All throughout the offseason and fall camp, University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong and his assistant coaches said that finding some leadership would be a key to success for this year's team.
The Cardinals only have 10 seniors on the roster.
Strong said on Monday happy with the leadership his team has seen this season but noted he created a leadership committee just before Big East Conference play began to give the players more responsibility.
The third-year head coach said this was the first time he had done this and noted there were 15 or so players on the committee, which meets several times a week on a wide-range of topics, including locker room issues, practice plans, game preparation, team-building ideas and plenty of other topics.
"I feel like we have matured enough to where I can give things to the team and let them go make decisions instead of the coaching staff always making them," Strong said. "The first two years, we were just trying to get a foundation.
"I just didn't know who had bought into the program at that time."
But now Strong has a clear idea and the Cardinals have responded. The more mature squad take an 8-0 record into Saturday's game against Temple and is one of just six teams undefeated in the country.
Strong said it's not like the leadership committee runs the team – he's still the boss and his staff has first call – but they give the players some input.
"There's a lot of young guys on this team, so the few and far-between veterans like myself have to pull them along and get them going in the right direction," senior offensive lineman Alex Kupper, who is on the committee, said.
Kupper is joined on the committee by senior center Mario Benavides, senior backup quarterback Will Stein, junior linebacker Preston Brown and sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Strong didn't name the others on the committee.
"You can see the message is being repeated and is taken back to the locker room," said Strong, noting the committee is doing the job he expected.
The Cardinals have great chemistry this season, according to Strong, and that's evident by recent weeks. U of L has trailed in five straight games, only to rally and remain undefeated on the season.
Strong said he hopes the committee can help smooth out any troubles the Cardinals' might have before they become problems, especially heading into the final four-game stretch for the team.
"It's all about guys taking ownership of the program," Strong said. "A lot of times we don't hear what's going on in the locker room. We don't hear the conversations going on, but if something isn't right, (the committee) can get it right."
Defensive end Deiontrez Mount, who is not on the committee, said the guys on it "are not enforcers," but encourage the rest of the squad.
And Strong hopes the message from his staff and the committee is loud and clear, "we need to stay focused."
"It's a one-game season every week," he said. "We have to stay focused."