Thursday signaled the first day of two a days in full pads for the Cardinals, who began fall camp last week. Faced with two practices in the soaring August heat today, the buzzword for Charlie Strong's team this morning was ‘toughness.'
"It's all about mental toughness and being in good shape," senior linebacker Brandon Heath told InsideTheVille.com following practice this morning. "Pat Moorer, our strength coach, makes sure we're in good shape to come out here for two a days. Later on this afternoon we'll be ready to go."
Cameron Graham, Louisville's senior tight end, was excited to get in full pads and do a little hitting Thursday morning.
No doubt a grind, Graham said two a days are welcome at Louisville because it gives the Cardinals more opportunity to improve on the field.
"It's not a dreaded day because we're out here getting better," Graham said. "It's a little hot out here but that's football. Two a days are two a days. Everybody in the country does this. We've got practice tonight and we've got to grind. So we've got to come back and get better tonight. That‘s our main focus."
Louisville went 25-periods during Thursday mornings practice. Charlie Strong didn't waste time finding out about his team's toughness. The Cardinals began practice with a physical goal line session. They also ended practice around 10:15 on the same drill because the Louisville coach wanted to see who was still ‘tough' after a grueling practice in the heat.
"We came out here today and started right out with goal line, team vs. team," said Heath. "We just wanted to show toughness. Coach [Strong] wanted to see how we transition from the beginning of practice when everybody has a lot of energy and do the same thing at the end of practice to see what the energy-level was like."
So who was tougher Thursday morning - the offense or the defense?
"Me being an offensive player I would say the offense, but the defense came out here and grinded," Graham said. "They were out there hitting and they had an energy. The whole team was grinding today."
Heath had a little different take on the situation.
"Not at all, the film doesn't lie," Heath said. "The defense played good. We had a lot of energy. We got to the ball and played as a team in goal line and short yardage. We played good as a defense today."
Clearly, Strong's focus Thursday was on toughness.
"The focus today was [the coaches] wanted to see how tough we are," Graham said. "No matter what drill we were doing they wanted to see who was going to grind it out in the heat and who was going to stick it out."
For the defense, that meant being aggressive, flying to the football and being physical.
"The coaches just told us to work hard and make sure when we look at film nobody was loafing and that we were playing fast and physical," Heath said. "That's something we want to go into the meeting room and hold our heads high on."
Graham said the offensive line stood out during Thursday mornings practice. "They were very physical," Graham said. "The backs made cuts when they had to but our offensive line really handled what they needed to do upfront creating a new line of scrimmage upfront."
Heath singled out tight end Josh Chichester, and running backs Victor Anderson and Bilal Powell on offense and praised the efforts of the defensive line, providing a different point of view about the team's line play during the day's first practice session.
"The [defensive line] kept the offensive line off us," Heath said. "They just pushed the pile back. The defensive line had the best day today."
‘Terence Simien made a lot of big plays," Graham said. "He really stood out to me. Malcolm Tatum and Tim High really stood out and I got to see what they were made out of today. They really stuck it out and grinded."
Louisville returns to the practice field this afternoon.
NOTE: As of Thursday morning, UofL officials say they've received no official word on clearance for freshman running back Corvin Lamb or safety Demar Dorsey.