LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Charlie Strong is a coaching candidate with cache. A hard-nosed, defensive-minded winner that connects with the younger generation.
Even after he spurned a traditional SEC power to sign a loaded contract with Louisville, the rumors still swirl that a landmark university could soon offer him a deal he won't be able to refuse.
On October 1, 2011, there was no such hype. Leadership questions were swirling throughout the fan-base, not praise.
Just one week after upsetting the in-state rival Kentucky Wildcats with a freshman quarterback, Louisville lost to Marshall. The team looked lethargic, unmotivated, and even worse, unprepared. Charlie Strong blamed the mental misstep on "fake juice".
The concept of 18 and 19-year-old kids overlooking an opponent is almost expected. Their coach not correcting it before game-time...that's a problem.
Apparently, the Louisville Cardinals have officially stopped serving the "fake juice".
Charlie Strong admitted after Saturday's 72-0 win over Florida International that he stopped Friday's walk-through after 45 minutes. Players were running incorrect routes, the effort and energy was low...someone had begun brewing a large vat of indifference.
So, Charlie stopped the practice. He ordered that the team start from the beginning. "We would have stayed there until 10:00 pm if we had to", Strong said.
They redone every drill, every set. According to the players, it came with no complaints.
"I was happy he did it," confessed defensive end Marcus Smith. "We could've laid an egg out there. We have to respect the game."
"We were refocused immediately," admitted wide receiver Michael Lee Harris. "It allowed us to focus on the task at-hand. You saw that in our performance today."
FIU is bad...really bad. There are truly no insightful observations to be gained from what we saw on the field Saturday. Louisville was just more talented. As this season trudges into the mundane landscape of the AAC, this will be a repetitive theme. While cliche, Louisville is genuinely the only team that could cause the Cardinals to lose.
While it's been nearly two years since that dreadful performance against the Thundering Herd, the fear of "fake juice" has undoubtedly lingered. 18 and 19-year-olds will never stop overlooking opponents, their coach has finally stopped overlooking them.