September 20, 2012
Away from Home
The Louisville football team takes to the road this weekend for a rematch against FIU. For many of the Cardinals, Teddy Bridgewater included, the trip is a homecoming as the team travels to sunny south Florida. For coach Charlie Strong, it's a business trip and the leader of Louisville doesn't want his team to lose focus on the task at hand. It was just one year ago that FIU came to Louisville and defeated the Cardinals.
"After three home games, we are going to hit the tough part of our schedule. Now, we are going to be away from home actually for a month.
We go two (road games). Then we go to an open week. Then we go to Pittsburgh. What is going to be critical at this time is we maintain our focus. We maintain our emotion and we are going to have to play with confidence and compete. Every second has to count.
Last season, you look at FIU, and they came in here beat us. They actually beat us on two big plays - a 74-yard pass and an 83-yard pass."
On FIU's offense:
"They return eight starters on offense. Their quarterback (Jake) Medlock is playing really well right now. He has not thrown an interception. They have a really good running game in (Darian) Mallary and (Kedrick) Rhodes.
Both of those backs are doing a great job of carrying the football. Not only are they rushing with the ball, but they are doing a great job of coming out of the backfield and catching the football. Then, at wide receiver, Wayne Times has 17 catches. So, you look at them offensively, and they are very multiple on offense. It is a scheme where they run the read.
The quarterback does a good job of running the football and he also does a good job of throwing the ball. It is so critical on defense that we just play within the scheme. We need to make sure we play gaps sound and take care of the responsibilities."
On FIU's defense:
"On defense, they return 10 starters. They have a very good defense. They do a good job of blitzing and mixing it up very well. You look at linebacker and (Winston) Fraser is doing a good job for them, a defensive end by the name of (Tourek) Williams and (Johnathan) Cyprien at strong safety."
On playing on the road:
"What's going to be critical for us is when we go on the road is we have to pack our defense and, defensively, we are going to have to play well. We've got to play well in the kicking game.
The thing the kicking game does is it changes the field position for us. So we have to do a great job in the kicking game. We have to be disciplined and do what we are coached to do. Then, play together. It's going to be critical. Anytime you're on the road, it's your togetherness because it's us against them.
So, as a team, you have to play together. And it's going to be a great challenge for us. This next month is going to be a really good challenge for us.
We are going to see just how strong of a football team we are and how well we can play away from home."
On injury updates:
"(John) Miller's injury at the end of the game was more of a cramp. That's why when you picked him up he didn't go anywhere. He was like, 'Coach, I'm cramping real bad.' But, no one is going to miss this game.
It's all nicks and bruises from Miller to (Adrian) Bushell to Jermaine Reve. (Charles) Gaines is fine. He practiced yesterday. No one is going to miss this game. It is all bumps and bruises."
On Dominique Brown:
"What we are going to do this week is get Dominique out and see if we can run him around and then just see where exactly we are with Dominique."
On the possibility of red-shirting Dominique Brown:
"What you would like to do with Dominique is you have two running backs right now that are playing very well. If something was to happen to one of those running backs, we can always get him ready to go play. That's what we like to do and what we're looking at with him is making sure if something were to happen.
As well as Jeremy Wright's playing right now and as well as Senorise (Perry) is playing that if one of them were to get an injury that we have Dominique ready to go play. If it doesn't happen, then we'll just see where we're at the end of the year because he hasn't played a game yet and he still has a red-shirt season."
On recruiting Miami and convincing recruits to come to Louisville:
"Why it's so good is they get a chance to go through spring practice. There are so many athletes down there in that state. A large number of them don't even get a chance to get looked at because there's just so many.
We always feel like we have an advantage because they are coming from a city to a city. When they come from Miami to Louisville this is a city. A lot of them think it's country. I remember talking
to Teddy (Bridgewater) for the first time and he said, 'Am I going to see a bunch of horses?' I was like, 'No, you are going to see a city.' We go on the outskirts, we will see some nice horse farms or go to Churchill Downs.
Even (James) Burgess was the same way. It's just the mentality because they think Kentucky. A lot of the players there want to leave. With the ties we have - we have so many guys on this coaching staff that have coached in Florida and recruited Miami. So, you already have a built-in relationship with the high school coaches."
On having so many players from Miami:
"What's going to be positive is their families are going to be there, so at least we feel like we're going to have a little crowd because of the number of players we have from south Florida. But, one of the issues can be is that they are all going to want to see them and be around them.
I have some time blocked out for them to see their families, but this is a business trip. We can't have that pleasure. When you have the time to go visit with them, then go visit with them. Still though, we've got to get on with our business too."
On accomplishing the level of maturity needed to finish football games:
"We've just got to continue to work on it. What was amazing and what was really good about that game (North Carolina) is that when the players came into the locker room, there was the feeling that they had
lost the game.
That is what you wanted them to feel like because a year ago you lost a game and you didn't feel as bad as they felt on Saturday. They just felt like they had lost the game. So, 'Hey guys, we won the game. Let's get up. We are 3-0. Let's get moving.' But, they felt like they had lost the game."
On how to work on finishing:
"More than anything you have to talk to them about it. Then, you just talk to them about playing a complete game. It's about staying involved in the game and locked in to the game.
We hit a stretch there where we get a punt blocked, we take a return out of the end zone that we probably should've left in the end zone and then we come out of the end zone and we fumble the ball. We kick a ball out of bounds. But, it was almost like one thing after another and no one really stepped up and said, 'Hey, let's get under control here and make sure we can finish this game the right way.'"
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