Lunch for journalists, who never pass up a free meal. This year, per tradition: Make your own tacos.
Then the Dog & Pony Show. Offensive and Defensive Coordinators. Head coach. Then fifteen or so players at stations answering similar questions over and over again with microphones, cameras and note pads stuck in their faces.
The plan this year was the same. Except that there’s a new sheriff in town, a competition for QB and a couple of hot newcomers who haven’t qualified yet. So the interest level was higher, though I’d note the absence of Lexingtonians. They usually show up when the UK game opens the season. Not this year.
Random notes and thoughts from the event.
Kenny Klein advises that negotiations are ongoing to televise the Oregon State game from Corvallis. He used the term “convoluted” to describe the situation because of TV contracts, PAC 10 stuff, etc. The impression he gave is that all things should fall in place so Cardinal fans should be able to watch the game on local TV on September 18.
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The Media Guide is aimed more at recruits than ever before. Twenty seven pages near the front hype the city, former stars, the facilities, etc. Papa John’s is called The Oven.
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After listening to D Coordinator Vance Bedford and O Coordinator Mike Sanford, and after observing the other assistants at practice, I’d say the football IQ of this staff is the highest ever. These fellows are intense, and know what they’re doing. There was no hyperbolizing.
While the first player mentioned by Bedford during his time at the podium was Johnny Patrick, he said only two D starters are certain: Brandon Heath and Greg Scruggs.
As for freshman who have displayed the ability to play this season, Bedford named Jamaine Brooks and Brandon Dunn.
He, like the other coaches, is looking forward to this Saturday’s scrimmage. “The name of the game is competition.”
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O Coordinator Mike Sanford started out with “There’s been no real football yet. We’ve just been in helmets and pads. We’re still learning the system.”
Stein, Froman and Burke are still competing for the QB job. Dominique Brown is “very athletic, takes charge and is not intimidated.” But, Sanford was quick to point out the freshman has a lot to learn.
To choose the QB, Sanford said he and Strong are looking for: 1) Leadership, 2) Efficiency “Are we productive? Do we score points?” and 3) Elimination of mistakes. And, he said, “Mobility is a real plus in this offense.”
He pointed out the youth of the receiving corps. Two frosh who might help, he said, are Michaelee Harris and Jarrett Davis.
Nate Nord may get some time at TE, along with Josh Chichester. Pete Nochta has been hampered by a sprained knee. Jeremy Wright, the third RB — behind Vic Anderson and Bilal Powell — has also been slowed with a bruised knee.
The only secure starters at this time are the RBS and O line.
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“We’re working on fundamentals, trying to find out who we are?”
The coach mentioned how the team is living together in a hotel, and will do so through next Thursday. “We’re looking to build a football team. Our identity? Be aggressive.”
Strong gave no timetable for a QB decision. He talked about how the DL will have to use speed and mobility to make up for lack of size.
Asked what the team needs to succeed, he said, “The seniors need to step up.”
Strong couldn’t praise the Louisville community enough. He said his whole family loves the city and have been welcomed with open arms. “The fans have so much passion and enthusiasm. It’ll wear you out.”
Strong hedged when asked what this team is capable of? (This head coach hasn’t a hint of hyperbole about him.) “We need leadership to step up. We need to win a football game. Then the confidence comes. We’re starting (that process).”
“We as coaches owe it to our seniors to get to a bowl game.”
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My favorite Strong revelation of the day was when he was asked if he intends to change the team’s uniforms. To paraphrase his answer, “I don’t care. I don’t have time for that.”
– Seedy K