Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino and Sophomore QB Lamar Jackson
Q: Coach, I know you had to have a tough conversation with the guys. Can you bring us up to speed on where you are at?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah. We got beat by a good football team. We knew coming in that they were very good on defense and in the front seven, guys that are big and strong and physical, and they’ve got really good cover guys. I think we hurt ourselves early in the game with negative plays, either assignment errors or good pass rushes and not being able to get the ball out and throw it away. When you’re going backwards, and you get behind the sticks, it’s really hard to make first downs against them. I did think we came back in the second half and executed better and made some plays, still couldn’t get the ball in the end zone, and that really hurt us. Defensively I think we were just out on the field way too many snaps. Offense has to be able to move the ball and keep the defense on the sideline. I thought our defense competed hard, but we got worn down and worn out. They had a big run there that really hurt us. But at halftime, we felt like we got the ball. We needed to come out and score and were right in the game, and we just weren’t able to execute and get it done.
Q: Lamar, I know it’s hard not to be dejected right now, but just your thoughts on what you maybe take away from this game as you continue on with your career.
LAMAR JACKSON: Everything, just getting better with my team, getting everything down pat and perfecting my craft. There was a lot of mistakes each and every one of us made out there. It was a great team, like Coach said, and we’ve just got to come back stronger next year.
Q. For Coach Petrino, were the problems up front? Was it scheme? Was it just physical ability?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah. They’re very good on defense and we knew that coming in. We did make some assignment errors where we turned a couple guys completely loose a few times and then there were a few times that they beat us just on the pass rush and then there were a couple other times where we needed to get the ball out of our hand and get open quicker, so it all plays together. Anytime you’re getting sacked, it’s all 11 guys on the field and all us coaches, they’ve got to make sure that we don’t get sacked.
Q. Bobby, how do you think about the way the season ended now with three losses and four losses on the year given all the success you had previous to the last month of the year?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah. It’s very disappointing. We started off and we played at a very, very high level for a long time, felt like there was 11 weeks where we were in the talk of whether we were going to get into the playoffs or not get into the playoffs. Then, we didn’t finish the season the way that we should have or normally do. I think that one thing that we all need to learn from it is there’s a saying out there that says one of the greatest obstacles to being great is being good. And it’s my fault. I saw us not working and practicing and having the same intensity that we needed in the last three games. And we got to do a better job and we’re certainly going to spend a lot of time evaluating and trying to do the best we can to never see it happen again.
Q. Coach, were there any kind of common threads on those third down, lack of third down conversions? You mentioned getting behind the sticks.
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah. It’s hard to convert third and long and third and extra-long against a team like that. But they had good pass rush and tight coverage. So you don’t have a lot of room for error. And like I said, we took our turn, not getting the job done, whether it was of the protection, the throw, the drop pass, whatever it was. It was certainly an offensive effort.
Q. Just following up on his previous question, what do you think contributed to the downturn or the lack of intensity that happened at the end of the season?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah, I mean, that’s something that we need to spend a lot of time evaluating, but I think some of it is just the ability to go from being good to great and, obviously, understanding how to prepare for the game and go out and compete in the game and, like I said, that’s on me.
Q. For Lamar, the last three games you were sacked 20-some times. Do you think teams adjusted to you, or did you run into a better caliber of athlete?
LAMAR JACKSON: The defense was just being good. They were working hard. We just had to step up, and we didn’t. That’s all I have to say about that.
Q. Were you surprised at how physical the LSU defense was and the lack of time that you had? What do you think? Why were they so effective today?
LAMAR JACKSON: They were bringing a lot of — linebackers getting to me and stuff like that. LSU had great defensive schemes and stuff like that, so I couldn’t really tell you about that, yeah.
Q. For Bobby and Lamar, this bowl is obviously a lot different than what happened last year. How do you feel that will impact what happened last year as you prepare?
BOBBY PETRINO: I hope it motivates us. I know we have a lot of guys coming back, guys that are great competitors and talented and believe in the University of Louisville and what we’re doing. So I think it’ll motivate us. It’ll pull us together, and we’ll have guys step up and lead and go have a great off-season. The first part of it will be about getting bigger and stronger and faster, and then we roll into spring ball. It’ll be executing our offense and defense, and then you change again back to the summertime. These guys are great competitors, and they believe in each other. We’re going to miss our senior class. Those guys did a great job for us and we feel like we’re losing part of our family, but I know we’ll be back and come back and play like we know how to.
