Sept. 30, 2013
MONDAY'S PRESS CONFERENCE LINKS
Charlie ~nbsp>Strong: Video | Audio | Transcript
Jamon ~nbsp>Brown: Video | Audio
Brandon ~nbsp>Dunn: Video | Audio
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Fresh off its first bye week of the season, the seventh-ranked University of Louisville football team hits the road to begin American Athletic Conference action when the Cardinals play at Temple in a noon kickoff. The game is an ESPN Regional broadcast and will be shown locally on WHAS TV.
Following one of three open weeks, the Cardinals are well-rested and ready to open up league action against the Owls, who dropped a 26-24 decision to Idaho last Saturday. It dropped the Owls to 0-4 on the season, which includes three decisions by a combined 10 points. The other loss was a 28-6 defeat at Notre Dame to open the season.
“Any time there is a coaching change, you have to find your niche,” head coach Charlie Strong said at his Monday press conference. “You look at them offensively. The quarterback they had last year, they moved him to wide receiver. They try to run the zone read with the quarterback and they throw the ball a lot. They are throwing more this year than last year. Last year, they were more of a running team.
“Defensively, they have one of the leading tacklers in their middle linebacker in the conference. It is a team who is still trying to find their niche and find out who they are.”
Louisville breezed through the non-conference portion of its schedule, out-scoring the opposition 192-27, including a 72-0 win over FIU on Sept. 21. After winning 10-straight nonconference games, the schedule flips to league action, where every game counts toward the race to a conference championship and a BCS bowl berth.
The Cardinals are picked to win the league this season, but Strong knows the Cardinals must continue to focus on improving from within and taking care of business each week and not worry about the team lining up on the other side of the football.
“I know that we’re in a conference right now where some of the teams have left, like Pittsburgh and Syracuse, but we still have to go play,” Strong said. “It doesn’t matter what team or who the opponent is, it’s all about us preparing our team to go play and making sure we have no slip-ups ourselves. It’s all about Temple this week and not to look ahead at anyone else. Let’s just make sure that we stay focused and that our mindset is all about getting a great game plan in and making sure our team is ready to go lock in and play the next game.”
Winning games by an average of 41.3 points, Strong and his staff have the challenge of getting this team to focus on the task at hand and play one game at a time. With his past teams, Strong might have been forced to worry about them not being ready to play, but with a squad full of upperclassmen, he doesn’t worry about complacency.
“No, because what I always talk about with our players is going out and just being the best that you can be and go and compete at a high level,” Strong said. “The standard has been raised here, so let’s make sure that we don’t lower our standard and don’t play down to the level of our competition. If we think we’re better, then let’s go out and show everyone that we’re better. Now, if we don’t and just mess around for four quarters, then we’re going to go out without the focus and have the chance to lose a football game, but it’s all about us too preparing. As a coaching staff, how we prepare our players to go play.”
The Cardinals are heavy favorites again to move to 5-0 on the season, but he expects his football team to be ready to practice on Tuesday, and be ready for Saturday’s game against Temple.
“You have to tell them that it is all about us and all about our preparation,” Strong said. “It is all about going to be the best. If you are going to be the best team, you are going to have to play like it. The leadership of the team has to take over the team now. What is critical is that guys have to understand that we might be the best team, but we have to play the best on game day.”
Most teams, who have played well and won games rather easily, would most likely just go through the motions, but Strong feels like his team is tuned into his message and will continue to prepare each week like the championship-caliber team that their head coach thinks that they should be each and every week.
“I think they are buying into it, just because of the way they are going out and competing,” Strong said. “If you get the leaders of your team to buy in, which we have been able to do so far. You look at us on offense with Teddy (Bridgewater), Jake Smith, and running backs competing. Then DeVante (Parker) and (Damian) Copeland at the wide receiver position, along with Gerald Christian being added in with Robert Clark. I think those guys want to go and compete at the highest level. Then on defense, you look at it right now with Preston Brown, (Calvin) Pryor, Brandon Dunn, (Roy) Philon, Marcus (Smith), and (Lorenzo) Mauldin, just the way they are competing.”
The Cardinals will get the message loud and clear because Strong will drive it home in every meeting and every practice. And if the Cardinals adhere to the message like they have in their first four games, the Cardinals will show what a top-10 team looks like and open conference play in the right fashion.