TRANSCRIPT: Louisville's Bobby Petrino talks College GameDay matchup with Clemson
A transcript of Bobby Petrino's Monday news conference previewing Louisville's College GameDay showdown against No. 3-ranked Clemson.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino met with media on Monday to talk about Saturday's prime-time matchup with No. 3-ranked Clemson in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
It marks the second straight year that the Cardinals will play host to ESPN's College GameDay in Week 3, and Petrino talked about the hype, and the matchup. Clemson opened a three-point favorite in the game. Petrino's answers here are transcribed, the questions are paraphrased.
OPENING STATEMENT: Watching the video, it was a very good win for us on the road at North Carolina. Obviously, we didn't do everything right, got a lot of things to work on. But what we really did was compete extremely hard. I was very proud of our players and how hard they played, how hard they fought in the second half, how we responded to controversy, I thought was really good. We had a lot of poise, a lot of confidence. I thought a couple of times when we got the lead and then they came right back that our guys responded really well. To have that 99-yard drive at the end to go score and win the game was something that was good to see because we really did do a great job of blocking, good job of power running and speed running. So it was a good way to win a game.
Obviously, looking forward to Saturday. Should be fun, exciting time for us to have Game Day coming back again. Last year, I know, was a real special time for our players and coaches and families and fans. So hopefully it will be same time of experience this year going against a very good football team. When you watch Clemson play they always have a great defense, a real strong defensive front, fast linebackers and secondary and do a really good job of playing together and playing hard. So we've got a great challenge there and have to be able to mix the run and the pass and be balanced, not just counting on one phase running or passing.
Defensively, it's going to be real important for us to stop the run. They've always done a good job of running the football, quarterback runs, designed quarterback runs we're going to have to be able to stop. And then they've got three really good receivers that we know well coming back that are deep threats. The quarterback played really well for them, so it's a good challenge and we're looking forward to it. Can't wait to get started in the preparation tomorrow.
HOW BIG IS IT TO HAVE GAME DAY BACK, AND WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER FROM THE GAME HERE LAST YEAR?
PETRINO: To be honest with you, the thing that jumps out at me and I remember the most is when (James) Quick caught that ball on the sideline and is running down for looked to be a touchdown right before half and Corso's holding his head. That's probably the number one thing I remember.
AND HOW BIG IS GAME DAY AS A CHANCE TO PROMOTE THE PROGRAM?
PETRINO: Definitely. It's great for our recruiting and for our players. This is the type of game you grow up picturing yourself playing in. It's the type of game when I was a young kid I went out in the backyard and pretended I was Donnie Anderson, the kind of game you want to be in. It's something our players have definitely looked forward to. Would expect us to have a good week of practice. We do need to understand that we've got to work hard and grind on Tuesday and Wednesday, then be able to relax and have poise. I'm hoping that our experience last year with Florida State and going on the road at Clemson will help us there. I thought at Clemson when we started the game we had some guys who were too hyped up, so hopefully that will carry over for us.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE BUILDUP?
PETRINO: I think the energy and excitement will be there, but we need to relax and not use it up in pregame. We just need to be ready at 8:12, kickoff time, so that's what we'll shoot for.
WITH THIS STAGE COMING HERE FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR, DO YOU FEEL THE PROGRAM HAS TAKEN A STEP?
PETRINO: Yeah, I do. I was here when we were in Conference USA and Big East and battling (for recognition). I think it's a real credit to everybody who made the plans to get us in the ACC. Now we've got the ability to have all that going on. It's exciting, it's something our fans have always wanted. We appreciate all the support we get; the construction that's going on out there is because of the fans and boosters we have.
WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE CLEMSON DEFENSE?
PETRINO: They're very good up front. They've got two big, physical, fast defensive tackles, two really good guys on the edge. We played against two of their three linebackers last year who are really fast and slippery. They slip blocks and make tackles, they keep them free, they run very fast to the ball. And it's a good package. They know how to keep them free and how to add a guy to the run box, so it's a really good challenge for us. I think the thing we did last year is we went out there and played fast. Our guys didn't hesitate, so we were able to make a lot of plays.
AFTER THREE CLOSE LOSSES TO CLEMSON, HOW MUCH DO YOU TALK ABOUT FINISHING?
