BOZICH | Reggie (Bonnafon) looks like Cards' Mr. October - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Reggie (Bonnafon) looks like Cards' Mr. October

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Reggie Bonnafon, U of L's freshman quarterback, worked with the first team again Monday. Reggie Bonnafon, U of L's freshman quarterback, worked with the first team again Monday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – If you watched the way Everett Golson of Notre Dame embarrassed the Syracuse defense Saturday night, you know which University of Louisville quarterback is more likely to succeed against the Orange Friday night:

Reggie Bonnafon, the Cards' precocious freshman, a guy who has shown the same marvelous mobility as Golson.

I'm not predicting Bonnafon will complete 25 consecutive passes and throw for four scores the way Golson tormented Syracuse last weekend. Golson is a junior, one of the best quarterbacks in America.

But Bonnafon is more likely to dance safely away from the Syracuse pass rush and complete passes than a guy (Will Gardner) dealing with an injured knee.

When you look at the work Golson did, he wasn't throwing a string of home runs. He averaged 9.3 yards per passing attempt.

And it's not as if Syracuse has America's greatest pass defense. In fact, it's the worst pass defense in the Atlantic Coast Conference when you rank teams by the completion percentage of opposing quarterbacks.

Opposing teams have completed more than 65 percent of their passes against the Orange. Syracuse has intercepted two of 126 attempts. You can take your chances with a younger guy against a defense that is not transforming bad passes into turnovers.

Bonnafon looks like the guy, a guy who can make yardage out of trouble. He can do better than he did against Wake Forest – 16 of 32 for 206 yards without a touchdown.

But Bonnafon is not yet officially the guy. U of L coach Bobby Petrino isn't ready to name his quarterback for the Cards' fourth Atlantic Coast Conference game. A decision between Gardner or Bonnafon could come Tuesday.

“I think we have to wait and see, see how healthy (Gardner) is,” Petrino said.

“I really think we'll know a little bit more (Tuesday), you know, how much he can do in practice, how it responded. He would need to get some work to be able to get in and play or be in an emergency role maybe, that if everything goes well, he stands on the sideline, that type of a deal.

“I'm not really sure. I was encouraged that he was out there today and he was throwing the ball. I think the whole deal will be how he responds to being out there today. How much swelling and what the doctor says in the morning.”

Sometimes coaches talk through the media to their fans. Sometimes the message is for their players. And sometimes there is another target:

The opposing coaching staff.

I wonder if the Syracuse football team is the audience Petrino was addressing with his update on the team's quarterback situation after practice Monday.

Petrino said Gardner, the Cards' starter in the first four games, was uncertain for Syracuse because of his tender knee injury. Gardner practiced Monday, but performed individual work, not live drills.

Petrino said doctors will examine Gardner Tuesday morning. He said Gardner would need work against defenders before he could start (not play) against Syracuse.

With a Friday game, this is a short practice week. That live work must come Tuesday or Wednesday. That's another factor in favor of Bonnafon. Petrino continued to praise the way the freshman has played this season.

“He did a lot of good things,” Petrino said. “He missed some plays, some things that he wished he could have had back.

“Always what happens when you're young and you're in there live, at first you do some things that you didn't do in practice …

“… There's two plays where he would have had a touchdown, one a pass, one if he would have just ran it in, that we got the exact same look in practice. That's growing up and learning. He did show his competitive spirit and I really liked his poise. I thought his poise was good.”

Make the opposing team prepare for two quarterbacks as long as you can. It's the smart coaching call.

But Reggie Bonnafon looks like the guy most likely to succeed against Syracuse.

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