This was no light workout for the Cardinals just two days before the spring game.
Strong, Louisville's tough-minded first-year coach, put his team through a two-hour situational scrimmage that was designed to instill toughness in his team.
Seemingly, that's been Strong's way all spring.
"That's what you look for in every football team, just to see how tough you are," Strong said. "Tomorrow is a shorts day because it's the day before the Friday night scrimmage. Today we just needed to go out and put them in some situations and let them work through some situations."
Besides instilling toughness into a team that folded often in the second half of games last season, Strong's other main goal of the spring was to make continual improvement in his players fundamentals and techniques. Strong said he was pleased with the progress in those areas.
"It's all about fundamentals and technique and that's what we hoped we did each day is just improve," Strong said. "That's what we want our guys to do improve and get better. We just wanted to make progress each day. It's fundamentals and techniques in the spring."
Clearly, Louisville's strength this spring has been the offense. That success has been fueled by a veteran offensive line and the play of senior running back Bilal Powell. Powell had another big day Wednesday, rushing for a pair of touchdowns. Powell was virtually untouched on both runs, one a 12 yard score, the other a short sweep around left end.
Wide receivers Andrell Smith and Josh Chichester also had good days. Chichester made an outstanding over the shoulder catch, making a nice adjustment to catch the ball. That catch drew applause from former players L.T. Walker and Chris Campa, who were on the sideline watching the play. Smith made two catches deep down field, including an acrobatic one-hand grab while somehow getting a foot down inbounds.
Darius Ashley stood out on defense. He worked with the first team at cornerback, and made two big plays around the goal line, breaking up a pass in the end zone intended for Josh Chichester and making a touchdown saving tackle against Pete Nochta. Ashley, a converted running back, has shown he's a physical corner who's capable of making the tackle from his new position.
"He's doing a good job," Strong said. "It's just so hard because he hasn't been challenged that much. The thing you want with Ashley is he accepted that move and it's great that he did because I think he can help us at that position."
With the physical portion of spring practice complete, Strong will spend the next day or so preparing his team for their first game inside PJCS since their final regular-season game last season against Rutgers. Fans disheartened after that loss will see a tougher, more physical and disciplined team Friday night.
"We're just going to give the guys a chance to go out and have some fun in front of a crowd," Strong said. "We're just going to put the ball down, let them go play and let them scrimmage and have fun."