t give up big plays on defense,” said Strong. “You look at their quarterback scramble and you look at two balls that were thrown over our heads and we just had to play tighter coverage. I feel like, sometimes, that we play a lot of zone. We need to play some man coverage and let our corners just lock down their receivers.”

The University of Louisville football team is focusing on improving its running game, while the defense has pitched a shutout in the first half through two games this year; also, changes in stadium security for fans traveling to Lexington.

Cardinals Need to Improve the Running Game
Over the last six games, dating back to last season, the Cardinals have struggled to run the football. Louisville has averaged just 77.3 yards per game over that span and had trouble sustaining long runs, all things that irritate head coach Charlie Strong.

“We need to be more physical and more aggressive in the run game,” Strong said. “Guys need to stay on their blocks and the backs need to run down hill. A lot of times, it is not going to be blocked right but you have to run through a defender. We cannot let first contact get us on the ground. We have to make guys miss tackles and lower our pads and run through them.”

The Cardinals ran for 78 yards on 28 carries in the 44-7 win over Eastern Kentucky last Saturday.

Brown and Davis Back on the Field
The Cardinals received a shot in the arm with the return of linebacker Keith Brown and wide receiver Jarrett Davis. Brown, a freshman All-American last season, partially tore his ACL in the summer and missed the first two games of the year. He practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, and could see action for the first time on Saturday. Davis was injured during fall camp and also returned to action this week.

Shutting Down Opponents in the First Half
The Cardinals have yet to give up a single point in the first half this season. Louisville has outscored the opposition 55-0 in the first half, tallying a 28-0 advantage in the first quarter and a 27-0 edge in the second. The Louisville defense has yielded single touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters.

“We have been aggressive and have blitzed a lot, but we can play better,” Strong said. “We would like to see better play. It will come. It’s our second game. You just figure each game you get better and better and better.”

Commonwealth Stadium Changes
Fans traveling to Commonwealth Stadium for Saturday’s Louisville-Kentucky game should be aware of security and parking changes to the venue. Kentucky has adopted the NFL policy regarding stadium security, prohibiting backpacks and large bags from entering the stadium.

Other changes and regulations can be seen on the Wildcats’ game day page - http://www.ukathletics.com/fbgameday/.

University of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is off to fast start in two games and ranks among the nation's elite statistically. Also, see what head coach Charlie Strong and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson agree on concerning the running back situation.

Bridgewater in the National Statistics
Junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leads the nation in touchdown passes with nine, throwing five in the opener versus Ohio and four more last week versus Eastern Kentucky. He is the first UofL quarterback to total nine touchdown passes in two games since Brian Brohm did it versus Murray State and Middle Tennessee in 2007.

Bridgewater leads the country in points responsible for with 54. He has thrown nine touchdowns in the first two wins. The 6-foot-3 signal caller is third in the nation in passing efficiency (228.1), fourth in passing yards (376 yards per game) and eighth in total offense (376 yards per game).

Strong and Watson Agree on Utilizing Two Backs
The Cardinals have gone into the season playing all five running backs to start the season. UofL has split the carries pretty evenly between the stable of running backs. Senior Senorise Perry leads the team in rushing with 94 yards and a score, while junior Michael Dyer has added 70 yards and Dominique Brown has totaled 50. However, Strong said on Monday that he wanted to get a couple of back into the flow of the game.

“When you get into a flow of the game, you like to leave a guy in there, but when you’re rotating three backs right now, no one has really just stepped up and taken the job yet, so when that happens, then you can say, ‘Here it is. You’ve taken it. Here it is, now go run with it,’” Strong said. “That’s what we’re waiting on. Someone to just step up and go and it’s hard right now just because how we’re rotating them. When we do get that one guy, he’ll be the guy that stands back there, but we’ll still end up playing with one or two. That’s going to happen, because when you look across the country, that’s what everyone is doing. They’re playing two backs. It can take some hits off the other back, rest him, and then get the other guy. It’s just a change-up. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for two guys.

Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson agreed with the head coach’s assessment after Tuesday’s practice.

“We want to go with two guys,” Watson said. “We need to get a rhythm at tailback to establish that the kid has to play. You can’t do that at tailback and you can’t do that at quarterback. You have to give them rhythm. We will go with two guys and have a situational role for the third guy.”

Mauldin to Appear on Jim Rome
University of Louisville defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin will make an appearance on the Jim Rome Radio Show on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Mauldin, who has an interesting story and was recently a victim of a hit-and-run accident, will be a guest on one of the nation’s most popular radio shows. Fans can listen to WXVW 1450 AM to hear the show.

