GREENSBORO, N.C. — Louisville coach Bobby Petrino spoke with reporters on Day 2 of the ACC Kickoff. Here are a few nuggets we learned about the Cardinals today.
•Louisville’s move to the ACC is already changing the way the Cardinals train. This offseason, the Cardinals have placed an extra emphasis on conditioning and building depth. Why is that? Because Petrino expects to be in more tight games late in the fourth quarter. “At times in Conference USA and the Big East, you step on the field once, twice, maybe three times a year, and you have better players than the guys you’re going against. If you just don’t screw it up, you win,” Petrino said. “Now, those days are over with. Every team is going to have good players, every team is going to be well-coached, and you need to find ways to win games in the fourth quarter.”
•One of Petrino’s biggest concerns heading into this season is the safety position. The Cardinals lost Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith, who had started 30-plus consecutive games together, off of last year’s team. That leaves junior Gerod Holliman and sophomore Jarrod Barnes to help fill that void in the secondary. Petrino also said while he is confident that Will Gardner will step in and perform well, it’s always a concern when a new quarterback takes over the offense.
•Throughout spring, Petrino was impressed with Gardner’s arm and athletic ability. “He can make all the throws, and he surprised us all on testing day,” Petrino said, citing the quarterback’s 4.6 40-yard dash. “But he has had some injury history, so that’s probably the thing that scares you the most.” Petrino tabbed Gardner’s accuracy and footwork as two areas that still need improvement.
•When Bobby Petrino took the head coaching job at Western Kentucky last season, it was more than a rehab stop after his career at Arkansas was cut short due to a scandalous affair. It was a way to get back to his roots at Louisville, where he coached from 2003-06 and took the Cardinals to an Orange Bowl. “When we decided to go to Western Kentucky as a family, one of the reasons we went there was to get back closer to Louisville,” Petrino said. “I have a daughter and a son going to school at the University of Louisville, and that’s where our kids consider home to be.” When rumors started swirling that Charlie Strong was considering leaving Louisville, Petrino told WKU athletic director Todd Stewart that he would be interested in pursuing that job. Stewart was supportive of Petrino seizing the opportunity to make his return.
•Petrino was particularly excited about the potential of true freshman Javonte Bagley, a two-star wide receiver. He said that Bagley has the potential to be a “special, special player,” although he might end up taking a redshirt this season. He also mentioned offensive lineman Kelby Johnson and running back L.J. Scott as two other freshmen who could make significant contributions this season.
•Louisville’s official depth chart lists Dominique Brown as the first-string running back, with Scott second and Michael Dyer third. But Petrino said we shouldn’t look much into the depth chart all. In reality, he thinks all three will be used heavily in different formations and situations.
•Senior Terell Floyd has been working at both safety and cornerback this offseason. While the Cardinals need help at safety, Petrino is hesitant to move him from cornerback and lose his ability on the edge.