CRAWFORD & BOZICH | Petrino talks about how Louisville will boun - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD & BOZICH | Petrino talks about how Louisville will bounce back against Kentucky

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino said he's not concerned about his team being deflated after last Thursday's upset loss to Houston that effectively ended the Cardinals' College Football Playoff hopes.

There are many Muhammad Ali quotes displayed inside the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex. One of them is this: "Inside of a ring or out, ain't nothing wrong with going down. It's staying down that's wrong."

"We all understand that hey we’ve got to get off the ground, get ready for a game," Petrino said. "We’ve got to have a great attitude, approach practice properly. Approach our preparation properly and come out and have one more time with our seniors in our home stadium."

The Cardinals opened as 24 1/2-point favorites for Saturday's noon game against rival Kentucky on ESPN. They also haven't scored a first-half touchdown since beating Boston College on Nov. 5.

But Petrino isn't worried about his team hanging its head or remaining in a funk.

"We went out and worked last night and practiced last night, and our guys were good and focused and giving great effort," Petrino said. "What we'll see for sure in practice this week is that this is a group that practices extremely hard and very focused and gets prepared to play well."

More thoughts from Petrino's Monday news conference:

1). WHAT NEEDS TO BE CORRECTED? Against Houston, the Cardinals were penalized 15 times for 114 yards. They lost three fumbles without recovering either ball that Houston dropped. With one regular-season game to play, the Cardinals have lost 20 fumbles, five more than any FBS program.

Petrino outlined those problems and more.

“There’s a lot more than one thing," he said. "When you look at a video or you get beat, you always think about or consider two things: Did we just get beat? Or did we beat ourselves Certainly that game was a combination of the two. Certainly you give Houston a lot of credit. They’re a very good football team. They did a good job. We didn’t play as well as we normally do. We got a little bit out of our character. So it was combination of the two.”

The offensive line also struggled, allowing 11 quarterback sacks while being whistled for multiple false starts. In the last four games, the Cardinals have allowed 23 sacks, increasing the season total to 36, which ranks 121st among 128 FBS programs.

"The sacks are always a team deal," Petrino said. "It’s always the entire offense. It’s not just the offensive line. Everybody’s got to take their responsibility and their part of it. And the penalties. We just got to do a better job of focusing and playing in that type of atmosphere." 

2). DOES LAMAR JACKSON NEED A BIG GAME TO SECURE THE HEISMAN TROPHY? It's a fair question. National speculation after the game was that Jackson might've left the door open with the loss at Houston. But at the online sportsbook, odds for the Heisman have been taken off the board for the reason that "odds are astronomically in favor of Jackson."

Petrino said that will not be a part of the team's thinking against Kentucky, or of Jackson's thinking.

"Our focus is completely on this game," Petrino said. "Winning this game and doing everything we need to do to successful and winning this football game and, like I said, sending the seniors out with a win. I think Lamar’s been that way all year long. He hasn’t been concerned about that. He’s been worried about his performance and how I can help my teammates win. You’ve really got to take your hat off to him and how well he’s handled it and how great of a competitor he is. And he truly does care about his teammates."

3). PETRINO'S TAKE ON KENTUCKY. The Wildcats' running game has steadily climbed in the national rankings over the past month. In fact, in the month of November, the Wildcats rank seventh nationally in rushing offense at 303.3 yards per game. Also in November, Louisville ranks No. 6 nationally in rushing defense, giving up just 67.4 yards per game.

"Kentucky’s playing good football," Petrino said. ". .l.Their offense has been running the ball really well. They’ve got two 1,000 rushers. They’ve made a commitment to running the football. . . . They now have a quarterback (Stephen Johnson) who can also run the ball and throw the ball deep. And they’re running a lot of the Wildcat came. They switch it up. The installation of the quarterback has really helped because he has a strong arm and he can throw the deep ball. Once you loosen people up you can throw the ball better. But they also throw the ball a lot out of the Wildcat. More than anybody we’ve played, they’ve made that commitment to that formation."

4). ON FANS' DESIRE TO BEAT KENTUCKY. When Petrino first came to Louisville, he had just left Auburn and was surprised at how much interaction there was between the U of L and UK fan bases. But he said he's grown to appreciate it.

"Ever since the first time I've been here it's been unique, for me, because, you actually have people in your neighborhood who are Kentucky fans, you know," Petrino said. "When I first got here I thought, man, this is really weird. It used to upset me. I'd get mad, tell my kids to egg their windows. Whatever. Actually I didn't tell them that, but I wanted to. But then you realize this is a big city in Kentucky, and you've got both Louisville fans here and Kentucky fans here. And I remember the first Governor's Cup golf tournament I went to, and there was a guy I knew really well and felt had always supported me and he's wearing a blue sweater. I said, 'What the heck?' You know, it shocked me. Then you kind of understand that it's a little different rivalry than Auburn-Alabama, where people hate each other. It's really not that way here. You do business with each other. But, in saying that, you want to have the pride of winning the game. Everybody wants the pride of walking around for a year and saying, 'We won this game.'"

5). PETRINO AND THE KENTUCKY JOB. Petrino was asked at one point, when he was looking to get back into coaching and the Kentucky job came open, if the school ever contacted him. His dad had told a national publication that Petrino would love to coach in the Southeastern Conference again. UK wound up hiring Stoops. Petrino wouldn't touch the question of UK interest with a first-down marker.

"Oh my God, that's a long time ago," Petrino said. "That's something I'm not interested in going back and visiting. That's a long time ago."

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