Q. Coach and Lamar, how do you two, kind of working together, go forward and improve as a tandem seeing that the quarterback is an extension of yourself?
LAMAR JACKSON: He’s my coach, right here, so I have to listen to him and do what he tells me to do, just being a better player. You’ve got to be coachable. That’s all.
Q. Coach, what will you tell your seniors or what have you said to your seniors in the locker room now that this season is finally over and, as you said, part of your family, you’re starting to lose part of your family?
BOBBY PETRINO: I told them that we’re certainly going to miss them. We’re very proud of that class. They’ve done a lot to put their mark on the University of Louisville football team. They’re welcome back anytime. Most of them have their degree in their pocket and they’ll go out and attack life and whether that’s continuing to play this game or another career. And the guys that don’t have it, we need to make sure are back and getting it here this spring. But they’re a big part of our family and like I said, there’s some great competitors, some great leaders there and they have Cardinal pride.
Q. Lamar, how frustrating was it out there for you today not being able to do a lot of things you’re used to doing?
LAMAR JACKSON: I didn’t get frustrated. I just tried to keep going the game, it’s a long game, whether you’re playing a 30-minute game or whatever and you got to go out there and attack and I just feel we didn’t really attack how we should. We’re a great team and people can say what they want to say, but I feel we just didn’t play how we used to play. That’s all.
Q. Bobby, did — I had two questions, I guess. The one was, can you talk about the effect of the injuries that you had with Josh [Harvey-Clemons] and True [Washington] and especially back in the secondary and the backups for some of those guys as well? And then the other part was, did you have any guys, underclass man, that’s has been offered NFL information this year?
BOBBY PETRINO: Those are some good players that weren’t able to come out and play for us today. We really felt like Josh was going to be back and was doing good and the second practice that we were down here. He tweaked his hamstring again and wasn’t able to get ready for the game. Obviously, we miss him. He’s been a big part of our defense all year long and allows you a lot of flexibility because he can do a number of things. I do think that the young guys who came in, played and competed hard, and it’s going to help us. The experience that they got, not only playing in the game today, but preparing for the game. What was the second part? Oh, I know that James Hearns sent his information in and I didn’t get any report back yet.
Q. Bobby, we saw some things with Louisville we didn’t seen before and that level of national attention and, you know, Lamar’s all that he did. How much of that as a coach was different to deal with these guy and did that play into some of the intensity things in practice and other things you mentioned?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah. I think we really had it rolling there the first part of the season, the middle of the season. I listened to Urban Meyer talk about his team and how, in the middle of the year, they kind of hit the wall a little bit, and then they were able to come back and finish strong. We went right through the middle of the season well, but I kind of feel like we hit the wall there towards the end. We had a tough schedule where we had a Saturday night game and then a Thursday game on the road. For the record, nobody should have to do that. They should outlaw that, the conferences. We got out of the — into the locker room I think it was 10:45 p.m. on Saturday night and had to travel and play the next Thursday night, so some of that being fatigued and tired, but also being able to handle success. You’ve got to learn how to handle success. You’ve got to learn how to keep going, even when you’re tired. You prepare hard and do things right. We talk about that to our players all the time. 6:00 a.m. in the morning, the alarm goes off, I don’t feel good. I’m still going to get up and go to work and to a great job at work so I could feed my family.
Q. Coach, what kind of challenge are you facing moving forward, replacing the three starters on the offensive line given their struggles late in the season?
BOBBY PETRINO: We’ve got to do a good job in recruiting, and we’ve got some young guys that red-shirted and I thought improved over the course of bowl preparation. We’re going to have to have a great spring. We’re going to have to do a good job of making sure guys are in the right position and getting that group together. It’s always a challenge. It’s something that’s very, very important to be able to have a good offensive front, so we’ll work hard at it.
Q. You mentioned yesterday about how important this game was because of all the Florida guys you have on your roster and how much you recruit here. Does this outcome impact that at all, or do you feel like it was a lost opportunity?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah, I always feel like it’s a lost opportunity. You’re on a national stage, and you go out playing a great football team, and you want to compete and win the game, and that helps everything. I do feel like we’re having a great recruiting class, and I think that this shouldn’t affect that at all. I think that we’ve had those guys on campus so many times, and they believe in what we’re doing, that it should help us. I hate coming down here with all our Florida players and not winning the game with all the guys that are on our team right now. That’s what you’re most disappointed in. We’ve got a bunch of great guys on our team, and their families in the stands, they get to come and watch them all, and we were not able to get the victory.