Coach Bobby Petrino sat down for his weekly press conference today after the #10 Cards’ record 62-28 victory over Syracuse and before their top ten matchup against #2 Florida State this Saturday.
Petrino said the team did well against Syracuse, saying the offense was “explosive” and the defense made a lot of stops.
He did say that the team had to work on things in all areas of the game. The defense gave up some plays and missed some tackles. The offense needs to work on holding on to the ball and not fumbling or turning it over, and special teams needs to block better to enable bigger punt and kick returns.
Petrino said FSU is a good, well-coached team. He said redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois is a very talented quarterback with a strong arm and quick release and Louisville defensive backs need to focus on their assignments and not worry too much about his mobility. He said the Cards have to stop the run, making sure they tackle star junior running back Dalvin Cook who Petrino called “the fastest player we’ll face this year.”
He said the team is excited for ESPN’s College Gameday to be at the game on Saturday. He called it a “great thing for the city, university and program,” but team worked hard to get here and is preparing like normal. Petrino thinks the crowd will be awesome and help the team out.
In order to get a win against FSU, Petrino said the team “doesn’t have to do something extraordinary, just play good solid Louisville Cardinal football.” He talked about how where the team wants to be in the conference and the nation and that they’re getting closer to those goals, saying that in order to get where they wanted to be they need to beat FSU.
Petrino had more praise for sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson. Coach said he was excited about how good Jackson is throwing and how they’ve been able to get the deep ball pack in the offense. He said Lamar also has a lot better footwork, which he really worked on over the Summer.
Petrino is also impressed with the Louisville passing game and how many receivers and backs are catching balls. He said that they aren’t forcing things, taking what the defense gives them, and working defensive matchups. But he realizes that the Cards “won’t be as open as they were the last few weeks.”
Coach was also critical of the Louisville receivers against Syracuse. The players fumbled the ball, dropped passes, and made other mistakes. He said wideouts need to work on concentration and not look to run before they make the catch.
Petrino said the Cards need to finish the game, as last year’s matchup saw the Seminoles dominate in the second half. He said that the second half last year was “not Card football”, but it helped to improve the defense at the end of last season.
Coach also complimented the run game. He said the offensive line had improved and that everyone was working to open and utilize holes in the defense and working with Lamar Jackson on run fakes and option plays.
Petrino reacted to the news that FSU safety Derwin James won’t play due to torn cartilage in his knee. Petrino called him one of the best defensive backs in the country, said it would change some things on offense.
Petrino said the targeting call on sophomore safety Dee Smith at Syracuse was the “right call,” but said there was no intent to harm and the calls are always the hardest to make. By NCAA rule, Smith will have to miss the first half against FSU.<