Share “Countdown begins for Louisville, Kentucky...”

Countdown begins for Louisville, Kentucky matchup

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm •  Published: July 24, 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Governor's Cup is looming on the horizon and Louisville's Charlie Strong and first-year Kentucky coach Mark Stoops previewed their Sept. 14 matchup in Lexington.

Governor Steve Beshear said at Wednesday's Governor's Cup Luncheon, "The countdown starts now."

Strong is working to keep expectations for Louisville in check following last year's 11-2 season that was capped by a 33-23 upset over Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

Stoops' challenge is to rebuild a program that finished 2-10 and was winless in the competitive Southeastern Conference last year. Louisville won last year's contest 32-14, giving the Cardinals two straight wins in the series after Kentucky had won four in a row.

The Wildcats coach summed up the task ahead of him by pointing out that Cardinals return quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and all but one starter on defense.

"Charlie's got a pretty good team coming back. We need a little work," Stoops said.

The two men have similar coaching backgrounds — both were longtime defensive coordinators prior to becoming head coaches. Strong was a part of two national championships at Florida as part of Urban Meyer's staff before joining Louisville in 2010; Stoops spent six seasons at Arizona before turning around Florida State's defense in his three years there. The Seminoles finished second in the nation in total defense last year and won the Orange Bowl after Stoops was named Kentucky's coach.

Strong had words of advice for his new rival on the rigors of the job, saying it took him awhile to learn that he couldn't accommodate all the requests for his time.

"It's just so tough in the beginning because everyone wants a piece of you because here you are, you're just a new face in town," Strong said.

Stoops agreed, saying the demands as head coach were "very different." He seemed eager for the start of fall practice when his focus could shift from promotional tours to the film room and preparing his team for the season.

"I think there is an adjustment there," Stoops said. "I think there is a time when you have to say no, and I hope people understand that. Because it's time to put your kids, put your program, put your players in the best position to be successful."

Success for Strong this season will include managing the hype surrounding Louisville that has some fans calling for an undefeated season and a chance at the national title. Strong mentioned his 2009 season at Florida — when the Gators were expected to repeat as national champs after returning quarterback Tim Tebow and a slew of other future pros — as a guiding force for this year's Cardinals. Florida had a perfect regular season in 2009 before losing in the SEC championship to Alabama and later winning the Sugar Bowl.

"I just don't want that to creep into our team, where they have to feel like losing becomes devastating," Strong said. "Where it's like, 'Oh my God, we got beat.' And then when you win a game, they don't really enjoy it. It cannot happen. It happened in that program that year."

Kentucky opens its season Aug. 31 against Western Kentucky in Nashville, Tenn.; Louisville hosts Ohio on Sept. 1.


  1. 1
    One third of vegetarians eat meat when they get drunk
  2. 2
    Westboro Baptist Church protests weather science, homosexuality at Norman's National Weather...
  3. 3
    Deadly Shooting Reported on University Campus in Arizona
  4. 4
    FBI director calls lack of data on police shootings ‘ridiculous,’ ‘embarrassing’
  5. 5
    Childcare now costs more than rent. No wonder more women are opting out of the workforce
+ show more


× Trending sports Article