University of Louisville Head Football Coach Bobby Petrino discussed the developement of his team at his Monday afternoon press conference. This week Petrino previewed Murray State and reflected on the previous game vs. Kent State.


Opening Statement

COACH PETRINO: “I thought we got a lot of good things done this past weekend. No. 1 was in recruiting – we took Friday and all of our coaches went out in state and went to high school games. I thought that was very beneficial for us, something we’ll do again this Friday, and something that you always try to do. When we went to North Carolina, that Friday night, we had some coaches go out and see some student-athletes and work on recruiting there. So, that worked out good.

“As far as the game went, I was really happy with the way our defense played. It’s fun to watch the video. They were very physical. They ran full speed to the ball. They did a good job on assignments—that offense always challenges you to do your assignments, and they did a good job with that. And they prepared and put it all in in four days of practice, which was good to see, and something we spent any time working on, with that type of offense. They learn quick. (Freshman linebacker) Dorian (Etheridge) had a really good game for us, was running around. He was very physical, very tough. We got a lot of young guys in and used a lot of defensive linemen. I also thought (sophomore defensive lineman) G.G. (Robinson) had one of his best games. I was really excited to see how physical he played. So, it was a good deal for them.

“Offensively, we got the ball in a lot of different guys’ hands. (Junior quarterback) Lamar (Jackson) threw the ball for a very high percentage. Didn’t like the fact that we had the interceptions: one of them, certainly wasn’t his fault, it went right through the receiver’s hands. But, the other one was a bad decision—bad throw, really. Decision was right, just wasn’t a good throw. But, I thought he played well. I thought he executed. It’s frustrating when you sit there and you don’t have the ball very many plays. I think, in the first half, we had 31 plays, ended up with 57 for the game, so it was a really slowed down pace that they played. I thought our guys did a good job keeping their poise—what it did do was take reps away from our younger guys on offense. But, when (redshirt freshman quarterback) Jawon (Pass) came in, he did a nice job. He really showed he can throw the ball. I was really happy with his confidence and the fact that when he saw something, he believed it and made a couple checks out there—did a good job distributing the football, getting it in the right places. I thought (freshman running back) Colin Wilson did a nice job running with the ball and being physical. He also showed that he can catch it. I think that’s one of the things that really shows up in our offense more this year than in the past few years is our ability to throw the ball to our running backs. (Senior running back) Malik (Williams) gets catches, (senior running back) Reggie (Bonnafon) gets catches, Colin comes in and get catches, and it also shows the patience at quarterback to check the ball down. So, that was good to see.

“After the game, we had a lot of fun in the locker room with the Cancer Alliance kids. I was really proud of our players. They all had a good time doing it and took some of their own personal time. Put smiles on young guys’ faces, so that was really exciting to see. Meant a lot to our players. They always enjoy doing that, and I thought it was great for our program, so that was very good.”

(On how nonconference stretch will benefit team in return to ACC play)
COACH PETRINO: “The practice really has to help us: how hard we’re practicing, how physical we’re practicing, our timing. We have to have a really good week of practice this week. With the short week next week to play on Thursday night, I think it’s really important that this is a great week of practice. I thought last week was really beneficial to us in the practice because it was also very, very hot. I’m very proud of our training staff coming to us, early in the week, saying ‘Hey, we need to get back to camp mode. We’ve got to start hydrating right,’ and we put a really good plan together for our players. We didn’t have anybody cramp up during the game the other day, weren’t any IVs, so that was very impressive. (Director of sports medicine) Kyle Johnston did a great job. I thought that will help us, that will pay off, that we had hot temperatures and had to play in it.”

(On upcoming opponent NC State and ACC)
COACH PETRINO: “It’s competitive. NC State’s been very good. We’ve had some great battles with them. Last year, we got ahead of them early, and that helped us. But, it’s all the same guys. You watch them play, it’s all the same guys we’ve been playing. All the same defensive line. All the same linebackers. So, they’re a very good football team.”

(On what stood out about G.G. Robinson’s performance)
COACH PETRINO: “I think he’s doing a nice job of using his hands and shooting his hips. He was more physical than some of their O-linemen, so that helped him too. He’s playing at a higher tempo and a faster face, and that’s something that you learn to do. As a young guy, you learn how to play faster and get to your technique quicker than the guys that are trying to block you.”

(On playing freshman cornerback Russ Yeast and his performance against Kent State)
COACH PETRINO: “He did a good job, but he wasn’t challenged. They didn’t really throw the ball. When they did throw the ball, we had really good coverage. One thing about Russ is that he’s a good defender, but he’s also very tough and a good tackler. I think we’ll get more looks this week when they come out, and the passing game that they run will challenge our secondary more.”

(On his assessment of Yeast’s punt returns against Kent State)
COACH PETRINO: “Yeah, the learning of the punt returners. I thought he did a really nice job on that return. I think he had a 13-yard return. He had a really close chance to breaking it. The second one he got lost. When you’re lined up there, you should line up on the 10-yard line, heels on the 10, don’t back up is what you’re taught. His inexperience showed up there. He just didn’t know where he was at on the field. That’s something that I think has really been hurting us, something that I’m not very happy with is our punt return team. Obviously, we’ve lost (junior cornerback/returner) Jaire (Alexander), but when you look at the Clemson game, the field position is what really killed us. Starting inside the 10 as many times as we have – this might be the record in any season I’ve had with that many times in four games.”