Monday Football Notes and Look Ahead

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Strong Looks for Second Win in Lexington
Head coach Charlie Strong makes his second trip into Commonwealth Stadium when his seventh-ranked Cardinals face Kentucky on Sept. 14 at noon. Strong’s team snapped the Wildcats’ four-game winning streak over the Cardinals with an impressive 24-17 win in 2011.

Teddy Bridgewater relieved Will Stein, who suffered a shoulder injury, and Bridgewater tossed his first two career touchdown passes. Louisville led at the half 14-3 when Bridgewater hit DeVante Parker on a play right before the half.

Bridgewater Going Back to His Starting Point
The lore of Teddy Bridgewater began almost two years to the date when he relieved Will Stein in the first half of Louisville’s 24-17 win at Kentucky on Sept. 17, 2011.

Leading 7-3, Stein scrambled and went down hard on his shoulder, causing him to miss the rest of the game. Enter Bridgewater, who helped the Cardinals end a four-game losing streak to the Wildcats, and he hasn’t missed a game since. In the win over Kentucky, Bridgewater went 10-of-18 for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He connected on 25-yard touchdown passes to DeVante Parker and Josh Bellamy.

Pryor Named American Athletic Conference Player of the Week
Junior safety Calvin Pryor was tabbed the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week. Pryor was all over the field as the seventh-ranked Cardinals shut down Eastern Kentucky on Saturday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

A native of Port St. Joe, Fla., Pryor led a Louisville defense that limited the Colonels to just 206 yards of offense and allowed just 99 yards through the air. Starting his 22nd-consecutive game, Pryor registered eight tackles, one tackle for loss, a forced fumble, a 26-yard interception return and 22 return yards following a fumble recovery lateral.

Cardinals to face “Air Raid” Attack This Weekend at Commonwealth
The Cardinals will get their first look at Kentucky’s “Air Raid” offense on Saturday. A fast-paced offense that uses two different styles of quarterbacks in pocket passer Max Smith and the versatile Jalen Whitlow. The two combined to help UK rack up 675 total yards in a 41-7 victory over Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.

“It’s a very balanced offense, very up-tempo and can create issues if you don’t get lined up and you can’t handle the speed,” Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said. “That’s going to be critical for us on defense. You have two quarterbacks who can create some issues for you if you don’t get aligned.”

Bridgewater Third in Nation in Passing Efficiency
Junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater owns two of the top single-game passing performances in the first two weeks of the college football season. He threw for 397 yards last week against Eastern Kentucky and 355 yards versus Ohio on Sept. 1. Bridgewater has thrown for big yards and has been extremely efficient. He jumped to third in the nation in passing efficiency at 228.0 and leads the country with nine touchdown passes.

Football Weekend Wrap-Up and Notes

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University of Louisville football head coach Charlie Strong was not only pleased with the Cardinals' performance in their 49-7 season-opening victory, but also with CardMarch. He also reported on other news from Sunday.

CardMarch A Success
Head coach Charlie Strong made a decision to adjust the location of CardMarch this season, and the fourth-year head coach was pleased with the results. After dropping the players off in the Green Lot for the last couple of seasons, Strong decided to move the drop-off point to at Floyd Street at the south end of the stadium.

“Well it carried over from the Sugar Bowl. We have some of the most passionate fans,” Strong said on Tuesday. “When we pulled up to CardMarch on Sunday, all our players were looking out the windows saying, ‘Oh my god.’ It was the first time when we came off the interstate they had to move traffic with the buses coming through. To have that feeling that they are coming and they are coming for us. I tell them they are here to watch you put on a show so go put on a show.”

The Cardinals went on to put on a display in front of the second-largest crowd in school history in the 49-7 win over Ohio.

“We have the passionate fans and they want success just as much as we do. It is a lot of fun and makes the players’ jobs a lot easier. When the players see fans supporting them, they play at a different level. When we went into that Sugar Bowl, we walked into the stadium and the fans were already in the stands. During the warm-ups, the fans were already there. Then on Sunday you like how packed it was, it gave the players a different feeling.”

Cardinals Use Three True Freshmen
In the first three seasons of Charlie Strong’s rebuilding plan, he used a total of 28 true freshmen, including 21 in the first two seasons. That number dwindled to seven a year ago, and that number was even smaller last Sunday when three got on the field. True freshmen James Hearns, Keith Kelsey and James Quick saw the field for the first time. Strong said that number might stay that low if he can keep his team healthy.

“Just depends on injuries,” Strong said. “We have a group of freshmen who are really talented. But the way we built our team now, you are happy you built depth with the upperclassmen. So you do not really have to count on those freshmen. Two or three years ago, we were counting on those freshmen and a lot of them played. One year I think like 12 of them played.”

