The annual Governor's Cup press conference was held on Wednesday afternoon at the Hurstbourne Country Club in Louisville with a packed house of assistant coaches, former players and administrators. The featured speakers were Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong and Kentucky rookie head coach Mark Stoops.
Among the many others in attendance were Director of Athletics for the University of Louisville Tom Jurich and former Cardinals Ted Washington and Bill Gatti, both of whom were honored at a reception on Tuesday evening at the Kentucky Derby Museum. Others on hand included former Cardinal quarterback Chris Redman, ESPN college football analyst and former U of L head coach Lee Corso, former Athletic Director Bill Olsen and Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum.
Corso told Cardinal Authority that he likes Louisville's chances of going undefeated, saying "I think they're going to win all of their games."
Corso added that he anticipates the Cardinals final game of the regular season at rival Cincinnati to be the biggest challenge of 2013.
Prior to the coaches taking the stand to answer questions from the assembled media, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear addressed the crowd and was quick to congratulate the University of Louisville on its outstanding year.
"The University of Louisville, what a year they had, and are having, and Charlie Strong started it all by having a great football season and winning the Sugar Bowl," said Governor Beshear.
With 19 starters returning from the Sugar Bowl winning team, the Cardinals are expected to be one of the top programs in 2013, but fourth-year head coach Charlie Strong is looking forward to the personality that this years squad will have.
"Each year brings a new level of excitement and enthusiasm," said Strong. "Every year the team has to present it's own identity. Last years success does not determine this seasons success."
Last season saw the Cardinals often play at it's opponents level, but with the experience and maturity gained in 2012, Strong anticipates improved focus week in and week out.
"You like to think that the team has matured, because if you look at last year there was a lot of close games, but we were able to go and win the Sugar Bowl," he said. "The expectations with this team now and the players really understand it, because now you're saying that we need to get to that next level and we have to improve. They understand the work ethic now and they understand how they have to improve."
While Strong is looking for improved play, he isn't setting out to run up the score on any opponent.
"You can't handle that, because you are going to play against some good defenses," he explained. "Were not there to try to run up the score on anybody. We are just trying to win the football game."
For the Cardinals to improve upon last seasons 11-2 finish, Strong is stressing better play in all areas of the game.
"We have to make sure we play as a team," he said. "If we want to take this program to the next level, our offense, our defense and our special teams - all three phases have to play well."
The Cardinals and Wildcats will face each other on September 14 - the third weekend of the season - in Lexington.
"It's three games down the road and we are going to be prepared to play," he said. "It's just like anytime you go on the road, you have to pack your defense. You have to play well as a football team, not only in Lexington, but each week that we step out to go play."
As it has done in years past, Kroger donated $10,000 to both school's Athletic Scholarship Fund.