David Hale of ESPN.com posted a story four days ago about Reggie Bonnafon and losing his dad last season. If you haven’t read it, it’s definitely worth checking out. Hale followed that up with a question and answer piece with Bonnafon, which is also worth your time. Reggie talks about playing in front of big crowds last season, what he has done to get better, and much more. Here is a portion of that.
David Hale: What was your focus this offseason? How crucial was it to have some time to get comfortable after being thrown into the fire as a true freshman?
Reggie Bonnafon: This spring was very important to me. About a week after the season, I sat down with Coach [Garrick] McGee to start planning what we’d do this spring and how my game would evolve, what things we needed to work on in the passing game and fundamentals. For me personally, I wanted to become a more efficient passer. I knew what I could do with my legs as far as running the ball, [but I was focusing on] just making our passing game as big a threat as our running game. We’re making strides. The timing with our receivers is getting a lot better.
Hale: What was last season like for you with playing early while enduring some serious off-field problems?
Bonnafon: I grew up a lot last season. I started off the season against Murray State, [and] it was the first opportunity I got to play and had a good game. Two games later, after the Virginia game, my father passed away suddenly. That was a big blow. My teammates and coaches did a good job of keeping me positive and focused on the rest of the season. On down the road, I had the opportunity to play in some big games as well — Clemson, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Wake Forest. I was really excited to have the opportunity to be a true freshman and come in and have a little success and a little failure. The Clemson game for sure, I learned a lot. The atmosphere — I was a young kid playing before 80,000 people. My adrenaline was pumping, I was all amped up, and it did’t go as well as I planned it to. But when we went to Notre Dame, my experience at Clemson allowed me to perform well because I’d been in that atmosphere before. … As a freshman, not only was I looking at the game plan and things like that, but I was always hearing about places like Death Valley and things like that — [and] that begins to pop in your mind as well — not just defenses and schemes but the crowd noise and things like that. But I’ve been in those situations, so that’s probably the last thing on my mind. This year I’ll focus a lot more on the scheme and not get so caught up in the small things.
Hale: How much progress do you feel like you were able to make this spring?
Bonnafon: I had some highs and lows throughout the weeks that we practiced and scrimmaged. I could tell in the spring game that all the hard work — a lot of bad days of trying to work on accuracy and things like that — really paid off. Once we really got in a game-type situation, I could really tell that the game has slowed down. Since the spring game, I’ve really been working hard on technique and trying to improve on a daily basis — watching film, doing field work, footwork, anything. So once fall camp comes, I can really perform at the highest level.
Hale: What did you hear from Coach [Bobby] Petrino and Coach McGee about your progress?
Bonnafon: They were really pleased with the way I finished spring. I’m always my biggest critic, so Coach Petrino was a lot more pleased with the spring than I was with myself. But he told me that he really liked the way I competed during the spring. Really we just worked on — wanted me to emphasize fundamentals [by] just working on quick release, quicker feet. I took it upon myself to really dive in headfirst to the film room as well, trying to become a better player from the neck up. I think that really helps a quarterback at this level, so that’ really what I’ve been trying to attack and step up and be a leader of this team.