Smith optimistic about UofL's future

Though Louisville lost Saturday's season-opener to Kentucky 23-16 before a record UofL crowd, Cardinals quarterback commit DaMarcus Smith came away encouraged about the direction Charlie Strong's program is headed. Smith spoke with Sunday afternoon about his visit to UofL for the annual Governor's Cup battle.

DaMarcus Smith has seen a lot of games at PJCS in his life. But he's never seen one quite like Saturday's game between Louisville and Kentucky in the newly expanded stadium.

Though the Cardinals lost the game 23-16 before a record UofL crowd, Smith came away encouraged about the direction Charlie Strong has the Cardinals headed.

"It was a good experience," said Smith, one of Charlie Strong's top 2011 commitments. "It kind of went as expected. The offense could have done a little better, but it's a new coaching staff and all so you really couldn't expect big improvements just yet. It's a rebuilding process and it's going to take [time]."

Smith said yesterday's game had a big-time atmosphere with the newly expanded upper-deck at PJCS.

"I've been going to Louisville games since I was five years old and besides that Florida State game back in [2002], that was the livest game I've ever been to as far as the atmosphere with the fans and how loud it got," Smith said. "It was like none of the other games I've been to."

Smith was in the UofL locker room after the game. He said the Louisville coaching staff and players were upbeat despite a disappointing loss to Kentucky.

"I got to talk to Coach Strong, my quarterback coach [Mike Groh] and the players," Smith said. "They still have a positive attitude, they're ready to get after it and it wasn't a conference game. They're still positive and they know we have a lot of work to do."

Smith was one of several dozen recruits who visited Louisville Saturday, including several of the top prospects from the state of Kentucky.

"I think all the main recruits, the ones we were trying to target, they were all aware that we're not the team we're going to be in the near future," Smith said. "This game didn't change their minds about Louisville. They know it's going to be okay."

What provides Smith confidence that Strong has Louisville heading the right direction?

"It's just a feeling that I get around him," Smith said. "It's the vibe I get when I'm around him, his presence, he's used to winning and he's going to do that here. I'm smart enough to understand that just because we have a new coach it's still the same team from last year. It's going to take some time for him to get his own players in and I'm just ready to be a part of the team."

Strong told Smith after the game that he's a key player in Louisville's rebuilding effort.

"He told me he wants me to get there early and they really want to build the program around me and he looks at me as the future of the program," Smith said. "It's an honor for him to think so highly of me. I just want to be a part of it."

Smith, who missed his junior season with a knee injury, has guided Seneca to a 3-0 start this season. He threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns against Fern Creek last Friday, while also rushing for 50 yards and another score.

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