COACH PETRINO: We’re coming off a tough loss at Auburn where we kind of gave some opportunities away in the first half where we could have got points on the board offensively, then gave them seven points. I thought overall defensively, we played well with the exception of the first series of the third quarter. Offensively we got a spark in the second half with Lamar Jackson coming in as quarterback, our young receivers making some big plays for us.
I’m excited about the week. I think our players are doing a good job preparing for us. We play a very good Houston team here at home.
Question: Talk about Jamari Staples, wide receiver. What kind of player do you have with him and how is he coming along? Talk about how you landed him from UAB when UAB canceled their football program.
COACH PETRINO: Jamari I think is going to be a really good player for us. He’s been a little bit banged up, so we’re anxious to get him back. He had a great camp. He was working as a starter for us. Both myself and Garrick McGee recruited him out of high school. He played for Garrick on offense at UAB. We think he has a great future for us.
Question: Were you surprised UAB canceled football?
COACH PETRINO: I didn’t really know a whole lot about the situation down there.
Question: An update, if you’re expecting Jamari or James Quick possibly to play this week? Just an update on those guys.
COACH PETRINO: Jamari, I don’t know if he’ll be available. He does have a chance maybe to practice here tomorrow. Like I said the other day with James, we’re just waiting to see how he comes in, how quickly he can get back.
Question: You mentioned on Monday that Will (Gardner) had hurt his rib and he wasn’t really available last week. Had he not hurt his rib, would he have played against Auburn?
COACH PETRINO: It’s hard to speculate that. When you miss days of practice, it doesn’t come into any speculation.
Question: Is he available again at this point or…
COACH PETRINO: He practiced yesterday. He was out there throwing the ball around. Did a nice job.
Question: Wondering if you could go back in history when Houston used to be a conference rival for Louisville. What do you remember about those games and being in a conference with them?
COACH PETRINO: Oh, my gosh. I remember them having great quarterbacks. I think both quarterbacks we faced ended up being first-round draft picks. Coach Briles was the coach. We knew it was going to be a wild shootout. A lot of fun. They’re always a very talented and very fast football team, which they are this year. They have a quarterback that can really run and throw it. Wide receiver that’s a tremendous weapon for them that they line up everywhere and get him the ball as often as they can. Their linebackers and secondary are very fast.
Question: What was your evaluation of how Geron Christian did in his first start? How do you handle it when a true freshman has to start on the offensive line?
COACH PETRINO: I thought Geron did a really nice job for us. That’s probably one of the toughest positions to play. On the open edge all game long. He was going against really good football players from Auburn’s defensive front. He did a good job. He allowed us to protect the quarterback and helped us a lot in the run game.
Question: You mentioned the quarterback can run and throw pretty well. What are the biggest challenges and keys on defense when you’re facing a guy like that?
COACH PETRINO: Defensively you have to be real disciplined in your gap control and make sure you do your assignment and your job and don’t rely on your teammate to do his assignment and his job. It’s real important that we run full speed to the ball because you got to get as many people to the ball as fast as you can. Then we’ve got to do a great job of tackling. That’s the challenge always, is to do a great job of tackling with a team that really likes to run the ball.
Question: The first game here, utilizing Reggie (Bonnafon) and Lamar Jackson, what you saw about having both of them on the field, your thoughts going forward with both of their talents?
COACH PETRINO: I thought Reggie early moved the ball for us. We got the ball down on the six-yard line, hurt ourselves with a couple penalties, missed a field goal. Then we drove it down to the 19, turned it over and gave them a touchdown off the turnover. Felt like Lamar came in and really gave us a spark. The competitiveness, the competitive spirit with him and the rest of the offensive guys on the sideline the second half was really encouraging to see. They felt like they were in the game. They felt like we would find a way to win it.
Question: What kind of led to you putting out Lamar Jackson? What brought him to the point that you trusted in him?
COACH PETRINO: Just by the way he practiced, by the way he showed in practice that he could make the throws that you have to make, that he had great instincts within the pocket. Would sit in there and throw it. When he saw big holes open up, he’d take off and run. I think he has great instincts as a quarterback. Very, very strong arm. He’s an accurate passer.
Question: On the offensive line, Auburn was able to get pressure a good bit. How did Lamar’s ability to move around and make something out of those plays versus I guess Reggie took a number of sacks in the first half, how much did that play into the decision of who was going to be out there as quarterback?
COACH PETRINO: We thought going in that we were going to face a very good defensive front. One of their guys I think will be a high draft pick. They’re fast and physical. So we felt like we needed to have some movement at the quarterback position. A couple sacks Reggie took, he could have threw the ball away. A situation where they were covered, guys were covered, he held the ball too long. Then I thought Lamar’s ability to run and make plays with his legs in the second half not only opened up other things for us offensively, but tired out their defensive front a little bit.
Question: You viewed Reggie’s progress over the last year. Is that one of the key areas he still needs to be able to make some improvement on before he gets the regular snaps or somebody you have a lot of confidence in in that situation?
COACH PETRINO: I think he’s a very good football player. We’ve always continued to work on his timing, getting the ball out of his hand on time.
Question: Was there maybe a specific moment this summer in camp or a collection of a few moments where you as a staff really saw that Lamar Jackson was a guy that could help you this season?
COACH PETRINO: Yeah, I think it was pretty early in camp when we saw the ability he had to throw the football, the instincts he had in the pocket, a guy that has really good vision. He sees things. Then he has the ability to have a very quick release and get the ball out of his hands. We knew pretty early in camp we needed to try to find a way to get him ready to play and worked hard at it, having a progression for him to get in the game and play in this first game.