We are now joined by Louisville head coach, Bobby Petrino. Coach, if you could please give us an opening statement, then we’ll take questions.
BOBBY PETRINO: We’re looking forward to traveling up to Virginia, playing a team that’s playing very well right now. They’re going to challenge our defense as far as our assignments and speed with their option game, the things they’ve been doing with their new quarterback. That will be a great challenge for us.
Then offensively, we need to execute and get our offense cranked up, going the way we need to. They play really good defense. They’ve got big interior guys, experienced secondary guys. We’re just looking forward to the trip and the challenge.
Q. Mekhi Becton, his development. He played right away for you. What kind of strides has he made with the experience under his belt?
BOBBY PETRINO: Mekhi is a really special young man. First and foremost, he’s as big of a guy as I’ve been around. He’s 6’8″, 355 pounds, but has not any fat on him. He’s a great athlete, can really bend and move. He’s going to be a dominant player before it’s all said and done.
He’s come in, when he came here as a freshman, with the mindset that I’m going to play right away, the competitive spirit to do that. He’s a really, really competitive young man. One of the most impressive things with him is when we were recruiting him, seeing him do a reverse dunk. He’s not only big, but he’s a great athlete, a really good kid.
Q. A basketball game?
BOBBY PETRINO: At a basketball game, yeah. He scored a lot of points playing basketball in high school. Just a really good athlete. Yeah, he did a reverse dunk in a game that we had coaches at.
Q. Was that as pleasant a surprise on signing day, when he committed, I know there was a lot of talk he might be leaning towards UVA?
BOBBY PETRINO: We were waiting the whole day to see if it was going to happen. He always told us it was. But then when you get to signing day, there’s always rumors flying out there, what is he wearing at school, things like that. You never know.
We were sure happy to get him. He’s done an excellent job here.
Q. You mentioned in your opening statement about Virginia’s read option game. How much does a defense have to account for Perkins at the start in trying to slow it down?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah, the thing about that game is you have to account for everybody. That’s the discipline that you have to have with your eyes and your assignments. It just challenges your discipline on defense.
Then the ability to run full speed to the ball. If you do make a mistake, don’t account for somebody, then everybody has to sprint to the ball so you don’t give up big plays.
Q. Is that what Malik brings to your offense, a primary reason that you decided to start him?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah, I mean, the main reason we’re starting him is because of the success he’s had when he’s come in. 12 starting possessions, eight scoring possessions. He’s really been able to generate enthusiasm and play-making ability.
But, yeah, he’s pretty good at the option game himself.
Q. If Dee and Dorian are practicing, their status for Saturday how do you game plan your defense around them?
BOBBY PETRINO: They were both out on the practice field yesterday. We’re just continuing to rehab and work, hopefully have them both on Saturday.
Q. About Virginia, talk about their offense, also their defense.
BOBBY PETRINO: They’re a very good football team. They’re playing really well right now. They’ve been able to score a lot of points with their offense. Like I said earlier, they’re challenging you to stop their option game. They have great speed and guys that can make plays. That’s the thing that shows up right off the bat. Their offensive line is doing a good job for them.
Defensively they’re really firm up front. They have experience at the linebacker and guys in the secondary. A lot of the same guys we played against last year. It’s going to be up to us to be able to control the football and block the line of scrimmage. I think that’s going to be the most important thing for our offense.
Q. Talk about coaching against Coach Mendenhall. What does he bring to a game that you might see this year that you didn’t see last year? Does he switch things up?
BOBBY PETRINO: Oh, yeah, he’s always got something new for you. Excellent coach. His players are disciplined, well-coached, understand what they’re doing. They force you to go out and beat them.
Q. This week the ACC and the CFP are celebrating Extra Yard for Teachers. Could you give us an idea what role teachers played in your life or impacted your life.
BOBBY PETRINO: My father is a teacher and a coach. I’ve got three sisters that are teachers. Myself, have a degree to be able to teach, grew up thinking that’s what I would end up doing.
I remember almost every teacher that I’ve ever had. The guidance and enthusiasm, discipline that they teach certainly affects everybody’s life. I’m very fortunate that I had great teachers in my life when I was growing up. I’ve always admired my sisters, how hard they work, everything they put in to their students.
Q. Was the Western Kentucky game a wake-up call for you in any sense or was it mostly positive?
BOBBY PETRINO: In the second half, there were a lot of good, positive things. We didn’t come out really prepared in the first half offensively. Weren’t able to move the ball. I thought our defense played well in the second half as far as not allowing points, making plays in critical points. We did a really nice job in special teams, and that really helped us win the game.
We need to get our offense going, be consistent, particularly early in the game.