Originally posted on No 2 Minute Warning  |  Last updated 7/31/13
Everything Louisville does well in the 2013 season will be compared to one game nationally. Louisville’s impressive display in a Sugar Bowl victory against the Florida Gators last bowl season has helped put lofty expectations for the 2013 Cardinals entering the new year, with some suggesting the Cardinals could possibly make a run at playing for a BCS championship if all goes to plan. To the surprise of nearly nobody, Louisville was the clear favorite in the preseason media poll in the American. Louisville received 28 of 30 first place votes, with Cincinnati receiving the remaining two first place votes. After going 11-2 last season, capped by a dominant victory over a strong SEC program in the Sugar Bowl, and bringing back Heisman hopeful Teddy Bridgewater and with the possible addition of running back Michael Dyer it is possible Louisville manages to put together a perfect season. I am not 100 percent certain Louisville does not avoid an upset along the way but if Louisville reaches the regular season finale against Cincinnati without a loss I certainly would not be surprised. That game could very well determine the conference champion, or which school receives the potential BCS bid. This Louisville team is really good, but are they great? Head coach Charlie Strong believes there are unrealistic expectations being placed on his team this season, which to many probably comes off with coach speak at its finest. On a day when coaches from around the conference sold the message of one game at a time, Strong’s statements about his team managed to raise some eyebrows around the room at Hotel Viking. “Our players work really hard, but there’s been really some real unrealistic expectations placed upon this football team,” Strong said. “And the thing we’re going to have to do as a team is a lot of questions has to be answered. Number one, we’ll be a team that can continue to focus week in and week out. Can we be a team that’s going to be prepared week in week out?” Strong reflected on how Louisville started the 2012 season well but was handled by Syracuse for their first loss of the year and followed with a home loss to Connecticut the next week. “Is this going to be a team that’s going to get complacent?” Strong asked, suggesting it is his job to ensure that doesn’t happen. Strong recalled his time as a Florida assistant to explain why complacency will not be accepted under his watch this season. “I think about that team in ’09 and when [Florida QB Tim] Tebow made that announcement that he was coming back, and on defense that year, we had 21 to 22 returners coming back at Florida. And offensively you had Tebow, you had Percy Harvin, you had the Pounceys, and Riley Cooper, you had some really outstanding players coming back,” Strong recalled. “And what happened with that football team, which I don’t want to see happen with our team, is that when it became a sigh of relief and it was like you win a game, you’re like, ah, we won the game, and you get on to the next one.” The 2009 Florida Gators were the preseason number one according to the Associated Press after winning the 2008 season’s BCS Championship against Oklahoma. That team had defeated top-ranked Alabama for the SEC championship and a shot at the school’s second BCS title. The following season Florida spent the entire season at the top of the polls before losing to second-ranked Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide went on to beat Texas for the BCS championship. “And luckily we did not lose a game until that last game against Alabama in a championship game, and it was devastating,” Strong said. “That’s what I want to see happen to our team is that a loss will come devastating our program because we’re going to have to overcome some adversity.” Strong has been around the game long enough to know that even great teams have off days. He is already predicting that to be the case for Louisville in 2013. He already knows that everything Louisville does this season will have to be impressive, “There’s going to be some games where we’re not going to play,” Strong said. “There will be some games we’re going to be favored and we may walk out of there with a three point victory, but who cares? We won the game. Are people going to say you didn’t beat them by 30? It’s all about us making sure that we maintain our focus and making sure, you know what, guys, at the end of the day, just win the football game.” Will Louisville just go through the motions at some point this season? “I’m not going to allow that to happen where winning becomes a sigh of relief.”
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