Charlie Strong Talks Spring Game, "Media Freeze"

Audio available here.

--Starts off by saying that his actions were blown way out of proportion. His actions weren't a personal attack on the local media, but he does believe that the relationship between the program and the media has to be outstanding for the football program to take that step to the next level.

This isn't a football versus basketball thing. He understands the magnitude of basketball in this state, and was proud to see two Kentucky teams in the Final Four playing in a game that he himself attended. But in oder for U of L to thrive, every sport has to be covered. So many Louisville programs are doing big things right now, look at what the baseball team did against Kentucky the other night.

We had four open spring practices before closing practice. Understands that the Final Four demands attention, but also knows that there are interns or junior reporters who could have come out to cover the football team. He's not asking for special treatment.

He loves basketball, and couldn't have any more respect for what coach Pitino did with that Louisville team. He even made it out to a Bellarmine NCAA Tournament game and loved watching Coach Davenport and the Knights. Understands what basketball means to this community, but also believes there's plenty of room for the football team to get its fair share of coverage.

This isn't a personal attack, it's just that I'm so passionate about this program. We are a BCS program. We are an elite program, but we need you (the media) just as much as you need us.

--Knows that a lot is going to be written about this team heading into the season. We've been picked to finish last the past two years, and now for some reason a lot of people are picking us to finish first.

--We are nowhere near where we need to be right now. There's talent on this team, but with just nine seniors on the roster, leadership is definitely going to be an issue.

--We have a schedule that is going to be very demanding. Moving the Kentucky game to Sunday means that there are going to be three different times where we have short weeks to prepare for games. After our first three games, we're on the road for a month.

--We're searching for our identity right now, but we've made strides during spring ball.

--Going from being picked last to being picked first in just two seasons is a credit to the work ethic of this coaching staff. But again, we're nowhere near where we need to be right now.

--The offense is going to be very balanced this year. We're going to run the ball and then hopefully that will allow us to stretch the field with some play action stuff. We're going to keep bringing pressure on defense. That means we have to find some guys who can cover on the outside, but we're not going to stop blitzing.

--We have to find a kicker now that Chris Philpott has left the program.

--We have an outstanding quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, even though he's still young, and an adequate backup in Will Stein. The offense has had great flow and tempo during spring practice because of the strength of our quarterbacks.

--The running back position appears very strong, even though I hate to say that because any time I say that about a position it comes back to slap me in the face. But we have Dominique Brown, Senorise Perry, Corvin Lamb and Jeremy Wright; four running backs who can all make it happen if you put the ball in their hands.

--Wide receiver is a position where we have plenty of guys who can catch the football, but we're searching for those guys who can make plays after they have the ball in their hands.

--I really like our offensive line. They've really come together and played very well during the spring. Mario's not with us for spring practice right now, but Walker and Romano have been playing well. The only issue on the line right now is depth. They're a very fun group to be around, because they're tough and they really understand what we're doing with this program. They know that we have to run the football.

--We really feel that with Teddy Bridgewater, even though he's young and needs to improve, we really have a leader who can operate our offense and move the chains consistently.

--Defensively, the loss of Dexter Heyman is going to hurt a lot, but we think Preston Brown can come in and do a solid job at the middle linebacker position.

--There's not a dominating guy on our defensive line, but we have enough good performers that we can consistently rotate players in and out, which is a huge bonus.

--We really helped ourselves at the linebacker position with the freshmen we've brought in, including the two Army All-Americans. Our defense is set up for the Mike linebacker to make a lot of plays, and Dexter did a great job for us last year. Now it's on Preston Brown to step up.

--We have four starters back in the secondary, so now we feel like we can put pressure on people and play man coverage.

--Finding a kicker is really critical, because we're going to move the football and we have to get points when we're not able to get into the endzone.

--We are 14-12 over the past two seasons with an average margin of loss of 7.3, which means it's just a play on offense or a stop on defense that has led to most of those losses.

--It's amazing to see how far this team has come and how much potential it has. We have a ton of youth, but the work ethic, the accountability and the understanding of what we're trying to do has come so far in the past two years.

