Looking for leaders in Louisville

Louisville coach Charlie Strong has been asked 1,000 different ways about the makeup of his team headed into 2013, about its potential, about the opportunity to run the table.

And we have not even hit August.

Those questions will only increase as the season grows closer but for right now, Strong wants one of his own answered -- Who will step up and become a leader on this team? The obvious answer is quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, of course. But Strong knows you need more than one strong leader to field a championship team.

Though the senior class was very small last year, the Cards got some great leadership out of center Mario Benavides, who had lived through the ups and downs in the program to start virtually every game of his career. Daniel Brown and Adrian Bushell provided leadership defensively.

This year is different, not only because of expectations but because this is a more veteran group.

Yes, Bridgewater is back, but the Cards have a much larger senior class than they did a year ago, and will have more senior starters as well. Strong has keyed on linebacker Preston Brown emerging as his defensive leader, now that he is going into Year 3 as a starter.

The Cards have players accustomed to the system. They have a coaching staff that has remained nearly intact. Strong hopes that helps the team remain focus despite the outsized expectations.

"The guys are really working and they understand," Strong said recently from the ACC spring meetings. "What’s great about it is they’re welcoming the challenge but do we have enough leadership to take a hold of it and do we have enough leadership where our players will understand how hard they have to work?

"It’s all about leadership. You have guys that have been in the program. We’re going into our fourth season as a coaching staff so we feel like we’ve established enough with our players that they understand the workload and what it’s all about now."