Strong was asked what his plans were for the rest of the season with the freshmen. He hadn’t made up his mind yet, but definitely has a plan in mind.
“We travel them and make sure they are ready in case something does happen. Then we have to make a decision. You don’t want to go down to game seven or eight and have to go play a freshman and burn a year. Just depends on the depth of our football team and making sure guys do stay healthy”

Lamb and Bowles to Have Surgery
Strong announced that running back Corvin Lamb and tight end Hunter Bowles are going to have surgery. Lamb tore his ACL in the fourth quarter of the Louisville’s 49-7 win over Ohio. The Miami, Fla., native carried four times for 13 yards and returned a kick for 20 on Sunday. Bowles will have neck surgery on Thursday and will be out for the rest of the year.

Bridgewater Calls His Own Plays
Everyone knew junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater could do it all, but Sunday he showed a different skill set by having the ability to call his own plays at the line of scrimmage. In the second series of the game, Bridgewater directed a five-play, 55-yard drive in which he was the main play caller.

“The way he can read defenses and call the right plays,” Strong said.” You see it within him and also we had a series there it may have been the second series of the game where those were all his calls. I think it was the touchdown where he got outside. Then threw the ball down the sidelines to (Damian) Copeland those were all Teddy’s calls. It is what we call NASCAR, when we are up on the ball letting Teddy make all the calls.”

Strong said that if the Cardinals’ offense was in a two-minute situation late in a half or in the game, Bridgewater would have full reign of calling his own plays.

“It would be him, yes,” Strong said. “If we were in the two-minute offense and needed a score. It almost happened right before half, if we got that penalty that backed us up to the 10. Then Senorise (Perry) busted a big one. Then we had 1:10 left and we were about to jump the ball but I decided to say just kick it and let’s get out of here.”

University of Louisville football junior Lorenzo Mauldin participated in some light running at practice on Wednesday and then spoke with the media about the details of the accident and how he's feeling.

Post-Practice Interviews: Vance Bedford | Lorenzo Mauldin

Both the University of Louisville football team and the media were treated to a pleasant sight on Wednesday.

Junior Lorenzo Mauldin, a victim of a hit-and-run accident on Tuesday morning, was released from Jewish Hospital on Wednesday and even returned to practice for some light running and mental reps. The more impressive feat was that there were no visible scars or injuries to the Atlanta, Ga., native.

It’s easy to say that his 6-foot-4, 243-pound frame guarded against any severe injuries.

Mauldin, though, believes the Cardinals’ rabid support from all social media avenues - mainly Twitter and Facebook - played a big part in his return.

“I feel more lucky than anybody on this earth to be honest,” Mauldin said to the media Wednesday evening. “Right now, I want to thank all the fans that gave me support while I was in the hospital. They gave me encouragement while I was down, and I want to say the fans are basically on the same level as God right now for giving me all types of encouragement.”

Characterized by head coach Charlie Strong and the assistant coaches as someone who never takes his foot off the pedal, it’s expected that Mauldin will show the same type of drive in the training room as he is known for on the field.

“I’ll go hard at anything I do,” Mauldin said. “If I’m in the training room, I’ll go as hard as I can because I know the team needs me. Whether it’s on the field, in the classroom, or in the training, I try to give 110 percent at everything I do.”

Louisville’s medical staff, which has shown it’s capable of churning out effective and impressive results, evident by Senorise Perry’s rapid return, will started to work with Mauldin on Wednesday morning and will try to help the defensive end get ready for a quick return.

When describing the pain, Mauldin compared it to the feeling of going through a full team practice. He tried to recall the order of events on Tuesday morning.

“They were trying to get around me,” Mauldin said of the driver of a champagne-colored sedan. “After they got around me and I got contact, I don’t remember anything that happened after that.”

Showing a bit of humor, Mauldin explained his likely future transportation.

“Right now, I’m going to invest in a car,” Mauldin said. “Something that is covering me completely, and I when I get into an accident, knock on wood, it doesn’t do as much damage as it did.”

Football Team's Focus Shifts to Mauldin

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University of Louisville football head coach Charlie Strong and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson each spoke about Lorenzo Mauldin and his value to the Cardinals in terms of character and leadership.

Shawn Watson Post-Practice Interview

For the past few months, and even more so this week, talk surrounding the city of Louisville was dominated by Cardinal football and the team’s much anticipated season opener versus Ohio at home on Sept. 1.

However, junior Lorenzo Mauldin became the topic of discussion on Tuesday morning after he was struck on his moped in a hit-and-run accident on Floyd Street near the school’s Yum! Center, less than a mile from the football complex.

Following Tuesday’s evening practice session, head coach Charlie Strong spoke with the media about Mauldin.