--Again, we're a BCS program, we are an elite program and I have so much passion about this program. We get such tremendous support from our fans, and I just want to make it happen here and take this program to the next level. It's all about this team continuing to work hard and continuing to make strides.

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--Jamon Brown has the potential to be tremendous. He will stay on the offensive line, he's not switching back to defense.

--(After media members say they didn't have anyone send to spring practice) "Give me a student. Give me anybody."

--The media freeze is over. He just saw how hard his team was working and wanted it covered. All he's doing is trying to help this program, because he's so passionate about it. I just want proper recognition for my program. I want to the best at my job just like you want to be the best at your job.

--Understands that the Final Four demanded a bulk of media attention, but there's room for coverage of all sports in this city. There has to be a way for us to work this out.

--Has told his team: "you didn't buy into it when they picked you last, so don't buy into this now." Let's stay focused and continue to work hard so we get hit our goals and accomplish what we want to accomplish. They deserve this recognition because they've worked hard for it, but living up to those predictions will come down to working hard and staying focused.

--We saw last year what happens when you get a little full of yourself, and thankfully a lot of the guys on that team are back for this year.

--Jamon Brown has had a tremendous spring. Bradon Dunn has also had a special spring.

--Keith Brown is a guy who was able to come in early and who has really competed well so far. He'll help us out immediately at the linebacker position.

--It's fun to watch how hard our guys are working now that they understand how to work.

--Last year we had 24 guys out for the spring game because of injury, this year we have 14. Mario Benavides, Keith Brown and Kai Dominguez are among those who will be sitting out.

--Biggest concern right now is probably depth on the offensive line. We have probably seven guys we're really comfortable with, but that's not enough to have guys constantly rotating in and out like we have on the defensive line. We also need playmakers at wide receiver. We need somebody like DeVante Parker to step up and become that consistent big play threat.

--Offensive line is a concern and defensive line is probably a slight concern.

--Says it all the time: "show me a team with bad grades, and I'll show you a bad football team."

--Teddy Bridgewater is a guy who wants to be the best on the field and in the classroom. He's said before, "coach, if I want to be an All-American player on the field, I'm also going to be an All-American student in the classroom."

--Teddy's understanding of the game has made things so much better this spring. Last spring we were just looking for a quarterback and obviously Teddy had only been here for a couple of months. Now, things are going so much more smoothly because we have a quarteraback who can walk up to the line and see what's happening and know what checks to make.

--Would love to have one primary running back, but right now we have four guys we're really comfortable with. It would be impossible right now to just give the ball to one of those guys only.

--Haven't decided the format of the spring game yet. They'll talk about that and decide on Friday.

--Right now, they're not letting anyone hit the quarterbacks.

--Even after Teddy emerged last year, Will Stein continued to study the game and continued to serve as a leader for that team, and the same is true right now. If I want to talk to somebody about the game or about the team, I'm going to go talk to Will. He understands the game, he understands his role, and he's just an unbelievable person.

--Preston has done very well with the move to middle linebacker. We've always known he's talented, now it's just a matter of him locking in, and he knows that.

--Would love a big fan showing at the spring game, because it will really let the players know how much they're supported and will serve as that much more motivation to work hard heading into September. Knows that if you win football games you're going to draw fans, because the fans want to see a winner.

--Marcus Smith has continued to get bigger and now he's learning how to compete. He went from quarterback to linebacker to defensive line, so now he's got nowhere else to go.

--Loves the move of the game to Saturday because now the fans can get out and tailgate, and they can even tailgate after the game. It should be a lot of fun.

--Dexter Heyman and Victor Anderson stand out as the two biggest shoes to fill from last year's team.

--(Asked if the lack of media attention might lead him to run to a bigger program) No. Look at the continuity on this coaching staff. We've had lots of guys on this staff who have had the opportunity to leave and did not because we have a mission here and we're going to get this mission accomplished.

--(Asked if he's heard anything about the Arkansas job) No I have not.

--Michaelee Harris is not in spring practice, but he's in rehab right now. He won't get any work until fall camp.

--We have to get better in the return game. You have to block the right people and have the right guys back there fielding punts and kicks.

--Ends with "they can cover the spring game."

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