It’s been more than three months since the University of Louisville football team captured one of the biggest victories in school history with a win over the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl.

The Cardinals will complete spring practice on Friday before taking the field at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Spring game on Saturday at 1 p.m.

“It’s been hard,” defensive tackle Brandon Dunn said of spring practice. “Everybody is competing and jobs are not settled. The young guys are learning from the veterans, and there is just a good vibe around the program.”

There is a different feeling around the program because it’s the most veteran team that head coach Charlie Strong has brought back in his four seasons.  Fifty-three letterwinners return for the Cardinals, including 19 starters.

“Practice has gone smoothly,” Dunn said. “The meeting rooms are solid. There aren’t a lot of mistakes being made. It’s just a veteran team. It’s a disciplined team. They know what to do and what not to do. It’s a workplace. Everyone is taped and braced for practice and you don’t have to find players.”

Lofty expectations are being placed on this team based on its 11-2 record from last year and the return of many key veterans and a few transfers who sat out last season.

“Coach Strong has told us we played a good game against Florida,” defensive tackle Roy Philon said. “But that’s behind us. We need to start back over and try to go further this season. When coach Strong tells us something we listen to him because we know it’s in our best interest. “

Spring ball isn’t as much of a grind for the players like fall camp. The Cardinals conducted 14 practices before taking the field on Saturday for the spring finale. While players have the opportunity to work on their individual skill-set without having to focus on their next opponent.

“Spring ball helps you perfect what you have to do in fall camp,” Philon said. “Spring is basically fundamentals and working on yourself. It’s working on yourself so you can be better during the season. The defensive line took a step forward from last season. The defensive line looks good out there.”

For just the third time this spring, the Cardinals will compete in front of their loyal fans at the spring game. The Cardinals are looking for a huge crowd on Saturday to surpass the 25,000 that attended the 2007 spring contest.

“It’s a good thing,” Philon said of the spring game. “I hope we get a big crowd out there to show their support.”

There are lots of activities surrounding the spring game, starting at 9:30 a.m. There will be live music in the Street Fest area with food, $1 beers and carnival rides for both children and adults. Tickets for rides will be sold per ride or an all-day pass can also be purchased.

Once the gates open at noon, $1 beers will be available only on the Norton Terrace, and concession stands will be open throughout the main concourse.

The NCAA champion men’s basketball team and national runner-up women’s basketball team will be honored at the spring game and fans will be able to take their picture with the championship trophy from 10 a.m. -12:30 p.m. in Street Fest.

The women’s basketball team will sign autographs in the main concourse once the gates open at noon.

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