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Charlie Strong Previews Memphis, Talks About Teddy Bridgewater's Future

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Video available from the C-J


Press conference highlights:

--On Saturday we're saying goodbye to a class that's meant a great deal to this program. We asked these guys to have faith in us and trust that we were going to turn this program around, and they did that.

--This group now has the chance to finish their career with three straight bowl games, and they already have 34 wins under their belt. The three years prior to this class getting here, the program didn't go to any bowl games.

--We need our crowd here on Saturday. It's been almost a year to the day that I called to attention the fact that it was senior day and we didn't have a crowd, which was similar to Saturday night. Still, I'd like to thank the people that did come out on Saturday. It was our first night game here on a Saturday night in five years and I thought maybe we'd get a packed house, but we're still a work in progress. Everybody wants to see a winner, everybody wants to see their team play well, and that's what we have to do for two halves.

--Really excited about this week. Memphis is an outstanding team, but I'm really excited to try and send these seniors out the right way.

--A lot of times you can feel how the crowd is going to be when you go through Card March, and Saturday it wasn't there.

--I'm a defensive coach, and what I want to see is great defense. If we're in a game that's 9-6, I'll be happy as long as we're the ones that have the nine points. I always tell our defense that it doesn't matter what our offense does, if we don't allow the other team to score then we're going to win.

--Our defense has a lot of pride, and that one bad game really hurt them. They've been trying to show what they're made of in the games since then.

--We haven't played well on senior day in the past, and we have to change that. This class is our core group of guys, and they can't get caught up in all the emotion of the day. When it's time to play football, they have to play football.

--Not worried about Teddy leaving early right now. He's a junior and the only thing he should be worried about is finishing this season strong and then making a decision after the year.

--Teddy came in with a group of guys that he went to high school with, and that will weigh on his mind when it comes time to make a decision on whether or not to leave early. Those guys have been tight for a long time. People do come back. When I was at Florida, Tim Tebow came back. I know guys worry about the injury part of it, but if you protect your guy then it's not a concern.

--Teddy and I haven't talked about him coming back. If a young man has his heart set on leaving to be a pro, then obviously I'm not going to try and stop him. We'll discuss that at the appropriate time.

--This is a senior group that is about to go to four straight bowl games and that is 20-3 in their last 23 games here. We'd love to see a huge turnout on Saturday.

--Whenever you work so hard to build a program you want to be supported. The fans are a part of this program, and it's like I say, I don't ask the fans to get up at 7 a.m. to workout, I don't ask them to hang around for two hours after practice, we just ask the fans to show up to the games. This is your team. You can drink out at the parking lot or do what you need to do, but come in and yell for your team.

--We were able to stop the run on Saturday because Philon and Broandon Dunn played so heavy in the middle. That opened things up for Preston Brown to make plays. We knew Houston could throw the ball, but we didn't want them to get their running game going, and they didn't.

--You hate when this time of the year comes, because you hate seeing these guys go. You would have loved to have redshirted a lot of these guys, but we had to play them at that time. You'd love to see guys like Preston Brown and Marcus Smith coming back, but they're moving on.

--We'll also be honoring a lot of guys who have worked extremely hard on the scout squads in practice every day. Some fans might say, "who is that guy?" when they say them on Saturday. He's a Louisville Cardinal, and that's all that matters.

--Dominique carried the ball 27 time on Saturday, which is a lot, but we probably could have given it to him 40 times with him running the ball like that. He's a big physical runner who never gets knocked backwards. We could definitely give it to him 40 times without him getting too worn down.

--(On Florida job speculation) With me? I have a job. That speculation's not with me, it's with Rocco. Will (Muschamp) can coach. He'll be all right.

--Memphis is very good on defense. Martin is one of the top sack guys and tackle for loss guys in the country. They control the ball and use a lot of misdirection on offense.

--We went to a five-man box against Houston because they kept splitting four wide and kept throwing bubble screens. So we moved Burgess out of the box to defend the bubble. If you think you can hold up against the run, then the five-man box is a great defense. We tried to run it before, but we didn't run it right. I love talking about ball instead of talking about Teddy coming back for his senior year.

--The players hear so much more of the outside talk than we do. You always just try to keep them in the moment, and keep them focused on the week at hand. Expectations were so high heading into this season that it was hard. Sometimes it's also hard to control your coaches, because they hear things too.

--I loved that we had high expectations because it shows how far we've come. When you lose a game now, it burns, and you want it to burn. You want to be in a place where expectations are so high that one loss really hurts.

--In December, we're going to have 17 guys walk out of here with degrees. That's huge. That makes you feel like we're getting to accomplish what we set out to accomplish.

--Our fans have a reason to be upset about that one loss. They want to see a winner. Still, when you're sitting there with nine wins after 10 games, you're supposed to feel content. But we want to be one of those elite programs that are always going to get the best from opponents. When you get to that point, you have to know that you're getting everyone's best every week, and you can't slip up.

--We're in the position we're in because of what we did. No one else. It's a good life lesson for our guys.