“I know everyone is concerned about Lorenzo Mauldin,” Strong stated. “He’s going to stay overnight tonight in the hospital for just tests and observations and then we’ll know more about it tomorrow.”

Strong, the coaching staff, and the team’s medical personnel rushed to area where the accident occurred to see Mauldin and then Strong drove to Jewish Hospital in downtown Louisville.

“When I saw him (in the hospital), he was in the emergency room, so I just didn’t have a chance to see him from where they get all the tests done,” Strong said. “I had a conversation with him later on.”

Mauldin, a 6-foot-4, 243-pounds defensive end, had 6.5 tackles for loss in 2012, including a team-best 4.5 sacks. Mauldin has played in 24 career games for the Cardinals.

Strong, when asked about Mauldin, said, “He’s not only an outstanding player, but an outstanding person.

“He’s grown up a lot and matured a lot since he’s been here. The players here really respect him and like him.”

Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson echoed Strong’s feelings and said it’s been incredible to see how Mauldin has grown in the Cardinals’ program.

“Lorenzo came here, and he was the shyest person any of us ever had met,” Watson said. “He is a totally different person two years later. The transformation in his life made him a totally different person. He’s dear to all of us.

“He’s always in our facility. You’d think he was a member of our staff. He’s always there. I think he had just left here. I did not see him, but the defensive guys said he was just in the office. He’s always here. The players and coaches alike have a love and affection for him.

Football Press Conference Wrap-up

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University of Louisville football head coach Charlie Strong, linebacker Preston Brown, and offensive lineman Jake Smith each spoke with the media on Monday at the weekly press conference about fall camp and the team's season-opener versus Ohio on Sept. 1.

Press Conference Links
Charlie Strong: Audio | Video
Preston Brown: Audio | Video
Jake Smith: Audio | Video

Senorise Perry to Start at Running Back
Head coach Charlie Strong named senior Senorise Perry the team’s starting running back for Sunday’s opener versus Ohio. The Summerville, Ga., native rushed for 705 yards and 11 touchdowns before tearing his ACL in a loss to Syracuse last October. Perry had surgery in late October, but has been full-speed for most of camp. Perry lined up in full pads on Aug. 10 for the first full-contact practice.

Perry caught the attention of senior linebacker Preston Brown in the first scrimmage last week and he knew that Perry was all the way back.

“He took the ball in the scrimmage, made a cut and went 55 yards,” Brown said. “I knew right then that he was back from the injury.”

Ohio Gets Cardinals’ Attention
The only thing the Cardinals need to do gain respect for the opponent this week is to turn on the game film. Ohio went to Happy Valley last season and knocked off a solid Penn State team, 24-14. The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 14-3 lead at the half, but the Bobcats responded with 21-unanswered points for the victory.

“Our work is cut out for us,” Strong said of Ohio. “They did get our attention. They went into Happy Valley and beat Penn State. I think Penn State was up early and Ohio came back and beat them.

“I have a lot of respect for Frank Solich. They have been to four-straight bowl games. The key for us this week is the mental approach. Our preparation and focus is going to be key and making sure that our players understand the opponent and respect the opponent they are going to play.”

Tough to Please
Coming from Florida, Strong definitely has lofty expectations. Despite finishing in the top-25 nationally in total defense, Strong hopes his defense will play better. The Cardinals allowed just 340.3 yards per game and just 192.3 yards through the air. However, Strong pointed out that his defense did allow seven 100-yard rushers last season, which certainly troubles a defensive coach.

“I would like to see our defense play at a higher level,” Strong said. “What we have to find on defense now is that we have to dominate front. Our front seven is back. What is key for us on defense is we have to stop the run.”

First Starts
Despite bringing back a veteran team with 19 starters, there will be a few new players receiving their first starts. Right guard will be filled by Chris Acosta, who is taking over for the injured Kamran Joyer. Acosta played in just five games as a reserve last season, but will start on Sunday versus Ohio. Tight end Gerald Christian could also be a player who could gets his first start after transferring from Florida.

Depth on the Offensive Line
Strong said he would like to have seven or eight guys on the offensive line who he can play with and feel comfortable. Strong noted that both Nacho Garcia and Ryan Mack will play at tackle and that starting tackle Jamon Brown can play both tackle positions. Strong also noted that Jake Smith is also able to move back to his guard position if needed at any time.

Football Ends Training Camp, Interacts with Former Lettermen

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The University of Louisville football team ended fall camp on Saturday, and the Cardinals return to the practice fields this week in preparation for the season opener versus Ohio on Sept. 1.

Post-Practice Interviews: Charlie Strong | Teddy Bridgewater

Strong Invites Former Players Back
Since taking over the program, Strong has started a tradition of inviting former players to practice and having a cookout after to spend time with players and families who came before the current group.

