Alabama’s 18th practice of the preseason on Thursday marked a new start: It was the first practice of game preparation for the team. Alabama began installing the game plan for its season opener against Louisville, players said.

“Oh yeah, big sense of relief,” sophomore wide receiver Jerry Jeudy said. “I’ve been waiting a long time to finally play a different opponent except for ourselves. Now that the time has come, it’s like it’s finally here.”

Alabama and Louisville have only met three times in history. The Crimson Tide won the first two meetings, in 1976 and 1977 in Tuscaloosa. Louisville won the 1991 Fiesta Bowl 34-7 at the conclusion of the 1990 season in their most recent meeting. Bobby Petrino was 0-4 against Alabama during his tenure at Arkansas from 2008-11. Alabama won those four games by a combined 91 points.

“The message is ‘How are you going to respond to a team that has bad intentions for what they want to do against you and what you want to accomplish yourself?’ This team has to be focused on the identity that they want to create for themselves in terms of how they play, how they go out and execute,” coach Nick Saban said. “I think the whole idea is to be able to go play smart. More games are lost on mental errors and stupid mistakes than probably anything, especially in openers. That’s certainly something that we’re going to try to eliminate.”

The Crimson Tide will continue practice on Friday and Saturday, then take a day off on Sunday before returning to a normal game week schedule on Monday.