The need for more INTs
If there's one area the U of L defense needs to improve on this season it's pass defense and coordinator Vance Bedford said he hopes that's coming.
The Cardinals only had 10 interceptions all of last season after only coming up with nine picks in the first year of the Charlie Strong-era.
"Our pass defense has to be better, "Bedford said. "We need to improve in takeaways. The last two years, I think the average is nine or 10, and that's not very good. That has to be better this year."
Tommy Restivo, a graduate assistant the first two seasons in the Strong-era, has been promoted and is the new defensive backs coach.
The Cardinals also now have some returnees, including All-Big East performer Adrian Bushell and Andrew Johnson at cornerback, strong safety Hakeem Smith and free safety Calvin Pryor among others.
"If we can create more turnovers, that will give the whole defense a boost," Smith said. "We're all close and working hard as a group to get better. We have to get better. We can be a big help to the defense."
Bedford added: "For us to improve and that step forward, then we need to improve our takeaways. If those things happen, we're a better football team."
Bushell on Hornung watch list
Bushell, a senior from DeSoto, Tx., has been named to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, given to the most versatile player in college football.
The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Bushell had 50 tackles and one interception in his first season at U of L. He started his career at Florida before transferring Cedar Valley Community College in 2010.
The only other player from the Big East on the watch list is Temple running back Matt Brown, who has 2,275 career yards rushing.
Forget the hype
U of L was picked as the Big East Conference favorite on Tuesday and before the ink was dry on the copies of the poll passed out at media day, Strong was already downplaying the outside expectations.
But it didn't take defensive coordinator Vance Bedford that long. At the Governor's Cup luncheon, Bedford predicted the hype would start.
And his answer is the line the players gave at media day:
"We keep reminding them why listen to those people?" Bedford asked. "We told them to remember the past two years we were voted at the bottom by the same people. Those same people saying we're going to be good this year were the ones saying we weren't going to be very good last year.
"We don't listen to the media or the people walking down the street saying we're going to be a good football team. They just need to listen to what we tell them."
Offensive lineman Alex Kupper said the players are "getting the message."
"We just have to channel it all," Kupper said. "We know there are no gimmies out there for us. If there's a target on our back, we have to prepare even harder."
A few nuggets
*U of L announced on Thursday that fan day would be held Sunday, Aug. 12 from noon to 2:30 p.m. Gates will open at noon for an autograph session. Strong, the rest of the staff and players will sign autographs on the concourse at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Fans are asked to enter at Gate 4.
*Connecticut announced that junior college transfer Chandler Whitmer would open fall camp as the No. 1 quarterback. He had the best performance in the spring game. He played last season at Butler Community College.
*Rutgers picked up a late addition when defensive lineman Jamil Pollard said this week that he's headed there from Penn State. Pollard is a freshman but had already been enrolled at Penn State. He'll finish up summer school before moving.