TRANSCRIPT | Bobby Petrino Q&A on Louisville's spring game
Louisville coach Bobby Petrino answers questions about Saturday's Red-White Spring Game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino spoke with reporters on Thursday about the Cardinals' spring game, which will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. The coach fielded questions about the progress of quarterback Lamar Jackson, how he'll use Reggie Bonnafon, how changes in the coaching staff have worked out and much more.
The following is a transcript of his comments, with questions paraphrased.
Q: What can you get out of the game that you already haven't seen in all these days of practice?
PETRINO: One of the things you really work hard on with the spring game is starting with pregame meal, how you go about your business at pregame meal, we'll go through all of that, how we act in the training room, how we want the mood and everything in the locker room, how we go about what we call our clap session. So you really work on, it's our one time to practice for working on how you want to prepare for a game, before kickoff even starts. So that's a big part of it. A lot of times in spring football the coaches are out on the field. So this is a great time to get almost everybody off the field, so the players are out there by themselves. They have to communicate, get everything done. And it's another opportunity for them to compete and work on the depth chart. It's the players who set the depth chart, and this gives them a number of plays to show what they can do out on the field. I'm hoping we have a great crowd, because I think it's good for our players. You go 14 days of practice, and now you get to go out in front of a crowd again, and it certainly elevates your game, there's no doubt about that.
Q: Traditionally have you seen much change in the depth chart as the result of the spring game?
PETRINO: Yeah, actually. It's always one of those things, all winter long what we do is lift weights, we condition, we're working for that week of our testing, and you see who goes out and maxes out real well and lifts better than they ever have, maybe makes a jump they didn't even know they could make. And that's what we're trying to do with the spring game. Now it's your time to go out and put on a show, and you want to have your best performance to date. That's what we always talk about. Go out and have your best performance to date. I think it will be fun.
Q: How will the game be structured?
PETRINO: We're going to split it up like we did a year ago. We'll have the ones in red and twos in white. Yesterday we had a good practice. We went hard, had live tackling and some hard work in the second half of practice, ones versus ones, and it was very competitive and a lot of fun. So this will be a good way to do it.
Q: Do you release a spring depth chart, and if so, are there a lot of "ors."
PETRINO: There were a lot of "ors" last year. I'm hopeful we won't have to have those "ors" this fall. I don't think we have released a spring depth chart. A post-spring one? OK. If you want me to put some "ors" in there, just ask me. I know how to do it. You don't want to have to put all those "ors" in there, honestly. You like to be able to say these are my starting guys, these are our backups. Every once in a while. But a year ago, we didn't know guys, hardly, so you had to put a lot of "ors" in there.
Q: In that regard how much further along are you than this time last year?
PETRINO: It's hard to measure how much further, but we're definitely ahead of where we were a year ago. You look at the offensive line a year ago, Geron Christian and Kenny Thomas started the first game of the year. You look at the Clemson game, every receiver out there was a freshman or redshirt freshman, because (James) Quick and (Jamari) Staples were injured. So we're definitely ahead of where we were. Quarterback spot, we feel like we know Lamar's the starter, Kyle's the backup and Reggie will catch the ball and run with the ball. So we know a lot more about our weapons and how to use them offensively. Defensively, obviously we're way ahead in the secondary. We didn't really have a clue who would be the starters, and now we have everybody back and good competition. Some of the young corners are performing well. I still think we have some work to do with our defensive front. It's hard to replace Sheldon Rankins, who caused havoc every play, because he was an expert in knowledge of the game and a great technician. So we're not quite there yet. We'll probably have to replace his productivity with a couple of guys.
Q: You have two new coaches, and five coaches at different positions. How has that gone?
PETRINO: It's been great. I've been excited about it. I think when you look in the secondary, Keith Hayward and Cort Dennison are doing a really nice job. Keith's brought in some different techniques and fundamentals that he believes in and the guys are executing and utilizing. It's been great to get Lonnie (Galloway) in here, you know. We've added some different plays and different things to the offense, because of his knowledge of what they've done well. His expertise in coaching the receivers has really shown up. It's good to have Nick (Petrino) at the quarterback spot. He's been around it forever, and executed in the offense, been in the press box, and it's been fun to see. And I think he's at a good time to help develop those quarterbacks, because they've been in the program too. So good continuity there.
