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.