Expectations are high for the 2013 University of Louisville football team but Charlie Strong says he’s not feeling any pressure to win “a certain way” in order to impress the voters in the college football polls.
“No I really don’t. I tell our players, ‘As long as our coaches prepare you the right way and you go out with the right mental approach to the game. On that day, we have to be at our best. Play your best. That’s all that matters.’”
All the pre-season chatter, the national buzz, the analytical speculation — it’s all just noise, as far as Strong is concerned. His top priority is assuring that his team keeps getting better. “Either you’re growing or you’re dying. getting better or becoming complacent, self-absorbed or cocky. We have to respect our opponents. It’s all about us and the way we play and how we go about our business.”
Strong believe his team will be focused with his largest senior class in four years, bringing a more mature approach to the game. “Winning the Sugar Bowl was good for them but they also understand that they have to really work now because the level of expectation has risen, and they want to set the standard for the program.”
One of his challenges is identifying the primary running back. ‘I have no idea how we’re going to split those carriers yet because we have so many good ones in Senorise Perry, Dominique Brown, and Michael Dyer, and we have Corvin Lamb in the mix,” he said. “There’s only one ball and we want to throw the football, too.
Strong confirmed, however, that Senorise Perry will be the starting back, largely because of his track record and his impressive recovery from knee surgery during the off season. “He deserves it. He was our starter up until the Syracuse game. The way he played during our training camp you would never know he had a knee injury at all. I held him out of a couple of practices, and he wanted to know why.”
He said that kickoff returns are likely to be handled from a mix of Corvin Lamb, Robert Clark, Eli Rogers, James Quick and Kai De La Cruz. “We have all those little cats back there,” he said. “What’s going to be critical is for our guys to block somebody,” he said. “We did a pretty poor job [last year} of blocking.”
The coach praised Cruz (who changed his name from Dominguez during the off season) for having an unbelievable training camp. “I told him that he had matured, becoming a different person,” he said. “He came our way because we weren’t going to go his way. If you stay with this program long enough, you are going to make the turn.”
The full measure of the team’s overall growth and maturity will be tested on Sunday against a very good Ohio University team.