Q: Will you have a kicking game on Saturday?
PETRINO: No. We'll kick PATs and field goals. And then when we punt, it won't be a live rush. We'll just punt to change field position, and we won't do any kickoffs or kickoff returns at all. Basically try to get the field goal and PAT work.
Q: Lamar said he feels like he's improved his decision making. Have you seen that in the spring?
PETRINO: Definitely. You know, we've been really harping on two things: No. 1 is every play you have a decision to make, and we've got to start getting that decision grade up over 90 percent in a game. You get over 90 percent, most of the time we win that game. So he's worked hard on that, done a nice job of it. Specifically in the scrimmages, which is when you want to see it show up. He's got to concentrate a little after a big play as much as after a poor play. Some guys need to learn that. Some guys its really hard after they make a mistake. They throw an interception and get down, and how do they do the next five plays? Sometimes for Lamar, he'll make an exceptional play and is excitable, gets on the sideline, talks to his buddies, and it takes a little while to get his concentration back. It's a little maturity. But he's really done a nice job understanding what the progressions are, and making his decisions based off of that, instead of making his decisions based on looking at the coverage before the play.
Q: You've said he's got a really good snap of the wrist on his throws. How important is that, and who does that remind you of?
PETRINO: That's funny, because at practice last night was Jake Plummer. Jake was here, and came to practice, and then I met with him this morning on a couple of things. Jake's this little skinny guy. When I recruited him he was 156 pounds. And I thought, I wasted my whole day when he walked across the hall to introduce himself to me. Then I shook his hand, and he completely engulfed my hand, and I thought, maybe I didn't make a mistake. I've always believed that arm strength is a myth. What it really is is the ability to snap your wrist and your fingers, and that's where you get velocity from. And when you watch video of Jake as a junior in high school when I was recruiting him, I used to say boy that ball really comes out of his hand. And it was basically his ability to snap his wrist. And that's what Lamar has, that ability to snap his wrist and get the velocity based on a quick release. And he's made some throws this spring that you go, wow, we're getting really close to what we want. His timing is better because his decision making, one, and also because of his ability to snap his wrist and get the velocity that you need.
Q: How do you map out play calling in spring game, is it about getting guys touches or what?
PETRINO: Well, we do that in games. That's kind of how I've always felt -- OK this is a great play, but also about let's get the ball to Jody, he's a great playmaker. I thought I'd get a better laugh out of that. Get the ball to Reggie, or whoever.
Q: Do you do it differently in the spring game?
PETRINO: I don't know how to do it differently. That's the only way I know how to call a game is say, OK, how are we going to get the ball in Reggie's hands, and then obviously the quarterback has to be able to go through a progression. Most of the time I'm calling a play for a specific reason based on our personnel.
Q: Sounds a lot like feed the studs?
PETRINO: Yes, baby, yes. When we script our plays, and you put the plays on the board, and then you go back through them, then you said this play should get into 23s hands, or 18s hands, this play should go to 7, on this 8 will probably be running it. And then you say, wait a second, we better get Quick a touch on this first series. Everything is based on feed the studs.
Q: How has Bonnafon emerged as one of those studs?
PETRINO: He's a real playmaker. His ability to run the ball, catch it out of the backfield, catch it as a wide receiver. He just keeps getting better. It's fun to have him back there and see the different ways we can utilize him.
Q: Is there more of a plan for him on what position he'll play at this point?
PETRINO: The last week and a half he's focused more at the receiver spot and the ability to motion back into the backfield for some of the running game or passing game in the backfield. We felt like he, No. 1, he needs to take more reps at receiver to be in better shape. It's amazing how much receivers run compared to quarterbacks, and he's hurting a little bit right now. He understands how much more it is. Quick, we monitor our guys on these new GPS devices in their shoulder pads, we know how much they run, who ran full speed, who didn't run full speed. James Quick, he runs more than anybody else on the whole team. He takes more reps, goes full speed. And Reggie's finding out receiver is a little different from quarterback. We always know that, because we condition our quarterbacks after practice, we don't usually condition our other players because they get it during practice.
Q: What kind of freedom will Jackson have in making plays this year?
PETRINO: He's got room to have the freedom to execute the offense the way we want it done. That's a lot of freedom.
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