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Charlie Strong, Cardinals starting from scratch
The process could take awhile. Burke, Adam Froman and sophomore Will Stein will all get a chance at quarterback, though Froman’s mobility could give him a leg up while playing behind a rebuilt offensive line.
Running back Victor Anderson slumped as a sophomore due to injury. He’s back, a little leaner, a little quicker and a little brasher. He raised eyebrows when he announced “Louisville is back” recently. Hey, you got to start somewhere, right?
“We know people aren’t talking about us,” he said. “We know that’s something we need to earn. We can’t be worried about what other people are saying.”
The speedy Anderson and the sturdier Bilal Powell will be asked to take some of the pressure off the quarterbacks. They’ll also try to kick start an offense that has sagged. Louisville was second in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total offense four years ago. Last year the Cardinals were 91st.
The scoreboard-tilting numbers Louisville had under former coach Bobby Petrino helped put the football program on equal footing with Rick Pitino’s men’s basketball team. The school approved expansion at Cardinals Stadium to 55,000 shortly after winning the Orange Bowl.
Three years later, the job is almost complete. The landscape, however, has changed dramatically. Kragthorpe walked out of a half-empty stadium in his final game last fall. Strong knows part of his job is to bring the buzz back, putting people in seats in the process.
It’s a challenge the players welcome.
Anderson opted for Louisville when the Cardinals were atop the Big East. The hometown kid didn’t imagine the Cardinals would fall so far so fast. He doesn’t see any reason why they can’t rise just as quickly.
In exchange, Strong is asking for a heightened commitment from his players. He has instituted five core values that he has plastered across the football complex and inside their player manuals. The gist is simple: be accountable for your actions.
It’s a notion the players have embraced. They didn’t utter a peep when Strong ordered them to spend 10 days in a hotel together during fall camp, viewing the idea as opportunity to build unity on a team that will need to have an “us against the world” attitude.
“We know what we’re up against,” said defensive end Greg Scruggs. “We know what people expect of us. But our expectations are higher and our goal is to exceed them.”
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
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