Bobby Petrino is set to begin his third season in his second stint at UofL. Sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson is coming off of an electrifying performance in the Music City Bowl, rushing and passing for over 200 yards. Petrino is 58-18 in six seasons as the Cards head coach, trailing only Frank Camp (118-95-2) on the all-time wins list. UofL kicks off the 2016 season on Thursday, September 1, hosting Charlotte at 7 p.m.
Last year at this time, there was no depth chart, you didnâ€™t know who your quarterback was going to be and then Lamar comes in and he plays a little bit. And then plays more and more. When did you really see when he got into practice that you had something special in him?
It was pretty early, one of the first few practices that we had, just his ability to set his feet and snap his wrist and throw the ball and be accurate with it. I was surprised at how well his instincts were and his vision and how easy things came to him from a passing standpoint. We knew we had a dynamic runner and a guy who could really turn it on when he tucked the ball away, but to see things downfield and have the ability to throw the ball before somebodyâ€™s open and throw him open was something that he showed he could do early.
How much better did he get as a quarterback as the season went on?
He was able to improve a lot and particularly in between the end of the season and the bowl game. It seemed like the game slowed down and he didnâ€™t press as much. He let things come to him and made better decisions, and ultimately, as a quarterback, you have to make good decisions.
Can he be an accurate passer?
Oh, he is an accurate passer. Yeah, heâ€™s proved that over spring ball, throughout the offseason, that he gets his feet in the right position. Heâ€™s gonna be on time, and heâ€™s able to put the ball where he wants to. Weâ€™ve just got to give them opportunities and get the guys around him to do their job so he plays well.
What can he allow you to do with an offense that maybe you havenâ€™t been able to do?
Weâ€™re about to see. You know, obviously in the last couple games of the year, he did a great job of executing the zone read offense and tucking the ball and making plays with his legs. He also showed that he can throw the deep ball, and thatâ€™s what we really felt like in spring â€“ all right, weâ€™ve got our deep passing game back. We got the ability to play action pass and throw the ball down the field and receivers who can run and get it. Youâ€™re a much more explosive team when you can throw the ball deep down the field.
What does the ACC Network mean for UofL?
I think itâ€™s awesome. I think itâ€™s going to help all of our sports here at the University and give everyone more exposure. Get in more houses for recruiting. Obviously, itâ€™ll be great for our finances, being able to generate revenue for all the teams in the ACC.
Did the league need a network to compete with the SEC and the Big Ten?
I think so. Iâ€™m surprised it wasnâ€™t already up and going. Just the exposure and the recruiting helps.
Where do you stand on the possibility of playing nine league games?
Right now, weâ€™re playing eight, and I think itâ€™s a good thing because its balanced on how many games you have on the road and how many games youâ€™ve got at home. Once you change to that nine, you wouldnâ€™t want a five-home-game or four-home-game schedule affect who the ultimate champion is.
Reggie Bonnafon is now listed as a starting wide receiver. Is he a guy you feel like you just need to get on the field?
I brought Lonnie Galloway in here as our co-offensive coordinator and wide receiver coach, and from day one, he was campaigning to get Reggie full-time. After a couple weeks in spring ball, we decided to do that. It allows him to really develop the skills on a daily basis. Heâ€™s probably 10 pounds lighter right now than he was last year at this time. So heâ€™ll have the ability to run down the field more and be in better condition.
What does it say about him, the way he has handled everything heâ€™s been through at UofL?
Heâ€™s just an unbelievable young man. In this day and age, itâ€™s rare. Reggie is a true team player. He cares about the guys on our team.
Is it fair to say that you have less questions about the offensive line than you did the last two seasons?
Yeah, a little bit because there were a few guys that we hadnâ€™t even seen practice last year. Itâ€™s a group that has experience. Theyâ€™re stronger. Theyâ€™re faster. Iâ€™m looking forward to seeing how we can put it all together and get the consistency that you need in running the ball and protecting the quarterback. VT