March 20, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky.- The winter temperatures forced the University of Louisville football team inside for the first day of spring practice for head coach Charlie Strong.
Despite the cold weather outside, there was a flurry of activity inside the Trager Indoor Practice Facility Strong and his staff welcomed the team, including 53 lettermen, to its initial session in preparation for the 2013 football season.
"It was a good day today," said Strong. "We came out today and the attitude was right. It's good that we have a veteran team. The guys know exactly what to do and where to go."
The Cardinals went through a 25-period session in the Trager, where the offense was in red jerseys and the defense was in white jerseys. The quarterbacks wore yellow jerseys and those recovering from injuries were in green.
Strong, who enters his fourth season as head coach, is having the luxury of coaching his first senior class since arriving at Louisville in 2010. For the first time since taking over, this is truly Strong's team.
"The approach is different now that you have an older group of guys," said Strong. "It's our first senior class since we've been here. They understand the work and they understand what to expect from the coaches."
The Cardinals led off the practice with individual drills with their position coaches before breaking up into team work. After sitting out last season, Strong and the coaching staff had the opportunity to see and work into the rotation a number of transfers, who will be put into the fold.
"We got a good look at Gerald Christian, and we got a good look at Robert Clark," said Strong. "We were able to see Zeke Pike. We got an opportunity to throw guys in there to learn the plays and see what they were able to do on the field."
Strong met with the media for about 10 minutes in the team room following the practice. Here is what he had to say about:
On the approach to this season: "The approach is different now that you have an older group of guys. It's our first senior class that we have been here. "
Difference between this spring and last spring: "It's a lot different because you have you team now. It's a team that is coming off a Sugar Bowl and they have a lot of confidence."
On replacing some offensive linemen: "With us playing a lot of guys last season, we were able to play Ryan Mack a lot and we played Abraham Garcia. We had a chance to play a lot of guys. We need to get Joe Manley ready and we need T.C. Klusman to come on. We have Kamran Joyer coming back off an injury. We just have to make sure we get everyone a lot of reps."
On Dominique Brown: Two years and go, he was a starter at that position so now we get him back. He was injured last season and had a season to heal up. With him being healthy, we have a running back in place."
The message to the team: It's all about the team. We have a lot of individual talent on this team, but it's all about the team. No one can achieve anything without the team working together."
-A handful of players will be limited in their spring activities as they recover from injuries and/or surgeries, including FB Luke Brohm, LB Tyon Dixon, WR Michaelee Harris, CB Andrew Johnson, LB Deiontrez Mount, RB Senorise Perry, DT Roy Philon, DT Sheldon Rankins, RB Corvin Lamb, WR Matt Milton.
-Jersey numbers for the two early enrollees from the 2013 recruiting class are the following: 12 Brett Nelson and 25 Finnesse Middleton.
-The Cardinals had three transfers who weren't eligible last season, but are eligible to compete. Florida transfers Robert Clark and Gerald Christian are going to be impact players, while tight end Zeke Pike, a transfer from Auburn, is also able to compete this season.
- Quarterback Will Gardner, who sat out last season with a knee injury, saw his first action with the Cardinals in drills on Wednesday. Brett Nelson, a junior-college transfer, also worked with the offense for the first time.
The Cardinals will practice Friday in shorts before putting on the pads for the first time in front of the fans on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.