Aug. 5, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky.- The University of Louisville football team reports to the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex Monday evening, but UofL head coach Charlie Strong got a jump on the season by addressing the media on Monday afternoon.
Strong opened his initial press conference of the 2013 season by welcoming formmer BCS Most Valuable player Michael Dyer to the program. The former Auburn standout was added to the roster on Monday, and will add to a deep and talented backfield.
"Everything is going to be new to him (Dyer)," Strong said. "You think about it, this is going to be a totally new system, but with our coaching staff, we will be able to bring him along pretty well."
Dyer hasn't played since the 2011 season since leading the Tigers with 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns, but will be thrust into a lineup that features two upperclassmen with junior Dominique Brown and senior Senorise Perry. However, both backs are coming off knee injuries, and Dyer gives the Cardinals another weapon. Brown missed the entire season with an MCL injury and Perry tore his ACL in October after rushing for 705 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Coming off an 11-2 season a year ago, and with expectations soaring, Strong has tried to temper the unlofty outlooks to the season by keeping his team humble and hungry.
"What happens when you get the expectations that we have built right now, just go play your best and win the football game," Strong said. "When you start off the season with high expectations, you want the guys to go play their best and enjoy winning. This is the first time we have been ranked this high in the preseason rankings. Everything is falling into place."
For the first time since Strong's arrival in 2009, the Cardinals are a veteran unit and don't have to rely on a bunch of freshmen to come in and fill major roles. With 19 starters back and the loss of just four starters, the Cardinals hope they can red-shirt most of this class and continue to build depth.
"It's so hard to say what position," Strong said when asked about the freshmen class. "If a freshman comes in and ends up playing, they out-worked the upperclassmen, and that's the upperclassmen's fault. We have built it through recruiting and that's good that we are in this position. We don't have to wait for that freshman to come in and solidify a position."
Picked to win the American Conference this season, and the Cardinals likely to be the favorite in every game, Louisville has to stay focused to reach their potential, and Strong knows the bulls-eye will be large across the Cardinals' back.
"What's going to be key for us this is year, is can this team get focused and can this team get prepared each and every week to go play at a high level and where we can go be the best on that day," Strong added. "That's what is going to be critical for this football team."
One mantra going around the whole athletic department is "Stay Humble and Hungry." Strong had that slogan placed on t-shirts last year and wants this team to continue to be hungry and avoid complacency.
"When you become the hunted, you feel like you have arrived and you stop. I always say, guys we are the hunter," Strong said. "We will continue to get better each and every week. We have not arrived. We are still the same team that has to strive to get better."
The long trek to what the Cardinals hope will be a successful season begins tomorrow when practice begins in shorts and helmets at 5:15 p.m. at the Schnellenberger Football Complex.
Strong will get his first opportunity tomorrow to see if this team is ready to live up to all the expectations and continue to hunt.