Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford mentioned his main concern two, three, four, five times — at the very least.
Cornerback. Finding some guys ready to step up to the task. Finding some backups. Developing some schemes and sets to protect the corners.
While mentioning that the defense should be the strength of this season’s squad, head coach Charlie Strong mentioned, two, three times — at the very least — that cornerback is a concern.
Only offensive coordinator Mike Sanford didn’t mention that serious question mark. He talked about the lack of experience on the offensive line. How they lost six seniors that got the bulk of downs last season. How Mario Benavides is the only returning starter. How there’s lots of young talent, but it’s woefully inexperienced.
Sanford also dwelled on the lack of depth and experience at QB. Former walk on Will Stein, who has played in only six games, mostly as mop up, is the starter at the moment. True frosh Teddy Bridgewater is the future. Sanford didn’t mention Dominique Brown, who got some snaps last season in the WildCard. He’s sitting third on the chart. Charlie Strong did mention Brown, but in the context of “he’s a great athlete, capable of playing lots of positions.”
Other than that, Cardinal fans, everything’s aces.
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What is refreshing about this Cardinal football staff — other than the talent, drive and enthusiasm — is these coaches don’t mince words.
It’s obvious they’re doing their best to motivate this year’s inexperienced, under-manned squad to hopefully equal last season’s accomplishments. “We’ can’t be complacent,” said Strong.
It’s just as obvious they know the future is in the future (to go Yogi Berra on you).
Bedford’s time at the mic turned preacheriffic when he contemplated the seasons to come, indicating his pleasure with the talent level and upside of the youngsters on the team.”In time, in time . . .” he preached (literally), “. . . if you’re in our way, we’ll roll right through you. This train is rollin’. Get on board, or get out of the way.”
“We will get Louisville football back to where it belongs,” said Strong, less hyperbolically. But it was clear neither believed this will happen this coming season.
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Yes, there are positives.
The defensive front. Bedford was genuinely enthusiastic about Greg Scruggs (“I’d almost trust him with my daughter.”), Brandon Dunn and B.J. Butler. He also waxed on about Dexter Heyman, Hakeem Smith and former HS QB turned defensive playmaker, Marcus Smith.
“We’re bigger and in better condition than last year,” said Bedford.
On the offensive side of the ball, the receiving corps appears ready to perform. Josh Bellamy, Andrell Smith, Michaelee Harris, Damian Copeland, and two true freshman of note: “the best player last year in Kentucky,” DeVante Parker and Eli Rogers.
Of course, they need somebody with enough time to find those wideouts, then deliver the ball to them.
Sanford is also expecting big things from running backs, Victor Anderson and Jeremy Wright.
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As I’ve mentioned often, there is something eminently admirable, likeable about Charlie Strong. No Hail Fellow Well Met and not the most comfortable guy at the lecturn, he’s as straight a shooter as you’re going to find who sits at a head coach’s desk.
He seems genuinely proud of the team’s academic achievements. Twenty of 25 of last year’s seniors have already graduated, with others soon to do so. This season, no member of the squad needed summer school to become eligible. Last season, there were eight.
“Good academics equals a good football team.”
It wasn’t lip service.
Strong is a big believer in team leadership. “Who are this season’s leaders,” he asked rhetorically?
– Seedy K