BOZICH & CRAWFORD | Looking at Louisville football media day by the numbers
Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford take a spin through Louisville football media day by the numbers.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Football is a numbers game. Show up in force and overpower your opponent. Get more guys to the point of attack than the other team has.
WDRB had had eight people at University of Louisville football media day on Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, including a production and camera team shooting for our 90-minute pregame show to air before Louisville’s opener against Purdue on Sept. 2.
In the spirit of numbers, let’s take a look at the Cardinals’ media day – by the numbers:
0:00 – Amount of time Louisville defensive end James Hearns said he invests in worrying about the identification and arrest of the person who shot him last December off campus after a party where players had gathered to celebrate Lamar Jackson’s Heisman Trophy victory.
Hearns suffered a gunshot wound to his elbow. He missed the Cards’ bowl game with LSU. He spoke to the media for the first time since the incident Saturday and said he is not concerned his assailant has not be identified or charged.
“The thing is to be honest with you, I’m not really … you’re not the first to ask me that,” Hearns said. “It’s one of those things you wonder as it happened. But at the same time, it’s kind of hard for me to put it into words but I’ve been so focused on the upcoming season that … I’ve been so focused on just trying to better my football body. It just hasn’t been one of those things that’s been on my mind lately.”
1 – Where U of L secondary coach Lorenzo Ward ranks Bobby Petrino among the head coaches he has worked for, a list that includes Steve Spurrier and Frank Beamer. “He knows offense, he knows defense and he knows special teams,” Ward said. “He doesn’t miss a thing.”
3 – Assistant coaches who have been on Petrino’s staff all four seasons during his second run at U of L – running backs coach Kolby Smith; tight ends coach Chris Klenakis and defensive line coach L.D. Scott. Klenakis had coached the offensive line the last three seasons.
“Our staff is as strong as it’s ever been,” Scott said. “We have guys who understand what coach Petrino wants and know how to get it done.”
4 – Players who share the cover of the Louisville media guide. Jackson won the 2016 Heisman Trophy but he shares the media guide cover with defensive back Jaire Alexander, defensive lineman Drew Bailey and halfback Reggie Bonnafon.
5 (Part 1): Positions Reggie Bonnafon has played in his organized football career. The senior will move to running back this season, after playing wide receiver last year and quarterback, receiver and running back his sophomore year. His freshman year, he was the team’s starting quarterback.
But his moving from one skill position to another didn’t start in college.
“Dating back to little league, my first real position was tight end and defensive end, from there transitioned to running back, then to quarterback, fell in love with playing quarterback growing up through middle school,” Bonnafon said. “In high school played quarterback freshman year, sophomore-junior year went to receiver and played a little running back, senior year came back to quarterback, then came to Louisville, freshman year played quarterback, sophomore year played running back, quarterback and receiver, junior year played receiver, senior year back to running back.”
As a result of all that, the moves aren’t as big a deal to Bonnafon as they seem to be to everyone else.
“People are always asking, but they kind of forget I’ve been doing this a long time,” he said. “I will say I’m probably more comfortable at running back now than I’ve ever been.”
5 (Part 2) – Times offensive line coach Mike Summers has been hired by Petrino – 2003 (U of L); 2007 (Atlanta Falcons); 2008 (Arkansas); 2013 (WKU) and 2017 (U of L). Summers did not coach games at WKU, leaving for USC after a month in Bowling Green.
“He can’t get rid of me,” Summers said, with a laugh. “We understand football similarly. We understand and agree on how you approach the game in terms of coaching. Coach Petrino has made me a better coach through the years.”
6 – Where ESPN ranked Jackson in its listing of top players in college football for 2017, even after he swept the awards for college football player of the year a season ago – including the Heisman.
But that wasn’t the biggest slight. That honor goes to FOX College Football analyst Joel Klatt, a former Colorado quarterback who didn’t even rank Jackson among his top five college quarterbacks for 2017 (he had Sam Darnold of USC No. 1, followed by Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Penn State’s Trace McSorley.
Asked if Jackson pays attention to that kind of thing, junior wideout Jaylen Smith said, “He doesn’t look at it, but I look at it, because I catch the ball from him every day, every rep I go, I go with Lamar, so I don’t see it. I don’t see how you can pick one quarterback ahead of Lamar, let alone five. Lamar doesn’t pay much attention to that. He knows what he’s capable of, and what this team is capable of, and he just goes with the flow.”
Jackson’s position coach, Nick Petrino, said that kind of thing doesn’t even register with him.
“I know how good he is,” Petrino said. “I know what he can do. I know what kind of person he is. I don’t really look at the lists. . . . The guy’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever been around. I do think it motivates him. I think he hears a little bit of it and it motivates him. But the other part of Lamar that’s really good is that he doesn’t listen to outside stuff. But other people bring it up to him. . . . I know if I were the quarterback and I heard it, it would motivate me.”
8 – Sorry, Lamar Jackson, but you’ve got to share this number with eight teammates with the last name of Smith – linebacker Damien; safety Dee; receiver Jaylen; halfback Jeremy; halfback Jovel; halfback Jovan; cornerback TreSean and halfback Trey. A ninth Smith – former Cardinals coach John L. Smith, who now is head coach at Kentucky State – has been a consultant for Petrino and his staff for special teams play. Add assistant Kolby Smith for 10.
9 – Seniors expected to start for Louisville this season – two (Bonnafon and tight end Charles Stansberry) on offense and seven (linemen Bailey, De’Asian Richardson, Trevon Young and Hearns; linebacker Stacy Thomas and backs Chucky Williams and Zykesis Cannon) on defense.
27 – Catches made by Jaylen Smith last season, making him the Cards’ top returning receiver. Petrino said that after looking at video from 2016 he realized that the offense needs to target Smith, who made a game-winning catch in the final minute at Virginia. “He pulls me aside sometimes and tells me, ‘We’ve got to get you the ball,’“ Smith said.
50 – Yards from the end zone when running backs coach Kolby Smith knows that Lamar Jackson has a touchdown if he’s in the open field. “Lamar is the best player in the country,” Smith said. “You can’t take away what he does best. He’s going to keep running the ball.”
88 – Age of Summers’ father-in-law, former Kentucky basketball coach Joe B. Hall. Summers said another benefit of returning to Louisville has been the opportunity for him and his wife, Kathy, to visit Hall in Lexington on a regular basis. “He lives in the same place and goes to lunch every day over at the church with the other know-it-alls,” Summers said.
238 (pounds): The weight Hearns said he will carry this season after improving his conditioning with recovering from his gunshot wound. “I’m a little leaner by about four or five pounds,” Hearns said. “I just wanted to get a little leaner to make my body feel better for the longevity of the season.”
295 (pounds): Lamar Jackson’s bench press total on testing day for the Louisville football team. He was hoping to get to 300, but demonstrated for reporters that he couldn’t quite lift it all the way up.
“I wanted to be in the 300 club – everybody else was and I’m kind of getting a little cold shoulder around there (the weight room),” Jackson said.
Jackson came into camp at 208 pounds, up about 10 pounds from where he was in the spring, and while a lot has been made of his added muscle, he says it hasn’t changed his game.
“I feel big,” Jackson said. “They guys always tell me, ‘You’re getting bigger.’ I tell them, don’t do that to me. Chill out.”
350 (pounds) – Weight that freshman offensive tackle Mekhi Bechton carries on his mammoth 6-foot-7 frame, 10 more than his listed weight in the U of L media guide. Summers said that Becton has been impressive during the first week of practice and currently projects as the starter at right tackle. “He is an amazing athlete for his size and has done some pretty cool things so far,” Summers said.
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