About 150 players attended practice in the stadium on Saturday.

“It’s great to have them back,” Strong said. “They put so much into the program. They are the reason why we are here and we want them to be a part of it.”

Changes to Card March
This week, the athletic department will release changes in Card March. The time will remain the same, which is two hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff, but a new drop-off location for the team will be announced.  The department also will release some changes coming to the stadium this fall.

Bridgewater Plays Ohio
It’s no secret that junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater enjoys playing video games. He revealed to the media after practice on Saturday that he played against Ohio in NCAA College Football. He said he went 25-of-27 against the Bobcats and the two incompletions were dropped passes.

“Gerald Christian dropped one of my passes,” Bridgewater said. “I can’t remember who dropped the other, but Christian definitely dropped one.”

Rankins Returns to Practice
Sophomore defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins returned to practice on Saturday for the first time since hurting his ankle during the first week camp. He sat out of workouts until this morning when he was able to participate. He will likely see time at defensive tackle, where he appeared in 10 games a year ago.

Football Begins Ohio Preparations

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The Cardinals have begun their preparations for Ohio. Louisville completed its installations and began game planning for the Sept. 1 game against a team that went 9-4 and won the Independence Bowl.

Ohio was picked to win Mid-American Conference East Division crown for the second-consecutive season. The team returns 16 starters from last year’s squad, including senior running back Beau Blankenship, who rushed for a single season school record 1,604 yards and is on this year’s Maxwell Award and Doak Walker Award watch lists.

Charlie Strong Press Conference
The first Charlie Strong press conference is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 26, at noon. Fans are encouraged to tune into www.GoCards.com for all the coverage. Also, look for continuous updates on the Cardinals’ football Twitter feed (@UofLFootball). Strong will also host his weekly radio show this Thursday at 7 p.m. on WHAS 84.

Bedford Gives Preston Brown High Praise
Senior linebacker Preston Brown, a second team all-league performer last season, led the Cardinals in tackles in 2012, and it looks like he is aiming to have a repeat performance.

Head coach Charlie Strong and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford each spoke with the media, and Bedford had nothing but positive comments about Brown.

“Preston Brown is having an outstanding camp,” Bedford said following Thursday’s practice. “He has to be our leader. If he steps up to play, we can have a good football team.”

Cardinals Getting Healthy
The 2013 fall camp has been extremely physical and demanding as has been every Charlie Strong camp since he took over the program. Louisville has practiced for 17-straight days without a day off and will receive its first day off on Sunday. Damian Copeland, Deon Rogers and Marcus Smith, who have missed a little time, returned to practice this week.

Football Finishes Two-a-Days, Turning Focus to Ohio

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Cardinals Spend time with the Band
After practice on Tuesday morning, head coach Charlie Strong brought his entire football team down to the game field to where the marching band was practicing for the 2013 football season. The team sang the alma mater with the band and also sang along to the fight song.

"What we sometimes forget is just how hard other people work," Strong said after the exercise. "We just wanted to make sure that we let (the marching band) know we support them, just like they support us. It gave our players a chance to learn the alma mater."

Along with Strong, defensive ends Lorenzo Mauldin and Deiontrez Mount spoke with the media following the band session.

No More Two’s
The Cardinals completed their fourth two-a-day on Tuesday. It is the last day of two practices and they can start tapering practices down to prepare for the season-opener.

“We just completed the last two-a-day,” Strong said. “We have our last one tonight. It was a warm day for the players, but they came out and worked. They want to get done with the two-a-days and prepare for our opponent with Ohio.”

School Starts
The Cardinals will get their first day off from camp on Sunday as they prepare for the start of classes on Monday, Aug. 26.

Veteran Defense
When the Cardinals take the field on Sept. 1, they will do so with a veteran defense. The players listed as the starters have a combined 167 career starts. Senior Hakeem Smith has a team-high 38 and fellow classmate Preston Brown owns 24. Every player in the starting lineup has at least one career start on defense.

Football Endures Long Weekend, Set to Finish Two-A-Days

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Long Weekend
After a grueling weekend that featured a scrimmage and three practices in two days, the Cardinals returned the practice field on Monday evening for one of the shorter practices of fall camp. The Cardinals worked for a little under two hours in full pads.

Following practice, placekicker John Wallace and running backs/special teams coach Kenny Carter each spoke with the media.

Last Two-A-Day
The Cardinals will conduct their last two-a-day and fourth of the fall on Tuesday. Louisville is scheduled to work out from 8:45-10:45 a.m. and again at 6 p.m.

