Petrino: Cards preparing to prove they're for real

With summer workouts now underway, Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino says that it's time for his team to begin to prove that they are worthy of the hype created by last season's 11-1 campaign.

With all the successes that came with the University of Louisville football program's 11-1 campaign of last year, comes the highest expectations ever seen for a Cardinal squad.

As team's throughout the country begin their summer preparations, a number of preseason publications have placed the Cardinals among the nation's elite. One Las Vegas oddsmaker gave Louisville 20-1 odds on claiming the 2005 BCS Championship, ahead of programs such as Georgia, Nebraska, Auburn and Alabama. The same oddsmaker has 25 to 1 odds for Michael Bush and 50 to 1 odds for Brian Brohm as potential Heisman Trophy winners.

"That's yet to be seen," head coach Bobby Petrino said of multiple top ten preseason rankings. "I truely believe we are, but this is the year that we have to step up and show it. I think this is the year that we have to prove to everybody that we are for real."

With the departure of starters such as Stefan LeFors, Eric Shelton, Kerry Rhodes, Robert McCune and others, Petrino views this summer's voluntary workouts as a vital process to his team's development into one of the best.

It's 'showtime' for Brian Brohm
"I'm excited about the quality of the returning players that we have," he said. "I'm excited about the young guys too. What we add to the mix when you start putting in some of our young players and the speed and the size that we have been able to get the last couple of years. Anytime that you return the offensive front and defensive front that we have and then combine that with some of the skill positions and I think we will have a good opportunity to go out and play well."

As in years past when former Cardinals such as Dave Ragone, Dewayne White and Stefan LeFors seemingly took control of the workout schedules, it is during these hot and humid months that the team's new leaders are found.

"One of the reasons that we don't elect captains until the first day of two-a-day's is because we like to see who is going to take the leadership for the summer and organize the workouts," Petrino explained. "The past two years the players have done an excellent job of doing that and I would anticipate that they will do that again.

With the program's move into the Big East Conference, Petrino explained that it will provide his players the needed motivation to avoid any possibility of a letdown in 2005.

"I think that is one of the great things about the transition into the Big East," he said. "We were very dominant in Conference USA last year, with the exception of the Memphis game. Now as we step up into the Big East our players have a lot to look forward to, there is a lot that they are excited about and there's a lot to be hungry about. They are very motivated."

As the influx of preseason accolades continue to pour in, Petrino says that the 2005 season is the year for the Cardinal program to prove the so-called experts right and keep it's place among the nation's elite.

"It's something that we have been working towards. We hope that we are ready to do that, but like I said, it's yet to be seen. We have to go show it and not just talk about it."

Petrino on the start of summer workouts: "The first four weeks of it are very difficult. We really try to set the standard for their long distance conditioning. They are going to be running somewhere between 1,600 - 1,800 yards when we condition during the first month and that will be very hard on them.

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