Head coach Charlie Strong met with reporters on the practice fields at the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex on Wednesday evening following the Cardinals’ second practice session of this bye week. With no opponent on the schedule for Saturday, No. 16 Louisville (5-0) is using the week to focus on fundamentals before returning to normal game week preparations next week prior to the BIG EAST Conference opener at Pittsburgh.
“We’ve had two good days of practice,” said Strong. “What you try to do now with the open week is refine the fundamentals and the technique and that’s what’s critical right now. We know we have to get better during these two weeks before we go play Pittsburgh. During this week, they get more individual drills with our coaches and you’re able to work on tackling, blocking with the linemen, receiver routes and all of the fundamentals with each position.”
BIG EAST Schedule Presents New Season
With only the seven-game BIG EAST Conference slate remaining on the Cardinals’ 2012 schedule, Strong and his coaching staff have already started preparing the team for the many challenges that await. With a league title and a Bowl Championship Series berth at stake, Louisville cannot afford to have a bad week and expect to win. The coaches know the Cardinals must be even better than they have been in opening with five straight wins.
“Every game now is a new season and every game counts from here out, so we know we have to improve,” Strong explained. “We have to play better than what we’ve been playing because all of these games are very critical for us. It’s a one game season each week. We have to get ready to go play.”
Bye Week is No Off Week for the Cards
Having already worked through the first two sessions of their first bye week of the season, Louisville players have experienced firsthand what the coaches are expecting to accomplish. Just because the Cardinals have more than a week before their next game doesn’t mean they’ll be working at a slower pace or that things won’t be intense each afternoon. There are goals in place and specific areas that will be addressed during what the coaches consider an important week for the team.
“What I tell them is that this won’t be like a game week in practice, so you’ll have some time for yourself. But, this is no time to take a week off either because we’re going to practice and we’re going to go,” said Strong. “You guys understand that before we walk through that gate, I’m going to get it out of you. If you don’t want to practice hard then we’ll go back out that gate and I’ll start practice over. We’re going to get the time we need.”
Relationships the Key to Kenny Carter’s Success
During Wednesday’s media session, Strong was asked about his decision upon being hired as the Cardinals’ head coach to offer an assistant coaching position to Kenny Carter. Though he wasn’t sure if Carter would join the program as Louisville’s running backs coach, Strong knew he had the talent, experience and people skills needed to lead the Cardinals’ running backs to a new level.
“I knew right away that I was going to bring Kenny with me,” Strong said. “I didn’t know if he would leave the University of Florida at the time. He has a lot of energy and he has the passion to coach. What he does is he has a great relationship with his running backs. You look at year one and Bilal Powell played well. In year two we were just trying to find us a running back and now this year, you’re looking at two running backs that are playing very well. He’s an outstanding coach. The relationship he has with his players is why they end playing the way they play. They play for him.”