PETRINO: That's what we've been working on all three falls is finishing the games. We've had three really good battles with them, had our opportunities and come up short. So I think this is real important to our players that first of all we should have confidence that we're there and we can play. But it is up to us to find a way to win the game.
WHERE DO YOU STAND ON INJURIES, ESPECIALLY JAIRE ALEXANDER AND JEREMY SMITH?
PETRINO: Jaire has made a lot of improvement, but he's still day-to-day and I'm not sure exactly on him. Jeremy will be out for the season. He fractured his other small toe in his other foot in practice last Thursday. We've got a young guy starting to really come along in Colin Wilson. He's big, he's got tons of talent, we like him a lot, so we're going to have to get him cranked up and going.
HOW BIG WAS ESTABLISHING THE RUNNING GAME AT NORTH CAROLINA?
PETRINO: I thought we did a good job with it. We got better as the game went on. We were able to mix things up and change up different personnel groups and different ways to run the football. I thought Malik gave us a lot of burst and physical running. He broke tackles and got yards after contact, and that always makes things easier, gets you in better down and distance situations. I thought he helped us a lot.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON LAMAR JACKSON?
PETRINO: He's a great player. You watch him the other day and you go like, 'wow, this guy's pretty good.' Throwing it all over the place and he's running for touchdowns. The best play I liked was the one where they brought a corner off the edge and we mis-blocked it and he stepped up, kept two hands on the ball, reset his feet and threw a strike for a 75-yard touchdown. That shows a lot of maturity whereas maybe a year ago and I know for sure two years ago he would have just took off and ran. To be able to have that poise in the pocket and feel it, see it and have a quick release and accuracy says a lot about his maturity and how far he's come in his game.
WITH LAMAR HITTING A VARIETY OF PASSES, IS HE IMPROVING, ESPECIALLY ON SEAM AND SLANT ROUTES?
PETRINO: He's just getting better as a quarterback. The ability to throw the one ball, throw it hard, throw the hummer, the ability to take something off of it, the ability to throw the seam route, the deep post. You're seeing all those things show up and all the things he works extremely hard at all the time. One thing I'm very proud of is the quarterbacks work extremely hard in practice. When we go to kicking game and that, they're over there working on those throws, those techniques, things that don't always come up on the daily practice routine they're doing. I'm proud to see it show up on the field with him because it's a credit to how hard he works.
HOW DIFFERENT IS CLEMSON POST-DESHAUN WATSON?
PETRINO: It doesn’t seem like they’re changing a whole lot. He’s a really good player. He had a great game the other night. Auburn is a very good defense so it was hard. He kept his poise and came back from coming out of the game when he got hit. He showed a lot of maturity and toughness. I think one of the things that we know he is a very good runner, physical runner. Then he’s got three receivers that he can throw deep. I was impressed by his deep ball, too. He threw two very good deep balls on the sideline on his left.
AGAINST A RUNNING QUARTERBACK, DOES YOUR DEFENSE BENEFIT FROM HAVING SEEN LAMAR?
PETRINO: There will be a lot of carryover from going against our offense in camp and what you see from (Clemson QB) him. That should help. When you go in camp, the offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators are always trying to stop each other. So they’ve schemed things up. There will be some things that we rely on both offensively and defensively from what we did in camp. We’ll also be able to put Malik Cunningham down there this week, who’s a great athlete and can give us a really good look at that in practice this week.
HOW DID YOU MANAGE THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE TEAM AFTER LOSING TO CLEMSON LAST YEAR?
PETRINO: It was just about coming back. Basically what you tell the team is that it’s not going to be the last time that you feel this way. The important thing is ‘What do we do about it, sit around and cry or come out and practice and get better and win the next game?’ But the one thing they can rely on is that they really did a great job coming back in the second half last year. I was really proud of our team, the way that they competed, got an opportunity to win the game and just came up a little bit short. So we just tried to build on the fact that we came together as a team and competed extremely hard against a great football team.
WAS THAT THE MALIK WILLIAMS YOU WERE WAITING TO SEE?
PETRINO: He was doing a great job in camp. He did get a little bit nicked, a really weird injury where he got kicked in the calf. There was some nerve issue in there. He missed some time in camp. But toward the end of the year last year, you saw it. And I think we really saw it the other day. He can do a lot of things, too. He can run routes and catch the ball, just like Reggie can. I think that’s the thing that’s neat about the two of them, both of them are very, very good receivers. Both of them can do different things out of the backfield. Both of them are big enough and strong enough to protect the quarterback. So it’s a good mix to have.
