BOZICH | Five Takeaways From Bobby Petrino's Media Session -- QB - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Five Takeaways From Bobby Petrino's Media Session -- QB Speculation Included

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Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said the Cards will announce their depth chart for the Auburn game on Tuesday. Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said the Cards will announce their depth chart for the Auburn game on Tuesday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – This is how good Bobby Petrino has become at not dropping one clue about Louisville’s starting quarterback against Auburn Saturday:

Petrino talked for more than 19 minutes Monday afternoon. He did not mention the name of a single quarterback.

Petrino has become very good at that.

That was the second consecutive time I’ve attended a Petrino Q and A and the coach did not say the words, “Reggie Bonnafon, Will Gardner, Kyle Bolin or Lamar Jackson.”

Not one time.

Deal with it, Auburn. You won’t even get a two-deep depth chart that has always been standard operating procedure at U of L.

Of course, Auburn’s media notes for the game did not include the Tigers’ first- and second-teamers either.

Petrino said that will change Tuesday when both teams have pledged to release their first- and second-teamers. Can't wait.

Except, of course, at quarterback for Louisville.

Here's five takeaways from Petrino’s Monday media session:

1. Louisville Will Use More Than One Quarterback

The Cards used multiple quarterbacks in eight of 13 games last season. In two games where Petrino stuck with one guy, Will Gardner was injured. In other words, there has not been much separation.

Petrino said he had “a pretty good idea,” who will start against Auburn. Not that he was willing to share his idea.

I’ve returned to my original pick – sophomore Reggie Bonnafon. But considering I have now picked Bonnafon and Will Gardner, I’ll still be able to claim that I predicted the starter, right?

Petrino was a bit more definitive when he was asked if he planned to use more than one quarterback. Makes sense if you intend to create a change of pace considering the contrasting styles of Bonnafon and Gardner. Or to keep Auburn guessing.

“Yeah, there’s a possibility we might play more than one,” Petrino said. “But you’d anticipate having one ready to go.

“But I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t play more than one.”

Either way, the coach said that he was encouraged by the progress that his quarterbacks have made this month.

“They understand what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’ve gotten better at recognizing defenses and seeing what the safeties and linebackers are doing and being on time with the ball.

“That’s one of the things we’ve been working hard on is our timing in the passing game and getting the ball out before the receiver is actually open.”

2. Auburn’s Trademark is a Bone-Crunching Running Game

For all the talk about the way Auburn coach Gus Malzahn develops quarterbacks, Auburn typically runs the ball with gusto. The Tigers are one of five schools in the nation that have developed a 1,000-yard rusher every season since 2009 – and they have averaged more than 293 per game rushing the last two seasons.

“I think defensively we have to stop the run,” Petrino said. “They’ve always done a great job of running the football and working on tempo. They go fast so we’ve got to be able to get lined up, get the call and then play our technique within the call at a very fast pace.”

3. First Down is More Important Than Third Down

Analysts love to discuss how efficient an offense is converting on third- and fourth-down plays. Those are not the money downs for Petrino. Winning on first down is what wins football games.

“The best way to win third down is to win first down,” Petrino said. “That’s where it all starts to be able to put them behind the sticks by stopping the run on first down. Keeping them out of second and medium, second and short.

“But then getting off the field on third down. That’s one of the things all the up-tempo teams always talk about is, if they don’t ever get started by three and outs, it’s harder on them. So we’ve got to work hard on three and outs.”

4. Petrino Respects Malzahn

Petrino coached four seasons at Arkansas. In Arkansas high school football, Malzahn is the gold standard. Malzahn coached at three high schools, but made his name during four seasons at Springdale High School, where he won a state title in 2005.

Springdale is about 10 miles from the Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. Petrino has heard many stories about the legend of Gus Malzahn.

“There’s always similarities in what they do and what we do,” Petrino said. “They’ve always been a spread offense with run emphasis. They know how to run the ball out of the spread look. And being able to throw the ball deep. That’s something they’ve done a great job of.

“I go all the way back to watching Gus’ offense when he was a high school coach and we tried to recruit his quarterback. So we’ve had a good idea of what he’s been doing for quite a long time.

“I coached against him when he was at Tulsa and Auburn both. He does a very, very good job of teaching his players how to execute.”

5. Louisville Enjoyed A Healthy Training Camp

Injuries are always a primary X-factor in college football seasons. Guys get hurt in practice as well as in games. In 2011 Petrino was in line to have one of his best teams at Arkansas.

Then running back Knile Davis suffered a devastating knee injury in early August. Yes, the Razorbacks finished 11-2, but some observers wondered if they would have been a BCS contender with a healthy Davis.

The Cards have been without receiver Alphonso Carter all month because of a hamstring issue. Other than that, the training room has not been overrun with injuries.

“We’re pretty healthy,” Petrino said. “We haven’t had (Carter) yet. He was out there a couple of days. He just had a hamstring issue he’s been battling for years. We’ve been doing a lot of studies on it and trying to figure out, ‘Are his quads too strong?’

“Because he’s a real physical guy. But he hasn’t been able to get over that.”

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