BOZICH | Petrino on beating Alabama, injured Louisville players, stupid text messages
Can Louisville defeat Alabama in the Cards' football season opener? U of L coach Bobby Petrino said his players cannot have any doubts.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The wagering world does not believe that Bobby Petrino’s University of Louisville football team can come within three touchdown of beating Alabama in the Cardinals’ season opener Sept. 1.
According to VegasInsiders.com, the point spread for the game, which will be played in Orlando, Fla., opened at 20 on May 21. At 3 p.m. Tuesday the number was Nick Saban’s defending national champions by 25 1/2.
No surprise that one thing Petrino said Tuesday was that for the next 2 1/2 months, he and his assistant coaches must coach the U of L players on believing they can win the game.
That was one of Five Takeaways from Petrino’s media session at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
QUESTION: You’ve played quality opponents early in the season before but how do you prepare for Alabama?
PETRINO: “I think the biggest thing for us in the first game is taking care of the ball and being able to move the ball ...
“We’ve got to approach it like it’s no different than those (high-powered openers). The number one thing that we’ve got to be able to do is work hard enough and believe in each other so that we take the field truly believing we’re going win the game.
“I’ve seen that when we’ve played (Alabama) when I was at Arkansas. We wanted to believe one year that we were going to beat them. But when you don’t believe it, truly believe it, you drop the pass that you normally caught.
“You slip and fall. You don’t throw the ball on the exact curl route you practiced every day in practice. All of a sudden now it’s either short or long.
“We’ve had years where we really believed it and came out and executed. We were right there in a position to win the game. That’s the thing that we’ve got to get our players to understand.
“We don’t have to do anything extra-ordinary to beat them. We’ve just got to play football the way it’s supposed to be played and truly believe we can win the game.
“I correlate it a little bit to the first time we went down to Miami and played them in the Orange Bowl (in 2004. a game U of L lost, 41-38). That team took the field believing they were going to win the game. Played aggressive. Played hard the entire game.”
QUESTION: The predictions for your team in the pre-season magazines are not as robust as they have been in recent seasons. Do you look at the pre-season picks?
PETRINO: “I don’t, but I’m sure our players do. They probably see everything.
“I’ve always believed that pre-season rankings are based on how you finished the season and who you’ve got coming back. But if you kept track of the pre-season rankings and how things played out, it would probably be a lot different.”
QUESTION: How have the freshmen running backs performed since arriving on campus?
PETRINO: “The guys we have in — Hassan Hall and Javian Hawkins — are both really fast. It’s great to watch them in our quickness and speed drills to see how fast they are.
“They wanted to line up and race. Obviously we shut that down right away. We don’t need anybody pulling a hamstring to see who the fastest guy is.
“But they have the type of speed that should make a difference for us. Guys who can take it all the way.
“Hassan also has great size (he was listed at 5 feet 11, 190 pounds in high school). His junior year he played a lot of running back and carried the ball a bunch. His senior year he started also at safety.
“Our defensive coaches want him over on defense, too, so he’s also got great toughness. I’m looking forward to see how he works into the rotation and how he gets going.
“Javian’s a little smaller (5-9, 185) and needs to gain weight to pass protect. That’s basically the thing for him, to be able to get stronger and gain weight to pass protect.”
QUESTION: Injury updates?
Petrino said that receivers Jaylen Smith, Keion Wakefield and Devante Peete, running back Colin Wilson, defensive lineman Jared Goldwire and linebacker P.J. Blue were “full go.”
PETRINO: “Dae Williams (a running back returning from a knee injury) is working hard. He’s not exactly full go yet. We’re optimistic he’ll ready to go prior to opening up camp.
“I think that’s the big key that it's prior to, so he goes through the aches and pains before we start practice.”
QUESTION: There was report Monday that the crowded bowl schedule will grow by three in 2020 with games being added in Chicago, Myrtle Beach, S.C. and possibly Tempe, Ariz.
Are you in favor of more bowl games?
PETRINO: “Where at?”
The ACC would be matched against the Big Ten in Chicago.
PETRINO: “ACC in Chicago?”
PETRINO: “Oh wow. It kind of just is what it is. It’s different than the old days but so is everything else. You’ve got cell phones, stupid text messages. I mean everything is different. Why shouldn’t the bowl games be any different?”
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