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November 2, 2012

Strong takes Temple as one-game season





Opening statement
"I am really excited about the game this week with Temple. I know Steve Addazio; Steve and I go way back at the University of Florida. He is an outstanding coach and I know he is going to have his team
prepared to play and it is going to be a very physical game.

Temple, offensively, comes at you from a lot of different formations and a lot of different personnel groupings. They do a really good job of running the ball. They have not done well throwing the football, but with the back the have with Montel Harris, transferring from Boston College, they do a really good job of handing him the ball. He runs behind his pads and is able to find the open creases and just run through defenses.

We know this; we have to continue to improve with our fundamentals and our skills and techniques. We know that we still have a long way to go as a football team and what is really great is sitting there undefeated and knowing that you can still really improve. That is the message we give to our football team each and every day.

It is still a one week season and Temple is our next game. We cannot worry about what is out there we know we still have four games left to go play, but is really critical for us to improve and get better."

On what he thinks the team can improve upon
"I would like to see us put together a 60-minute game and we have not been able to do that. We have played well in spurts and, if you watch us offensively, we have been able to take the ball, in most games that we have played, and go score with the opening drive. And defensively, we end up giving up a score. You would like to see us put together a complete game - offense, defense, and then the kicking game."

On Lorenzo Mauldin's injury
"Lorenzo (Mauldin) has a sprained knee and it is not surgical at all. He will be out a few weeks, but our trainers are going to do a good job of just trying to get him back on the football field."

On his relief that Lorenzo Mauldin's injury is not surgical
"There is always relief when you do not have to have surgery on a knee, so now we just hope we can get the young man back."

On Louisville's move from No. 16 to No. 10 in the BCS rankings
"Well, I guess a lot of people had a chance to watch that game and they saw a football team that is resilient and a football team that can come from behind and just play hard.

It is good for our players, and I tell them all the time, anything that happens with this football program is because of what you have done and, when you let the outside look in and see how hard you are playing and just what you are bringing to this University is really great.

The thing we cannot do is get caught up in the rankings and get caught up with where we are at, because we still have four games to go play, so if we allow that to happen and we go stub our toe, then there is no telling where you will drop."

On the difference between the statistics and team's ability to find a way to win
"That goes back to just the confidence of the team. They believe in one another. When you look at our offense; when you have a quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater and you have the receivers like Andrell (Smith), DeVante (Parker), and you look at (Damian) Copeland, we have players that can make plays.

On defense, just go out and get a stop, get the ball back for our offense and we know that our guys on defense feel that they know if they get the ball in our offense's hands then we have a chance to win the football game.

When I think about Copeland, and I think about the plays are receivers are making, you look at the Kentucky game, Copeland makes a big catch. We were backed up and he makes a big catch coming off the goal line. Then you look at the last game against South Florida he makes a big catch, and then you look at this game he goes down and makes a big catch, and then you throw the ball out there to Devante.

I always tell our receivers that I have yet to see a receiver take a slant or take a hitch and go score. That play reminded me of that yesterday with DeVante taking his the distance. But, the confidence of this team and how they believe in one another and just how they feel about one another, now they are coming together as a team, so when you have that within a football team then the will to win, you feel like you just cannot be beat right now if you just have an opportunity to go score."

On how he feels to be the head football coach of a team made up of clutch players
"We had that ball with 50 seconds to go and we throw the corner route out to (Scott) Radcliff and then they bring the corner blitz. If the receiver sees the corner blitz, Teddy (Bridgewater) is ready and is locked on to throw the ball out to the wide receiver, but the receiver just ran a different route.

If he catches that ball, we are going to be in field goal range and probably would have never gotten to overtime. But, it just feels really good as a head coach that you know that you have that much confidence and the players have confidence in one another."

On if the long kick returns allowed by the special teams coverage unit is due to lack of distance on the kickoff or poor discipline by the coverage unit
"On the kickoff coverage, it is about keeping the ball inside and in front of you. It does not matter where the ball is kicked; it is all about just defeating the blocker and where the ball is. You always want to cross in the opposite direction that someone is trying to block you and we have not done a good job with that.

Guys see someone coming to block him and he will stay inside of it and try to beat the block. You cannot beat the block, you have to go attack the blocker and shed the block and get across his face and that is what we are not doing a good job of right now."

On his reasoning for using two different kickoff kickers
"It is all about consistency and who can get the ball down there and get enough hang time on it, but we have enough coverage. When you look at who we have running down there, we have skill guys and they should be able to get down the field and make the hit and get off their blockers and go make a tackle."

On if he considers shaking up personnel on kickoff coverage
"No, those guys were always out there. (Calvin) Pryor and (Jarel) McGriff-Culver start on the kick-off. If you look at it its defensive backs, linebackers, and a couple of wide receivers, so it is not so much personnel it is all about just guys getting off blocks. If does not matter. Whoever runs down there, when the ball is kicked, you have to go defeat a blocker."

On if his players and himself enjoy being apart of potentially a historic Louisville football team
"You are and that is the thing, you have to earn respect as you go along and you just look at what has happened within the program and you know how kids are, they just live in the now they do not ever look back in the past and look at what history can do for them.

The only thing they are thinking about is right here, right now, and lets go get this next game. What is really good about this team is we do not even talk about the record. They do not even say, 'Hey, we are 8-0.' It is all about the next opponent."

On if his message to his players changes when they control their season's outcome rather than having to rely on other teams losing
"Well, it is, but it has been on us from the start and I told them that when they were picked to win this conference and the target was on their back right from the beginning. So, now, it is all about us each week going and playing and now you are in the conference schedule so each game counts so we cannot stub our toe, we cannot slip at all. We have to play well each week, because it is a conference opponent."

On if his team's excelled play late in seasons is intentional by him and his staff
"A lot of it is attributed to our strength staff and what they do. You are right; you get to the last part of the season and it is all about your strength and conditioning. It is all about just being physical and guys being able to maintain their strength as you continue these games and we still lift.

They still have our guys lift throughout the season, which is really good because now you get into these last four games and that is what it is going to come down to is the conditioning of your football team."


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