LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Every football program needs a ray or two of sunshine now and again. For the Louisville football team, it’s coming in the form preseason All-American Jaire Alexander and one unusual element: rain.
The Cardinals are coming off a tough loss at NC State, with a stout defensive team in Boston College in waiting. Louisville has spent plenty of time since the Thursday night contest watching film and working in practice to correct those mistakes.
Practice wasn’t going to be easy, especially given the forecast, but that didn’t stop the Cardinals from picking up momentum heading into another league contest.
“We had a good, long, hard practice on Monday and had one yesterday, and of course today was a long one,” associate head coach and secondary coach Lorenzo Ward said. “They came with great energy.
“I thought, yesterday, the rain probably increased our enthusiasm because the guys were outside running around in the rain and it made it a fun day, so it was exciting to see.”
Louisville also displayed a noticeable change in its demeanor with the return of Alexander, who was hailed as one of the top defensive backs during the preseason.
The preseason All-American led the team with five interceptions a season ago, and his defensive prowess landed him on the preseason all-ACC team as well as the Paul Hornung, Jim Thorpe, Chuck Bednarik, and Bronko Nagurski watch lists.
“When Jaire’s playing, I think the other guys have more confidence,” Ward said, “because they know what kind of player he is and it makes the entire defense better.”
Alexander, who has never shied away from the spotlight, finally returned under the lights for a half at NC State. It was his first contest since the Cardinals’ opener against Purdue. The Charlotte, N.C., native helped as much as he could from the sidelines, but he is quite aware of the difference he makes between the lines – even away from a game.
“I think I bring a good bit of enthusiasm,” Alexander said. “Sometimes, practice may be a little boring or sluggish, but you have to have that one person to bring the juice, and I feel like I bring that.”
The more uplifting news for his teammates and the fans – beyond Alexander back in practice – is that he says of his return that he’s “getting there” and “you can expect to see more of me this weekend.”
Louisville and Boston College hit the gridiron on Saturday in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for a 12:20 p.m. kick.