Strong’s Second Season Won’t Be As Easy As the First

Every Cardinal Football fan out there will tell you that they were pleasantly surprised by last year’s Louisville Cardinals. By going to and winning the program’s first bowl since 2007, Charlie Strong was quickly able to assure the Cardinal faithful that he was a good choice.

Strong addresses fans at Kick-Off Luncheon

Heading into Coach Strong’s second voyage at the helm, the Cardinals find themselves in the familiar unknown. The upperclassmen that emerged as leaders for a lost team are now gone, and a much younger team is left behind. Louisville’s fate will rest on whether these talented youngsters will be able to step up.

Strong spent the entirety of the offseason touting the future of Louisville football. How couldn’t he after assembling a top 25 recruiting class featuring blue chip quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Still, when Strong was pressed regarding this season he couldn’t guarantee that fans would see the same success he brought about last year.

Neither has the media.

Athlon Sports and Lindy’s, two prominent publishers of NCAA football previews, both projected the Cards 7th in the Big East. Even Louisville’s own Pat Forde, ESPN’s most popular college football commentator, ragged on the Cards by predicting Murray State to upset Louisville Thursday night.

Still the wild and unpredictable Big East still hold hope for UofL. Without a clear conference hierarchy, the chances for a second bowl game in as many years aren’t insignificant.

The Cardinals begin their 2011 campaign with Thursday’s battle with the Racers. Vegas puts Louisville as the 30 point favorites over Murray State, and Cards fans will come to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium expecting a win.

Louisville’s opening clash will be more of a spotlight of things to come, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks. Senior Will Stein has been named the starter, but Coach Strong has promised that all three quarterbacks will take snaps.

Speaking of snaps, the already sapped offensive line will be without Mario Benavides its only returning starter. Louisville will need its front five to be successful Thursday to give the quarterbacks the time they’ll need to find the open man.

The bigger struggle for the Cards will take place on the defensive side of the ball. The cornerback position is where Louisville is at its weakest. With the adept ability of the Racers’ offense Coach Strong could run into some issues if the outside can’t hold up.

With a sellout crowd expected and expectations high, few can say they are 100% confident in Louisville Football this year. The ingredients of a good team all lie in Cardinal Stadium, the only question is if they can all come together to make a finished product.