Adrian Bushell is the reigning Big East defensive player of the week after recording seven tackles, a pass breakup and 0.5 tackles for loss in Louisville's win Saturday at FIU. The redshirt senior is familiar with current coach Charlie Strong, as Strong was the defensive coordinator of his former school, Florida, before taking the Cardinals' head-coaching job in 2010. Bushell transferred out of Florida in the spring of 2010.
Here, Bushell talks about what Louisville needs to do to prove it is serious about making a run at the Big East title.
Charlie Strong talked this week about the differences between a good and a great team. What do you need to do to pick up the level of play from the last two weeks and carry that into conference play?
Adrian Bushell: Just coming out and working hard every day. Coming out and trying to get better. He always tells us you either get worse or get better every day; never stay the same. So we try to come out and work hard every day to get better.
What do you remember about him from when you played for him down at Florida? Has he changed at all? Is he the exact same guy?
AB: The exact same guy -- it's just that he's calling all the shots now. (Laughs)
You were on a pretty great team when you were down in Florida. What can you learn from your experiences there that can help some of the less-experienced guys where you're at now to reach those goals and win a Big East title?
AB: Just probably the leadership that we had on that team, there were a lot of older guys. We don't have that many older guys here, so that kind of leadership here makes it that much better here.
What did it mean to be honored as the conference's defensive player of the week this week?
AB: It was an honor. I feel like my best ball is ahead of me. I'm just now scratching the surface, getting used to getting all the rust off, trying to get into conference play and keep it going.
What can you do better? What kind of expectations do you have for yourself?
AB: Just making more big plays, like interceptions, blocked kicks, anything of that sort.
What's it like to go up against a guy like Teddy Bridgewater every day? How is he in practice?
AB: He's a helluva player. For a sophomore, he plays much older than that. I learn things off of him, he learns things off of me. It's kind of just a give-and-take thing.
What do you guys need to do this week to wrap up your nonconference slate that will give you the confidence to know that you'll be a force to be reckoned with come conference play?
AB: We're just trying to get all four quarters together. We're 4-0 right now, better than we we were last year. Last year we were 2-2 coming off a loss to Marshall. But this year we're 4-0 and just trying to play a whole game, all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. We have yet to put a full game together. We've played two quarters here, two quarters there, a quarter-and-a-half here, and gave up the lead the last [half] to North Carolina. We've just got to put it all together and keep it going.
Coach Strong said this week that the difference this year is the you're winning games by seven points this year that you would've lost by seven points in years past. How do you feel that trust has developed with the coaching staff? How has everyone come to the same page over this time to push forward and get through some of those close games?
AB: I always say the game is 80 percent mental. So once you get a little confidence in yourself and trust your ability and trust your coaching, you go out and make plays.