ESPN Talent
The Cardinals will get one of ESPN's finer crews for the Sept. 1 opener versus Ohio. Joe Tessitore, host of College Football Live and the Saturday night ESPN game, will work as the play-by-announcer, and Matt Millen will be the analyst. A former linebacker for the NFL's Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Redskins, Millen also served for nearly eight years as president and CEO of the Detroit Lions.

A Wide Move
True freshman Richard Benjamin, who entered the camp as a cornerback, was moved to wide receiver on Saturday.

Saturday Football Notes and Nuggets

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Teaser: Football garners its highest AP preseason ranking at No. 9; running back competition remains strong with the "five-headed monster" and offensive line continues to show steady progress leading into the season opener.

Friday's Football Practice Notes

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Cardinals Prepare for Saturday’s Scrimmage
The Cardinals had one practice on Friday morning before the first big scrimmage of the fall on Saturday. Practicing in full pads, the Cardinals continue to work hard in preparation for the opener just 16 days away. The Cardinals conducted a lot of two-minute work to close practice with the first three units.

Gardner Progressing
Redshirt freshman quarterback Will Gardner continues to get better and better each day of practice. The 6-foot-5 signal caller looks to have a better grasp of his reads and is putting the football right where it needs to be. He looked extremely sharp during Friday’s workout.

Sibiea Moves to Offense
Redshirt freshman Pedro Sibiea has moved to the offensive side of the football. Recruited as a defensive tackle, Sibiea worked on defense the first 10 practices before being moved to offensive guard. He is currently running with the second unit.

Fan Day
The Cardinals will work out in helmets and shoulder pads for Sunday’s Fan Day. The Cardinal will begin practice at 2:45 p.m.

Strong Discusses Wednesday's Practice

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Charlie Strong | Kenny Carter | Senorise Perry | Dominique Brown

The football team was greeted by cooler temperatures when it took the field for Wednesday’s practice. Head coach Charlie Strong conducted a lengthy practice that included the first scrimmage of the fall. He addressed the media following practice and here is a brief synopsis of his comments.

On Wednesday’s Practice
“Today, we were able to put the ball down for the first time and let them scrimmage a little. We are going to look at the film and see where they are right now.”

On where the team is now
“You just like their attitude and how hard they are working. What we have to realize is that we have issues on the offensive line. We need to find some back-ups. Our defensive front, we just have more guys there, so they are overpowering the offensive line.”

On the running back competition
“They are competing well because they are all competitors. They will continue to compete.  You still have Senorise (Perry), Dominique (Brown) with Corvin Lamb, Brandon Radcliff and Michael Dyer.”

On Jermaine Reve and the field cornerback position
“Jermaine Reve started their last year, so he still has some work to do. We have Charles Gaines there, Andrew Johnson, Devontre Parnell there, so we have some guys.”

On Senorise Perry
“Because of his injury, we will not practice him two practices (in a row), but he is going well. We had a goal line scrimmage out there yesterday so he took some hits.”

On being able to run the football
“We are a balanced offense, so our running game is very important to us, so we have to be able to run the football and that is the way you are going to establish toughness in your football team.”

Second Two-A-Day
Louisville conducts its second two-a-day session on Thursday. The Cardinals hit the field at 8:45 a.m.

Football Starts Tough Two-a-Day Sessions

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Kickoff Luncheon Photo Gallery

Dog Days for the Cardinals
At the Kickoff Luncheon on Tuesday, University of Louisville football head coach Charlie Strong joked with the crowd about the practice habits of his football team. He said Monday’s practice was awful and that he either way he was going to get hard work out of them, whether they like it or not.

On Tuesday, Strong definitely got it out of them, as the Cardinals put in a long day. It started early this morning with a 6 a.m. practice. The Cardinals went for over two hours in full pads before heading to the luncheon. After meetings, the Cardinals hit the practice field again at 6 p.m. for the second practice of the day.

Goal line Dominance
Before the Cardinals could even break a sweat Tuesday morning, Strong put the team on the goal line in full pads. The defense dominated the drill, stopping the offense 17 times in 19 plays. The defensive line was a little thin with some bruises up front, but there is still plenty of talent to boast.

“We had a goal line scrimmage this morning. We really got after it,” defensive iine coach Clint Hurtt said after Tuesday’s practice. “We had 17 stops, which really shouldn’t happen. We are turning the young guys into leaders.”

Fan Day
Coach Strong said the Cardinals will practice in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for the fans on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 2:45 p.m.

Hurtt Pleased with Fall Camp
“We are accomplishing so much,” Hurtt said. “The maturity of this football team has gotten better, with the leadership with Teddy (Bridgewater) and the other seniors on the football team that are rising up. It’s just amazing to see how far we have come, but we still have so far to go. We are right there knocking on the door. As we get closer and closer to that first game, we are going to kick it in and be ready to play.”

