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Louisville football weekly press conference notes

Charlie Strong

--This team still has a long way to go, but was very pleased with the performance against Syracuse. The Orange had zero negative plays against West Virginia and we got them for a loss 15 times.

--The crowd response to Anthony Conner was great. He thought they were never going to stop applauding.

--Told Conner on Thursday that he was going to let him see the team before the game and then bring him out onto the field during the game. AC lit up when he heard the news. He's still got a long road to recovery and he still talks about wanting to play football and gets down when he thinks about the fact that he can't.

--Knows this a huge game and a huge test. We've lost four straight to West Virginia and haven't won in Morgantown since 1990. They're a better football team than we are right now. We have to play extremely well in all three phases of the game to have a chance to win.

--Have to be able to control the crowd on Saturday. Can't have any cadence problems. You know there's going to be some adversity, and these guys are going to have to deal with that.

--The biggest reason the offensive line is playing better is that we're finally getting guys healthy. The beat up guys are finally back to full strength and the young guys finally have some experience.

-- Has never been to Morgantown, but guys on the staff who have have told him how hostile it is. Probably more hostile than a big-time SEC program. He's heard about all the things that the crowd says, but the players need to know that those guys can't come out of the stands. They can say whatever they want, it shouldn't affect what happens on the field.

--West Virginia offense is very good, but they've just had some issues in the red zone. Geno Smith threw for 450 yards against LSU. They don't have trouble moving the ball against anyone. 

--They're a really explosive offense. I'm not sure if there are any holes there at all. We can't worry about what they're going to do, we just have to play our defense and execute what we're trying to do.

--Doesn't worry much about any of the realignment off-the-field stuff. Our battle is on the field.

--Has not discussed the Big East championship race at all. I don't know if we're mature enough to look down that road. Just gets the guys locked in on that next opponent.

--WVU lost seven starters on defense last year, and whenever you lose that many guys it's tough. They're still running the same scheme, they just have different guys.

--The conference stuff is big for recruiting. Knows that we're going to end up in a big-time conference because we have Tom Jurich. We need a big-time recruiting class, and he knows that teams from other BCS conferences are using our conference situation against us. "We know we're going to end up somewhere."

--Every week there's something different happening with the conference situation. Seems like something always happens on Thursday.

--This will be the first really tough environment this team has faced. They have to stick together and remain focused.

--Teddy has matured tremendously, but a lot of that has to do with the way the guys around him have improved. The line is getting better, receivers are getting open and getting better at blocking, the running game has improved; all of that has really helped Teddy.

--Hasn't addressed bowl eligibility and won't right now. We're too young for any sort of future talk. Preparation and locking in on the next opponent takes pressure off of the young guys who don't really know how to handle that.Guys like Dexter Heyman and Josh Chichester are probably more aware of the situation, but they don't mention it either.

--Our game plan and our week of practice are going to be what decides how we handle the environment on Saturday.

--They will talk about the environment before Saturday so that it's not a shock to the young guys.They'll know that they're going to say things and throw batteries or whatever. Can't worry about that, we have to stay focused.

--Dexter Heyman is fine. Thought he got hurt hitting Adrian Bushell, but Strong let him know that he got hurt hitting the turf.

--Has seen Greg Scruggs' "Get on the Train" t-shirt, but he doesn't have one.


Dexter Heyman

--We know it's going to be a hostile environment on Saturday, but we can't worry about that. We're going to play our game.

--Was a sophomore when we played in Morgantown the last time. Didn't really notice the crowd much to be honest.

--This will be the toughest test for the defense in terms of pass defense. They're the best passing team in the Big East and Geno Smith is arguably the best quarterback in the Big East.

--The secondary has a big-time challenge in front of it, but it's nothing those guys can't handle.

--Geno Smith is a great runner, but we know that he doesn't prefer to run. He's a pass-first quarterback, which means we have to defend the pass first and foremost.

--Preston Brown has come a long way in terms of consistency and knowledge of the game. He's come along very, very nicely for us.

--We don't talk about bowl eligibility or BCS berths or anything like that, but we are fully aware of what's at stake. We take every game as a one week season. As long as we prepare correctly, we trust everything to turn out well.

--Doesn't worry about the realignment stuff. Trusts the presidents and athletic director with all that.

--Young guys have to understand that taunts from the fans aren't personal. It's a team-thing. They're yelling at you because you're wearing a certain type of jersey.

--Preparation is much more important in college than it was in high school. In high school, Male ran a 1982 defense with only one coverage. Learning that has been the biggest part of his progression.

--Biggest difference in the new coaching staff has been the complete attitude shift.

--Was really upset when Syracuse scored in the fourth quarter. He's not the only guy who feels that way, and that type of attitude shift is what the new staff is all about. He has big goals as far as points allowed statistics and national rankings, and that last touchdown hurt that.

--This is conference with a lot of parity. If you don't bring your A game every week, then all of the sudden you've fallen behind.

--Coach saying West Virginia is a better team doesn't matter because it only matters who's the best team on the day of the game. Coach Strong has a different form of motivation every week.

--Always thought that this was a team that could compete for a Big East title, even after the Marshall and FIU home losses. His confidence never wavered because of the talent of the young guys. Knew that they would come along and that when that happened we could be pretty good.

--The young guys have been making plays all year, but they've really come around recently in the mental part of the game. They're watching more film and really grasping what we're trying to do conceptually. That's something that has helped this team immensely, but also something that's going to help them and this program down the line.