Two-a-days are never easy, even for the best conditioned athletes. Louisville coach Charlie Strong's version of two-a-days, by most accounts, has been tough - very tough. It might not have been boot camp, but it might not have been far off either.
Fortunately, Strong's players can see light at the end of the tunnel. Louisville practiced twice Wednesday, perhaps the final two-a-days of fall camp.
The Cardinals will practice only once Thursday, in the morning, and scrimmage Saturday morning. UofL officials didn't know Wednesday afternoon if the team would practice twice Friday. Once school starts Monday, however, two-a-days will be done.
"The heat has just been the biggest challenge," senior offensive tackle Byron Stingily said. "Coach Strong does a good job making sure there's no slacking just because it's hot. I think that's been the toughest aspect, just getting in shape and dealing with the heat."
William Savoy, a junior defensive end, said Strong's two-a-days were difficult.
"The mentality has been the hardest part," Savoy said. "You've got to come out here with the mentality to do it. You get towards the end and you are tired and your body hurts. You've got to keep grinding and have the mentality to keep playing."
"We've been practicing pretty hard," Savoy said. "Even though two a days are over we've got to keep practicing. We've still got a lot of stuff to learn and we've still got to get better."
"We've still got to work," added Stingily. "The o-line's still got to grind even though it's the end of [two a day] camp. We've still got work to do."
Since two-a-days began last week, Strong has sequestered his team at a local hotel. He wanted to use the experience to bring his team together and forge a united front before the season starts next month.
"I really think we're starting to enjoy each other a lot [more]," Stingily said. "We're starting to laugh together as a team. Coach Strong is a pretty funny guy and at night we have team discussions where we get to know each other. We're getting a chance to learn about each other, which is something we haven't done before."
Strong brought out referees for his team's practice session Wednesday morning, which included a mini-scrimmage that once again focused on short yardage situations. Tight end Cameron Graham scored a touchdown, and Bilal Powell and Blayne Donnell also rushed for TD's.
"We had a scrimmage – goal line, just short [yardage] trying to score touchdowns," Stingily said. "The offense did good today. We executed pretty good today and it seemed like we had a lot of energy."
"Blayne Donnell did a real good job today, he was running really hard," Stingily said. "Zed Evans made some good plays and ran some people over. Those two made the o-line look good today. Blayne's been doing a heck of a job. We're pretty excited about him."
"Brandon Heath is always making plays and Malcolm Tatum was in the backfield making plays," Stingily said. "Those two are really getting after it. Safety Terence Simien comes down hill and does his thing also."
Savoy said he's seen progress from the defense since camp started earlier this month.
"First of all, to have a good defense, you need leaders," Savoy said. "You need people to step up for the rest of us to follow. Malcolm Tatum, Greg Scruggs, Brandon Heath have kind of taken on that role. We struggle sometimes but we've got to stick together, keep working hard and we'll put it together eventually."
The biggest challenge the defense still has to overcome before the Governor's Cup matchup with Kentucky?
"Honestly, just having all 11 guys running to the ball," Savoy said. "You can't have 3 out of the 11, we have to have all eleven players doing their job. Once we all do our job we'll be fine."