TENSIONS RAN HIGH IN THE CLEMSON GAME LAST YEAR. DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THAT THIS YEAR?
PETRINO: We’re just going out and play the game, go out and play football. It will be a very intense football game.
HOW DO YOU EVALUATE THE OFFENSIVE LINE SO FAR? I GUESS IT WILL BE A KEY AGAINST THEIR DEFENSIVE LINE.
PETRINO: Yeah, it'll be a big key. They're very good. I think we took a huge step forward in the Carolina game. I thought by the end of the game, in the fourth quarter, third quarter, our technique really started to show up better on video. Mekhi (Becton), the combination blocks that he had in, really showed up, his technique, his maturity, the things that he was being coached on the sideline, he was able to take and be able to get on the field and show. I thought that Charles Stanberry and Micky Crum really helped us in the run game. They both had some real physical blocks, and we're going to need that again this week. You've got to be able to run downhill.
ARE THE PROTECTION ISSUES YOU HAD MUCH OF LAST YEAR MOSTLY SOLVED?
PETRINO: I think as an offense our timing and what we're doing technique-wise and scheme-wise, we've been on it, right now. It's a great challenge. Clemson had 11 sacks the other night, was the number I heard, that's why I'm saying that you have to be balanced. You have to be able to mix it up between the run and the pass and the quick pass, and you can't get in a situation where you're just throwing a five-step drop game. Because those guys can really rush the passer, and they have good schemes to do it, besides just a four-man rush.
WHAT ABOUT THEIR SECONDARY, BECAUSE THEY'RE PART OF THAT?
PETRINO: Yeah, they have some really tight coverage in there, and I thought they did a good job. We know a lot of those guys. We played against a lot of them last year, and then there are a couple of new guys.
WHAT KIND OF A DIFFERENCE CAN THE CROWD MAKE IN A GAME LIKE THIS, ESPECIALLY WITH A GUY MAKING HIS FIRST ROAD START?
PETRINO: It can all the difference in the world. I mean, I'm telling you one thing about our crowd, and this goes way back to the Elvis (Dumervil) days. There's a reason we have a lot of sacks at home on third down. Our ability to be loud and get off on the snap of the quarterback, it's hard on tackles when you're on the road on third down and it's really loud. There's no question that our crowd has done that before. We just have to take it up another notch this week.
HOW MUCH DID THE FLORIDA STATE GAME LAST YEAR HELP THIS TEAM PREPARE FOR THESE BIG-GAME SITUATIONS?
PETRINO: You know what was interesting for me last year was leading up to the Florida State game and our preparation for the Florida State game was the confidence that our guys showed in practice and the confidence they had all week long, to go in there to compete and have an opportunity to win the game. I think the experience now that we have on our team needs to help us prepare for this game.
YOU MENTIONED IN A PRESEASON PRESS CONFERENCE, YOU WERE ABLE TO PRACTICE FOR FLORIDA STATE WEEK THREE DURING WEEKS 1 AND 2. HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT THIS YEAR?
PETRINO: We really haven't been able to do that, you know, you open up with Purdue and then North Carolina on the road, you've just got to prepare for those games. We spent time in the offseason obviously, but so have they. So, and they generally come in and play us a little bit different, so we know that they're going to show us some new things and some things we haven't seen, and then you have to rely on making adjustments during the game, and our experience, being able to recognize it, see it. They're very multiple in what they can do defensively, and they mix things up offensively on certain guys alignments and where they play them. So it's going to be one of those situations where you have to continue to get better as the game goes on.
WHAT WAS YOUR TAKEAWAY ON SPECIAL TEAMS?
PETRINO: I was really disappointed in our special teams. We've got to kick the ball where we're supposed to and cover and stay in our lanes and recognize what's coming. We showed a lot of inexperience on our kickoff coverage team. As far as the punt return team goes, that guy just did a great job punting the ball. He punted very, very well, very different from the week before. The week before he did all rugby punt, then he came out and just did a heck of a job. They pick one up on the one-yard line. We had some tough field position. We started four times inside our 10 or 15. It was a credit to our offense to be able to drive the ball, but it's certainly not what we want.
JUST ONE FALSE START, DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT ISSUE IS SOLVED?
PETRINO: We'll continue to work on it.
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