(On whether he is surprised about freshman linebacker Dorian Etheridge’s quick progression)
COACH PETRINO: “I think he’s surprised about it. I was telling someone the other day that he’s still surprised that he’s playing this much, but not really. When you watched him in high school, he was really a good football player, and then when we visited him at the high school he was very mature. He had to travel a long way every day to go to school and back home, and the hours were really hard. He showed his maturity and his drive to be a really good player. He just has great instincts and feel for the game, and he’s smart. He’s able to learn in the classroom and carry it over to the field, which sometimes for newcomers and freshmen that is hard to do, but he’s very, very intelligent as far as a football player goes.”

(On the tension and protests over the national anthem and the discussions he’s had with his players on the topic)
COACH PETRINO: “We’re not out on the field during the national anthem, so we wouldn’t have that issue come up, but yes I have. I talked to our players last night about it. It’s certainly something that’s in our sport and is a national story. So, what I told them was that I would always stand for the national anthem because when I think of the national anthem, I’m picturing us beating the Redcoats, winning World War I. I was fortunate enough to go over and coach the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, so I picture being there and being at Pearl Harbor, when the Japanese attacked. So, everything that I picture when it comes to the national anthem is about somebody out there fighting for us and allowing me to have the freedom to be a football coach. I also told them that the greatest thing about the United States of America is that you have the freedom of choice. So, if your decision is to kneel, that’s your decision. The NFL players that are out there kneeling, they’re doing it because No. 1, Colin Kaepernick; and, No. 2, because the president said don’t do it. We all know that once you tell a young guy not to do something, they’re going to do it more. So, he needs to learn the psychology. Tell them to kneel and they wouldn’t. I just wanted our players to be aware of it. I also get upset that our president is out there tweeting because I think he’s in a position where he could really help our country and do a lot of good things. There’s a lot more things more important than tweeting about football and basketball and those things. I just wanted our players to understand my point of view. Then, I also read them some comments from some of the NFL players and (Pittsburgh Steelers) coach (Mike) Tomlin and why he chose to keep the Steelers in the locker room because that’s really true, a lot of the things he said about some people not being lucky enough to be a football player and to be able to have relationships and be a family with young men who are from different races, different religions, different ethnicities. It’s like all of us come all together and become a family, and now we experience everything, but not everyone gets to do that. I thought our players needed to hear it, needed to understand what my thoughts were, and then they needed to spend some time thinking about it and understanding where we are right now with our culture. If it wasn’t involved with football, I wouldn’t have brought it up to them, but because they play this sport and this a big deal nationally, I thought that I should speak to them about it.”

(On Louisville being on the field during the national anthem at away games)
COACH PETRINO: “The only team that I know that plays the national anthem at their home games is Pittsburgh, and then when you travel there, you have the choice whether you want to be out there for it or stay in the locker room like you usually do. If you go out, it’s like seven minutes before kickoff and you’re in the sun standing around for a long time. I think they took they took it out of college, because they used to do it in college football. I think TV took it off so they could go to breaks instead of watching you play the national anthem.”

(On if players spoke up about what they believe)
COACH PETRINO: “I think that certainly that’s not what they think of. Everyone thinks of something different. I just wanted them to know what I pictured. I can remember in high school basketball when they played the national anthem you pictured yourself being a NFL or NBA player because you got to stand during the national anthem, that’s how it was. I think you have to respect that in the United States of America you have a choice. If you choose to kneel during it, that’s your choice.”

(On if he’s given any thought about having the team on the field this week for the national anthem)
COACH PETRINO: “I haven’t given it any thought, no.”

(On if he is surprised about so many young guys out on the field)
COACH PETRINO: “Not really because of how its changed. They get to come here in the summer and they work out with our guys. They spend two months here and they get into their comfort zone. When we used to bring them in three days before the veterans got here you got to coach them up for three days and then basically when they got here you put them aside and said, ‘We’ll see you in winter’. You didn’t have many freshman play, but now because they are here and training they get used to it and they are in much better condition, they are able to do it. Colin Wilson is a guy who was not here all summer. He is very talented and is going to be a really good player. He’s not in the best shape right now and I think we saw that out there in the game the other day, but he can really play. I’ve been excited about how well he’s picked things up and how he has learned quick.”

(On the process of the concussion protocol)
COACH PETRINO: “It’s a whole standard thing that you have to go through. How many days you’re without symptoms, then a workout and symptomless, then no contact with no symptoms, and then there’s also a test thrown in there that you have to do well at. To be honest with you, I don’t know everything about it. Basically, as a coach, it’s out of my hands and it’s into the trainer and the doctor’s hands. Whatever they say goes.”

(On if he has received a report on any of the injured players)
COACH PETRINO: “No, I usually meet with Kyle (Johnston) after this.”

(On if he will be more cautious with injured players this week with a short turnaround)
COACH PETRINO: “I think what you do is try to get them prepared to play this week. I think that’s the thing you always work hard to do is get them prepared to play the game you’re going to play and see where you’re at. Again, a lot of that is decided by the training staff and the doctors.”

(On his reaction to NC State upsetting Florida State)
COACH PETRINO: “It doesn’t really surprise me. NC State is really good, they’re a good football team. Florida State is playing with a true freshman quarterback which is always a challenge. I knew it would probably be a close game.”

(On C.J. Avery’s performance)
COACH PETRINO: “I thought he did good and I thought he learned a lot as the game went on. He came to the sideline one time and I talked to him about going and sprinting full speed. He was cruising a little and then you saw him do that and make tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He’s a really physical player, he’s tough and we got him in some positions where he could go inside out to the football and make tackles. I was really happy with the way that he played. He’ll continue to get a lot of reps for us.”

(On if Stacy Thomas will be back this week)
COACH PETRINO: “Yeah, he’ll be back.”

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