Hurtt on the Defensive Line
“The last couple of years we have dealt with the injuries, so we continue to rebound. The depth is good and the guys are doing well, and we are getting healthy. This is the first time since we have been here that we have a senior-laden football team.”

Cardinals Wrap Up Seventh Practice; Gain National Expsoure

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The University of Louisville football team conducted its seventh practice of fall camp on Monday afternoon. Once again, rain forced the Cardinals to adjust their schedule.

Saturday's Overview from Football Practice

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Saturday’s Overview
The University of Louisville football team practiced for the fifth time on Saturday, but this time the Cardinals put full pads on to really signify the start of fall camp.

Head coach Charlie Strong put the Cardinals through a grueling 25-period practice that was one of the more physical sessions during the Strong era. The Cardinals did two-full periods of the Oklahoma Drill, where there was plenty of contact. Running back Dominique Brown recorded the hit of the day, when he ran over a defensive back that was attempting to stop the 226-pound Brown.

“The seven-on-seven is over for the most part and we got to pop the pads and see who really wants to play,” senior linebacker Preston Brown said after practice.

“There was a couple of ooh’s and aah’s, but I’m not going to through anyone under the bus,” Brown said when he was asked if anyone was run over.

Dyer Gets His Chance
The highly-anticipated debut in pads for running back Michael Dyer took place on Saturday morning. Getting his first opportunity for contact, Dyer showed he isn’t afraid to draw a hit and would rather run through defenders than around them.

“He is a physical runner,” Brown said. “His main goal is to try to run you over. He has the moves to get by you, but he tries to shake you up and likes to lower his shoulder and then lower his head on you.”

Perry Returns to Full Contact
The other return that was eagerly awaited was from running back Senorise Perry, who missed the last six games in 2012 after tearing his ACL against Syracuse. After running for 705 yards and 11 scores, Perry was on pace to rush for 1,000 yards before the injury. After 10 months of rehabilitation, Perry went through full contact drills and looked as strong as ever.

“Senorise looked great today,” Preston Brown said. “He got the first step and when he got into the open field today, no one could catch him.”

Chucky’s Here!
Former Champagnat Catholic School product Chucky Williams qualified for school and arrived on campus Friday evening. Williams worked out at safety on Saturday morning, but NCAA rules limited him to work out in helmet and shorts.

Friday's Football Practice Report and Notes

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Head coach Charlie Strong will hold the annual kickoff luncheon on Tuesday.

Rain Go Away
The University of Louisville football team conducted its fourth practice of fall camp during severe weather on Friday afternoon. The Cardinals worked out for the first 50 minutes out in a steady downpour, but heavy rain forced the Cardinals into the Trager Center indoor practice facility. Louisville conducted the last 14 periods of practice inside.

Pads on Saturday
Expect the intensity to hit a new high when the Cardinals put the pads on for the first time on Saturday. Head coach Charlie Strong will start off practice with the “Circle Drill” before setting up the cones for the vaunted Oklahoma Drill, which pits wide receivers versus defensive backs, the tight ends versus the linebackers, and the offensive line versus defensive line.

New Uniforms
The Cardinals’ new game jerseys arrived on Friday. The only noticeable change is the fact that the numbers have a different look due to a different font face.

Kickoff Luncheon
The Cardinals will play host to the 2013 Kickoff Luncheon on Tuesday at the Downtown Marriott. The event is sold out, with an expected attendance of 1,400.

Butler Thinks He Scored
Senior B.J. Butler made one of the biggest plays in the Sugar Bowl win over Florida. Butler, who was moved to tight end, recorded a 27-yard touchdown that was reviewed, but replays showed he was down at the one-yard line.

“After the bowl game, I went home and watched the game again,” Butler said. ”If you look from Florida’s sideline, I didn’t think I got in, but if you look from our sideline, I thought I scored.”

Football Holds First Closed Practice

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Interviews: Vance Bedford | Shawn Watson | Teddy Bridgewater | Abraham Garcia | Dominique Brown | Lorenzo Mauldin | Marcus Smith | Ryan Hubbell | Senorise Perry
Audio: Vance Bedford | Shawn Watson
Podcast: Click Here

The Cardinals closed the gates, strapped on the shoulder pads for the first time this fall on Thursday and practiced behind closed doors for two hours. Head coach Charlie Strong said the team will put on full pads Friday.

Sophomore cornerback Jermaine Reve, who has moved into the starting role, said the speed of practice definitely picked up on Thursday.

“The tempo today was fast,” Reve said following practice. “There were some guys who weren’t used to the tempo and the speed out there, but we had good work and we are going to continue to keep working.”

“We put some things in today so you are a little sloppy on a few things,” tight ends coach Sherrone Moore said. “The things we did put in and repeated, they did well. All in all, it was a productive day.”

