Louisville’s Charlie Strong: “Playing Joker in the first game . . . it’s special.”

Some observations on today’s press conference of Louisville footballl coach Charlie Strong in advance of Saturday’s opener against Kentucky.

* * * * *

Along with a neon sign confirming that the U of L football meeting room is sponsored by Texas Roadhouse, there’s an inspiratonal poster that will hopefully spur the Cards on to victory in Saturday’s rivalry game.

In bold letters, it recites this quote from UK D Coordinator Steve Brown: “There’s probably no memory that could be better than beating Louisville for the fourth year in a row.”

* * * * *

While it’s not exactly fresh news, this is to confirm that there will be a new color man on U of L’s broadcasts. Joining play by play announcer Paul Rogers in the booth will be former Cardinal QB, Stefan LeFors.

Doug Ormay will again cover the sidelines.

* * * * *

I asked Greg Scruggs if the players have talked about the unique circumstances surrounding this year’s opener? Arch rivals. New coaches, both African-American, who are old friends.

“Coach Strong would call that a distraction. We are just focusing on the game. Maybe we’ll talk about all that after it’s over.”

* * * * *

Jordan Campbell, hopeful transfer from Southern Cal, is still not really part of the squad.

Strong: “We’ve moved on, playing with the players we have.”

Football SID Rocco Gasparro advises that no fault lies with either school, that Campbell “has one thing that he needs to take care of.”

* * * * *

Scruggs, an engaging and loquacious fellow, told a funny story about nose guard Roy Philon, with whom he roomed during summer camp.

So locked in are the Cardinals to the new regime and getting better at the game, that Philon, during the middle of two different nights, talking in his sleep, had imaginary dream conversations with D line coach, Clint Hurtt.

Scruggs who needed to bulk up described his summer regimen. “Working out. Eating. Sleeping.

“I ate 6-8 times a day. Anything and everything. I hate bagels now.”

* * * * *

The player whose name kept coming up, whether it was Strong or Scruggs or Adam Froman at the podium, was Bilal Powell. Apparently the RB had a most hardscrabble upbringing, which Strong has used to inspire the rest of the squad.

Powell has apparently lost weight since last season and regained his freshman year quickness and speed.

Strong related a game he saw while recruiting. Powell was the only real prospect on his Lake Gibson H.S. team, which was playing power Lakeland H.S., off of which Florida signed 7 players.

“Powell ran for over two hundred yards, even though he was the only player on his team. The other guys couldn’t stop him. He almost beat Lakeland by himself.”

Strong is looking for Powell to be a real on the field leader.

* * * *  *

The other player whom Strong praised was juco WR Josh Bellamy. The coach says his swagger has rubbed off on the rest of the receiving corps, which is the most improved unit on the squad from spring to fall.

* * * * *

The coach minced no words about the defensive backfield: “The secondary is a major concern.”

* * * * *

Asked his assessment of this, his first Cardinal squad, and what they can achieve, Strong was similarly forthright: “I compare this to our first team at South Carolina. It was winless.

“We are still missing leadership.”

* * * * *

Starting QB Adam Froman was asked what the distinguishing characteristics of this team will be?

“Hard work. And no quit. People will be surprised late in games when we’re still sticking around.”

* * * * *

A few days ago, former Cardinal and Denver Bronco Tom Jackson addressed the team. According to Scruggs, the star LB from the Lee Corso era stressed techniques and the execution of fundamentals.

– Seedy K

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