BOZICH | No Parker, no Dyer, no problem for Louisville so far
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When Bobby Petrino uttered these eight words – “We got to play a lot of guys.” – near the beginning of his post-game press conference, you immediately understood that a good time was had by the University of Louisville football team Saturday night at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Louisville 66, Murray State 21 – and on a night when the Cards led 35-7 after less than 20 minutes, this game wasn't that close.
Five numbers to start the conversation:
75 – that's how many guys Petrino played.
“We showed maturity as a team,” Petrino said. “These games sometimes are hard to play.”
311 – the yardage advantage the Cardinals rolled up against the Racers.
“The 25th ranked team in the nation?” Murray State coach Chris Hatcher asked. “I think that they deserve to be a little higher than that, but I'm not a voter.”
7 – that's how many Louisville players scored touchdowns.
“Guys that helped us win the Miami game (Monday, and) that didn't get to play in the Miami game were able to play tonight so I was happy about that,” Petrino said.
9 – that's how many straight possessions the Cards scored on after going three-and-out on their first possession.
“Louisville has a great team,” said Murray receiver Janawski Davis.
48.5 – that's how many points the Cardinals have averaged in two games, without receiver DeVante Parker and halfback Michael Dyer – and Dyer told Petrino after the game that he'll be ready to contribute at Virginia Saturday.
“With Parker and Michael Dyer added, there's no telling what it could be like,” U of L offensive lineman Jamon Brown said.
“What you see now, us having to function without those two players is that other guys get opportunities and step up, get opportunities to show everybody what they can do.”
The only way the night could have been better for Petrino's No. 25 team would have been if more teams ranked ahead of the Cards would have lost Saturday. At the time I finished this column, three had been beaten – Michigan State (ranked 7th) and Stanford (13th) lost to other Top 25 teams. Ohio State, No. 8, stumbled at home to Virginia Tech.
I'm not certain the Cards will vault any of that trio in the new poll Monday. You don't earn much fresh love by beating a Football Championship Subdivision team, even by 45 points.
Until the focus twists totally toward Virginia (1-1), the team Louisville will visit Saturday in Charlottesville, expect the talk-show conversation Monday to begin with a pair of Louisville freshmen – quarterback Reggie Bonnafon and halfback L.J. Scott.
Petrino said he made the decision this week not to redshirt Bonnafon, even though he played only one season at quarterback for Trinity High School before committing to the Cards. Bonnafon performed as if he had been playing the position since he kicked off his diapers.
Four series, four touchdowns drives.
Bonnafon played two series in the second quarter and then the first two in the second half. He threw the ball with poise and precision, completing 8 of 11 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. He ran the ball with poise and persistence, flashing for 22 yards on five carries, two for touchdowns.
His numbers were better than starter Will Gardner (13 for 22 for 133 yards) on a night when Petrino also used Brett Nelson and Kyle Bolin at quarterback.
In 2004 Petrino mixed in another former Trinity freshman (Brian Brohm) with veteran Stefan LeFors. His eyes danced when he was asked if he would consider playing two quarterbacks again.
“We've done that before and it worked out pretty good (an 11-1 season) that time,” Petrino said. “I don't know. We have to evaluate the video and see and continue to work hard in practice. He (Bonnafon) earned the reps in the game by how hard and how well he's practiced.”
“Quarterback is quarterback,” Bonnafon said. “At the end of the day the quarterback's job is to control the offense and put points on the board. I don't think I do anything different than Will.
“A lot of people still question my ability to play quarterback. I still have a lot of room for improvement.”
As good as Bonnafon looked, Scott was equally dynamic, crackling for 126 yards on 11 carries, an averaged of 11.5 yards every time he touched the ball. When I asked Scott if he realized that he didn't look like a freshman, he seemed puzzled by the question.
“It's definitely a big thing in my household to hold yourself in a mature manner,” Scott said. “I really don't think of it as not being a freshman, I think of it as going out there and handling my business.”
There is a reason for that: When Scott was an 8-year-old halfback in Marion, Ohio, he played in a league with 12-year-olds. He started on the high school varsity squad as a ninth grader. What's the big deal?
“The depth is so tremendous and it's not like behind one back we have the same back,” Scott said. “We have so much versatility.”
It's only two games, but Louisville looks like a team with versatility and depth, qualities that Bobby Petrino knows how to employ.
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