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STRONG medicine With arrival of head coach Charlie Strong, Louisville’s defense evolves into one of conference’s best units By Zach Brown

D

STAFF WRITER

oug Beaumont knew from the very first team meeting of the year that new head coach Charlie Strong was ready to turn around a sagging Louisville program. Before spring practices started, before he had gotten to know his players, Strong sent his team a message in that first meeting. A message that the senior wide receiver Beaumont said was not delivered in the kindest of tones. It was a message, Beaumont said, that showed the Louisville football team that Strong was there to turn things around. He demanded respect from his players. And he got it immediately. “He told us from the get-go what he’s expecting, what he’s going to do,” Beaumont said. “And it showed us that it’s not time to play around no more, and we

“When you look at it, it’s a program that four years ago went to the Orange Bowl. It hasn’t been to a bowl game in the last three years, so it’s just change the overall attitude of this football team. You had to get them to believe that they can go play. Get them to believe that they can win.”

Charlie Strong

LOUISVILLE HEAD COACH

just have to respect him. He got his trust right away. And from then on, he kept his trust. “My first impression was he was the real deal.” Strong has eased off that intensity slightly as he has built a rapport with his players. But come Saturdays, the passion works its way back into the first-year head coach’s demeanor. As the former Florida defensive coordinator, he was brought to Louisville to improve that side of the football, where the Cardinals (4-4, 1-2 Big East) finished 65th in the nation last year. And that improvement has already emerged in Louisville’s play this year. Strong and the Cardinals’ No. 22-ranked defense will be on display when they take on Syracuse (6-2, 3-1) Saturday at noon in the Carrier Dome. “It’s a big turnaround, you can just tell,” Beaumont said. “The defense is more motivated to get to the ball fast, play hard. … They have great execution planned from Coach Strong and the defensive staff.” Just a year ago, Louisville struggled to keep teams out of the end zone, a major contributor to its 4-8 season. The defense allowed 26.3 points per game, a number that bumped up to 32.5 per game in the Cardinals’ eight losses. Their pass rush mustered just 23 sacks through those 12 games, and the run defense

SEE STRONG PAGE 19

courtesy of louisville sports information

November 5, 2010  

November 5, 2010

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