It was a statement heard loud and clear by the college football world. UofL is a contender. On a day when the Cards took the field with Muhammad Ali screaming from the jumbotron, they dismantled No. 2 Florida State in every phase of the game. The end result was a 63-20 UofL win – the most points ever given up by the Seminoles. Cards sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson continued his amazing start. He rushed for 146 yards and four touchdowns and threw for 216 and another score. Senior running back Brandon Radcliff rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown, and sophomore defensive back Jaire Alexander amassed 130 yards in punt returns, including a 69-yard third quarter touchdown. All that in front of a national TV audience with ESPN’s “College GameDay” in the building. Here is a sampling of the post-game reaction from what was the biggest regular season win in UofL history.
Lamar got so much attention this week and there was so much hype. What did he show you?
Bobby Petrino: I’m just proud of how he prepared for the game. How he was able to stay calm. He’s got tremendous confidence. He’s a great competitor and he really prepared for the game. Obviously, you get nervous because he’s so young and you’ve got all these things going around and more interviews than he should have to do, but we do them anyway. He was able to focus, concentrate and just be a tremendous leader by the way he plays the game.
In the process of building what you’re building here, how important was it to get a win over Florida State, one of the two big powers in this division?
Petrino: It’s a good win for us. We look at the start of the season and we know that everything has to go through Florida State and Clemson, besides everybody else has really good players, and you have to play those games and win too. That’s the beauty of being in this conference is everybody we play is going to have really good players and be very well coached. So you have to come to play each and every week. It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it. Again I can’t tell you how proud I am of our players and our assistant coaches. Our assistant coaches have been working on this game for a long time – since last winter – and I think their hard work and dedication really showed up.
Lamar said right after the game that he would give himself a D. After watching the tape, what would you give him?
Petrino: I wouldn’t want him to be my teacher, that’s for sure. We all know he wasn’t a D. He’s a great player and he made huge plays in that game to allow us to win the game. He’s being a little bit hard on himself, probably being a little bit funny too. He knows he wasn’t a D.
As scary as it is, doesn’t he still have plenty of room to improve?
Petrino: Oh, certainly. He’s upset that he missed two throws in the first quarter. One would have been a touchdown, another one would have been a third down conversion. The timing was just off a little bit. The first one he probably didn’t close his shoulder as much as he needs to, so the ball was a little out in front. Then the third down conversion to Reggie, I think he thought Reggie was going to come out of his break a little quicker at a different angle, and we just weren’t on. I know that’s the two throws he’s thinking. Then the interception – and I told him the interception is on me. I’m not very smart. We got a great turnover – we should have just ran the ball in. They put a new corner in and I wanted to go after him. He backed off and got deep, so the only place he could throw it was to the tall kid. It wasn’t his best throw of his life, but the interception was on me.
In the moment, what does this win mean for UofL football?
Brandon Radcliff: It’s a historic game for our fans, for our community. It’s a great feeling to come out here and be ready to come out here and do what we do.
Is it extra special to do it against Florida State?
Radcliff: We worked hard all summer. We told ourselves that we were going to get this game and that’s what happened, man. We came out here and we grinded for it.
Being from Florida, how will it resonate in the world of college football?
Radcliff: As soon as we got in the ACC, we had a hump to get over, and that was Florida State, Clemson, those type of teams. We were looking forward to this. We worked hard. These are the type of teams that we worked hard for because we know it’s going to be a battle. We had a lot of veterans that came and worked hard every day.
What did you see on the punt return touchdown?
Jaire Alexander: It was great blocking. I saw the hole and I hit it. A shout out to my blockers. It wouldn’t be possible without my blockers.
Does this put you on the map?
Alexander: We’re getting there – we’re not where we want to be, but we’re getting there.
How much can a great punt returner get in the head of a coach?
Petrino: I think they’ll respect the fact that he’s a great returner and that we worked hard on blocking and doing things right. We had a great game plan for what Florida State did on their punt team, which gave him room to make plays. I remember going against a great punt returner one time and we planned on kicking the ball out of bounds – we made a mistake and didn’t get it out of bounds and he ran it back for a touchdown on us. So I’ll probably never forget that one. VT