It’s 5:45pm on a scorching August evening in Louisville. Fans, media and even a few basketball stars are on the sidelines at the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex excited to catch the first glimpse of this season’s Cardinal Football Team. The players are already on the field. The coaches already drilling them. Whistles blow. Play is called… Ball is snapped. And just like that… Cardinal Football is back in season!
Excitement was in the air as the Cards took the practice field for the first time this season. Returning players were ready and focused on putting in hard work under hot conditions and yelling coaches. While new players seemed a little intimidated. One new player in particular got the wrath of Coach Strong after a missed opportunity. Luckily, the young guys have several leaders that have stepped up this season. Including Junior linebacker, Preston Brown.
“I’ve always been sort of a leader,” Brown told the media Friday after practice. “I try to lead by example by trying to do my job as hard as I can so all the young guys and everyone else can see.”
It’s that same leadership and dedication that has Louisville ranked number one in the Big East Preseason Media Polls.
When asked if he was surprised of Louisville’s Preseason Ranking, Sophomore Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said he was not at all surprised. “The hard work and dedication to the program the guys have put in… We feel like we deserve it. We just have to go out and win.”
Sitting on the sidelines, you could see the hard work and dedication. There was no messing around. No goofing off. This season’s team was focused on proving the preseason rankings are accurate.
It wasn’t just the demeanor of the team that had changed. Quite a few players noticeably looked different. Senior Center, Mario Benavides, looked leaner and more powerful. Other players that have shaped up in preparation of this season include, Preston Brown and Teddy Bridgewater.
Coach Strong credited off-season conditioning for the physical change in players, “We had a good off-season program and I’m pleased with the conditioning of the players.” Also noting how good the players look given the hot temperature.
Despite the hot temperature, 1,400 fans, according to UofLSports.Com, packed the practice fields to see how the team has matured in the off-season. And fans were not let down. Listening to talk in the crowd, many fans seemed pretty impressed with the strength and dedication of the team. To say these guys put in hard work is an understatement. The team was 110% dedicated to performing their best and went full-out every play.
When asked who he thought the face of the Cards would be this season, QB Teddy Bridgewater confidently said, “This year it’s all about the Cardinals… We’re all in it together.”
Here are some more photos from Day 1 of practice!