The Cardinals have done a good job of making interceptions through the first three practices. This time, cornerback Andrew Johnson made a nice pick on a Teddy Bridgewater throw.

Senorise Perry and Dominique Brown worked out with the first team at running backs and split most of the reps.

Junior wide receiver Michaelee Harris continues to be brought along slowly. Limited to just light running and running routes on the side, Harris is still recovering from a knee injury that cost him the 2012 season.

Moore Enjoying Stable of Tight Ends

Tight ends coach Sherrone Moore is benefitting from a solid stable of tight ends this season after scraping by last season. Moore talked a little after practice about the tight ends.

“This group has a chance to be pretty good,” Moore said. “They are doing some good things and working hard. Ryan Hubbell was here all last year and played a lot. We moved Jalen Harrington and B.J. Butler to tight end, and then we added Gerald Christian.

“Zeke Pike is coming along and has done a great job. He is still learning the position, but he is progressing and freshman Keith Towbridge is doing some really good things. It’s more depth than we had at the position (last year).”

Post-Practice Interviews: Charlie Strong | Ron Dugans | Eli Rogers | Damian Copeland

The University of Louisville football team held its second fall practice of the 2013 season on Wednesday at the practice fields near Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Charles Gaines and Gerod Holliman each made their presences known on defense in front of the estimated 1,000 fans. Gaines, who continues to show strides transitioning from wide receiver to defensive back, had an interception for the second-straight day. Likewise, Holliman also intercepted a pass thrown toward his back shoulder late in the practice. He also had a pick on Tuesday.

Wide Receivers Garner Praise

On Monday, head coach Charlie Strong labeled the wide receiving corps as the Cardinals’ most talented position group.

While wide receivers coach Ron Dugans was caught off guard by the remark, he smiled and said his group carries an air of confidence on to the field.

“We know our role, and that’s the biggest thing,” Dugans said. “Every guy at that position, the receiving corps, is we know our role. The biggest thing is - even if we’re not the strength of the team, we still feel that way. Those guys feel that way. It’s no pressure. We go out and practice hard all the time because these guys want to be the best receiving corps in the country, not just in the conference and not just the best receiver individually on the football field.

“One thing about this group is they play together. They don’t care who’s getting the ball. They know if this guy makes a play, then that’s good for me as well. These guys don’t care about who’s getting the ball. They just want to go out and make plays and help the team.”

In addition to veterans such as Damian Copeland, Eli Rogers, and DeVante Parker, newcomers Robert Clark, James Quick and Matt Milton are expected to immediately compete for playing time and have a significant impact on the field.

Toward the beginning of Dugans’ interview, he spoke highly about local phenom Quick and how he’s impressed about the Trinity High product’s attitude.

“The thing that he’s done in the offseason is he’s picked it up in the classroom,” Dugans said. “He’s done some really good things in the classroom - studying film, studying the playbook - and it’s showing out here on the football field.”

Media Day Scheduled for Thursday

The University of Louisville football program is scheduled to hold its annual media day on Thursday inside Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson begins the festivities from the podium at noon, and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford follows at approximately 12:30 p.m.

While head coach Charlie Strong meets on an individual basis with each of the media outlets, 15 players will be available to speak with the media members.

Comments from the podium will be streamed live on CardsTV. Interviews from the day’s events will be posted later in the day on GoCards.com.

Football Wraps Up First Practice

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Interviews: Charlie Strong | Teddy Bridgewater | Preston Brown

Following the first practice of the 2013 campaign, University of Louisville football head coach Charlie Strong, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and linebacker Preston Brown each spoke with the media.

Strong said in his opening remarks that it was “fun to get back around this football team.” He went on to talk about the pace of the practice, and Bridgewater and Brown talked their position groups during the session.

SiriusXM to broadcast from Louisville on Wednesday

SiriusXM College Sports Nation - SiriusXM’s 24-hour college sports talk channel - will broadcast live from Louisville football camp in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

Heisman trophy winner Eddie George and college football expert Chris Childers will be on site broadcasting live from 3-6 p.m. ET. The show can be heard nationwide on SiriusXM College Sports Nation, channel 91 on satellite radios, on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App and online at SiriusXM.com.

The visit is a part of the annual “SiriusXM College Sports Nation Camp Tour” which will cover 20 college football camps in 21 days to give fans a wide-ranging and detailed preview of the 2013 season. On each three hour broadcast, listeners will get in-depth analysis of each program by SiriusXM’s expert hosts, as well as one-on-one interviews with coaches and players.

Football Notes Prior to Camp

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Charlie Strong Press Conference: Video | Audio
Podcast: Click Here

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."

Fan Day
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.

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