The recruitment of one of Ohio’s best high school running backs was probably one of the highlights during the last three seasons at the University of Louisville.
Darius Ashley, high school phenom, with over 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns, leading his Cincinnati St. Xavier team to a state championship during his senior year. He performed well his freshman year at U of L, second in overall yardage, averaging 4.4 per carry. Impressive start for a freshman, ready to make waves.
But new U of L football coach, Charlie Strong, would have other ideas. He saw in Ashley a player who could fill a gaping hole on defense. Moving this promising running back to cornerback.
The switch doesn’t seem to affect Ashley’s positive attitude. While he sometimes misses carrying the ball, he doesn’t miss all the hits that came with that role. He wants to do well, and he will, no matter where Charlie Strong wants him to play.
Speaking at the monthly meeting of the Sportmen’s Supper Club on Wednesday, Charlie Strong madeÂ very clear in his 25-minute talk that he’ll only accept one thing out of his University of Louisville football players this fall.
The conclusion was inescapable for the 200 fans in attendance: Bring it or go elsewhere. Maximum effort will go hand-in-hand with high expectations and coaches who are here to win.
“I can’t tell you what our record will be this year yet,” he said. “That and whether we’ll beat Kentucky are the two most questions people ask me.”
Strong confided, however. “What I will tell you is that I’ll have a team on the field that will give me and the fans 100 per cent. Or, they won’t be out there.Â Don’t know who will be my starting quaterback yet but I will tell you it’ll be the guy who does the best job this fall in practice”
Strong offered a few glimpses into some decision he has made since arriving on the U of L Campus, including moving of Darius Ashley from offense to defense.
“I like him over there,” said Strong. “He made the commitment, he’s down to about 180-185 pounds and he looks like a defensive back. I think he’ll please us, the fans and himself with the commitment.”
On Doug Beaumont:
“I told him: You take one to the end zone this year, and yeah, I’ll let you spike it. (The remark drew the biggest round of laughter of the evening.)
On Josh Chichester:
“He’s 6-foot-9. He should be able to catch something, shouldn’t he? He’ll get a chance to prove it to us”
On the season ahead:
“We have seven home games. Seven chances for you to get out there and get behind this team. I want you out there supporting these guys. We’re going to do everything we can to get them ready. You get behind them.”
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Charlie Strong is not a care free distributor of words. Each one counts, like he hopes each action by his defensive and offensive does. He tells you in plain, simple and clear English what he expects. He knows that he didn’t inheirit a ton of returning talent.
He believes he can make what he has better, make them try hard and he is confident he can build upon what he has each year. He is grateful for his chance to finally wear the head coaching cap. He is putting his all into it and he has high standards.
That, alone, should please Louisville fans this upcoming season. He’s here to get the job done. He expects the same out of those who will coach with him and play for him. He is driven and determined.
Cardinal fans, we are fortunate to have him. Let him know. This isn’t a waffling, iffy, introspective Steve Kragthorpe. This is Charlie Strong coming at you, all barrels blazing and ready to settle this thing.
I have a feeling he will, much to the satisfaction of those watching and waiting.
Gusting winds and driving rain an hour before the University of Louisville’s spring football game, the worst weather conditions since a tornado warning played havoc with this event at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium two years ago.
The drenching coming after a week or more of perfect weather, the kind that fills stadiums on Friday nights. In a community wanting to get behind a new coach, back to becoming competitive, on the road to winning ways.
Not to be this night, a steady and soaking drizzle putting a damper on Coach Charlie Strong’s public debut, attracting mostly hard-core football fans — somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 — for an event that attracted more than 15,000 last year.
Good to see Doug Beaumont finally get to the end zone after three years. Would have been twice if he hadn’t been stopped on the one on a previous drive. He has the desire and talent, now the coaching and responsibility, to do so a regular basis.
Bilal Powell moving the ball better, reminding fans of what made him a fan favorite during his freshman year.
Jacques Caldwell is lightning quick, looks like he is going to have opportunities to put his 4.3 speed to work at last. A couple of impressive runs.
Cornerback has always seemed to be a worry at U of L. Good to finally see a super athlete like Darius Ashley at that position.
Quarterback Adam Froman doesn’t inspire confidence but he’s compared with a lot of great quarterbacks in U of L’s past. Still, one knows he going to be challenged quickly at that position in the fall.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, this time of year gives us an opportunity to reflect on the many things for which University of Louisville fans can be thankful. Here is a brief list of the things that give us reason:
Jeff Walz and the Lady Cards. A trip to the final four, the excellent play of Angel McCoughtry and the encouraging start to the 2009-10 season. The electric atmosphere in Freedom Hall for games is something you need to experience.
Rick Pitino and the men’s team. A trip to the regional finals and good times in Indy. A new team that has 10 guys that may not have the NBA draft status of T-Will and Earl, will give Cardinal fans plenty to get excited about in the upcoming season. An exciting mix of the new and old, and a coach that can get it done.
Dan McDonnell and the baseball team. The fun involved with watching Chris Dominguez, the tight pitching staff and another run at Omaha is a blessing and another dynasty in Cardinal athletics is evident.
Tom Jurich for the coaches he has hired, the wise decision making he has displayed and the patience to make a studied and informed decision on the future of a particular program that needs some changes.
A football team that produced and developed some exciting playmakers. Trent Guy, Scott Long, Vic Anderson, Darius Ashley and my defensive heroes gave me a reason to go and cheer, despite the dismal season results.
Leonard Yelin and the overachieving volleyball team. Learning and growing as the season progressed, they were the best in the Big East tournament and will play in the NCAA Championships.
Ken Lolla and the men’s soccer team. Another Big East trophy to put in the showcase and the promise of more things to be grateful about next year.
Pam Bustin and the field hockey team. Perennial top 10 rankings and a stellar performance from a young and rebuilding squad. Another sport you need to go out and watch life. You’ll be thankful that you did.
Sandy Pearsall and women’s softball. The Lady Bat Cards are building a roster that is second to none in the Big East and play in the best facilities in the Big East, if not the nation.
Track and field, women’s soccer, swimming, golf, all nationally competitive, too. Lacrosse coming on. That’s what happens when you start a list, wow.
Finally, a thank you to all those involved with this site. Whether a contributor, observer or occasional guest, you make the show here and we thank you for your wise council, excellent columns and comments and discussion that far outshine any other Cardinal sports site on the Internet.
May the joy of the Thanksgiving season, time with friends and family and reflection on all the things we can truly give thanks for fill your heart with happiness and cheer your hours during this holiday season.
[stextbox id=”custom”]Not that we’ve seen much of him in recent games …
There will officially be one less weapon for Steve Kragthorpe’s offense in the season finale: Victor Anderson will undergo surgery Tuesday and miss Friday’s game.
Anderson did not see action against South Florida and has been used sparingly since injuring his clavicle, participating only in eight games. He is the leading rusher with 473 yards and five touchdowns.
Darius Ashley and Bilal Powell will carry the load against a Rutgers defense that gave up 213 yards rushing and 211 passing in a shocking 31-13 loss to Syracuse.