UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE FOOTBALL
COACH BOBBY PETRINO PRESS CONFERENCE – Boston College
(Oct. 8, 2018)
COACH PETRINO: “Hard video to watch. Coming in and watching it this weekend. I sat by myself, watched the video of the defense first, completely different than the way we’ve played the rest of the year. I’ve been praising the defense for their effort, for their enthusiasm, their energy, and flying around. But, we did not play that way. We played tentative. We didn’t have the guys running to the ball from the backside like you need to, to get people to the ball. For some reason, our mindset was not what it needs to be. They executed. They did the things that they need to do. But, we didn’t do the things we need to do at all. We weren’t even close. So, it was hard.
I met with the team this morning about it. First thing you have to do is face it. We had to sit down and watch the video, and defensively, what we had them do is watch the first four series of the game and then try to change it and go back and watch how we played against Florida State. It’s two completely different versions of the same people on the field. So, we tried to end the meetings with seeing what it is we want, how we want to look, not how we looked on Friday night.
Offensively, I feel like we’re making improvements, but we’re not consistent enough up front on the offensive line and making enough big plays to be in a shootout and have the ability to win – particularly, when you when you turn the ball over. Certainly, the turnovers hurt us. We’re not getting any back from our defense. So, that hurts too. I think we’ve only had four turnovers with our defense the entire year, which is as low as I can ever remember. That hurts, not getting short fields and not turning it back. But, there are some really good things you see from Puma—his execution, his decision making, his accuracy is getting better. I think his understanding of what’s going on on defense is much better, and his distributing the ball. You see some young guys making plays. I like the way (freshman wide receiver) TuTu’s (Atwell) playing. (Freshman running back) Hassan Hall, although he didn’t get enough carries, and that’s the other thing that happens when you get so far behind is the ability to run the ball the way you’d like to. But, it was good to see him get involved in the passing game, go through his protections, get to his check-downs, and we had some good third down conversions. This is two games in a row where we’ve been up at 58 percent on third down conversions, and that usually doesn’t equal the score that we had the other night.
What we’re going to do is keep working, keep going ahead. We brought the team in this morning and had meetings. Obviously, some of it’s hard. Then, we went out on the field and worked and practiced, got ahead for this next game. Boston College is always a really physical team. They run the ball. I don’t know what the status is of their running back. I know he didn’t play last week, but he’s a special, special player, so we have to be able to tackle him and get a lot of guys to the football there. And then, they always play good defense, so we have to be able to execute, make some plays down the field, and get some guys out in the open so we can utilize some speed. I thought the players reacted well when we got out on the practice field. Obviously, the meetings when you’re seeing yourself on video not do the things you’re capable of doing, or used to doing, is very difficult.”
Bobby, the University of Oklahoma made some coaching changes this week. Have you contemplated any?
“No, not at all. I don’t believe in that, to be honest with you. This is college football and that’s not something I believe in. I worked for Bruce Snyder, the old head coach at Arizona State and Cal, and one of things he always talked to the players about was that when you start the season, you decide once that this is where you want to play, this is where you want to be, and you go through your cycle. I don’t believe in that.”
How much of that tentativeness on defense could be attributed to an unusual offense?
“I think somehow, someway, we set something in our players’ mind that they cut, they block low, because we were tentative. We were getting hands down. We weren’t running. We were being tentative on the type of cut blocks that they have. Certainly, that can’t happen. There’s something that we did as a coaching staff to make our players tentative about it, and not run and go full speed to the ball as we should.”
The guys we’ve talked to, they’ve been saying all the right things. But is there any concern that you have lost any of these players or could lose some of them going forward?
“That’s always a concern, as far as who wants to continue to work hard, who wants to continue to have a positive attitude. We’re going to keep working at it. We see improvement by the offense, and defense has been the group that’s had a good attitude all year long. Offensively, we’ve had some challenges when guys don’t get as many balls as they would like—the things that always go along with it. But, I also talked to our players about making sure that we stay away from some of the things that go with losing, like class misses, tutor misses, not putting enough effort into everything else. One of the ways that you really excel as a football player is you have everything else in your life in line. You go to class, you go to your tutor sessions, you do things right off the field as far as eating, and sleeping, and studying. Then, that allows you to get on the field and play well. I’m going to make sure our players stay away from the things that go with losing games and continue to do the things that we do off the field.”
They’ve been able to get pressure two weeks in a row straight up the middle. What have you all been seeing with teams trying to scheme to get you guys to allow that?
“We’ve had some issues inside, first with the guys working together, understanding exactly what the line movements are and where my sets are, how my hands are. Then, there’s been a couple where we’ve been overpowered, and we’ve got to be able to set better, have better balance, and punch and not catch. Some of it is technique and some if it is communication. I know we only had two sacks the other night, but we had way too many pressures, way too many where we get a first down but he had to go to his left and throw the ball to the left when he would have really liked to throw the crossing route to his right that would have maybe came out the back side for a huge play. Those things affect you just as much as the sacks do. We’ve got to continue to work and shore it up.”
Obviously, there’s been a lot of public reaction to the job you’re doing. How do you react to that?
“I just work. I go to work, have a positive attitude, try to get our players to understand that we’ve got to continue to work and get better. I’ve been in this game a long time, grew up in it, it’s part of my life. I’ve been through things like this with my father and some of his seasons. I haven’t really experienced one like this, but I do feel like I’m a good football coach and I know how to win games.”
Your players defended the job you’re doing on Saturday. That obviously hasn’t been an issue, like you said, the years you’ve been here. Do you worry about that becoming a thing that weighs on your team as the season goes on?
“One thing that you worry about with our team, players in life in general, is the social media. That’s the first thing they do is pick up their phone and look and see what’s being said about me, what’s being said my teammates, what’s being said about whatever. That’s just the life that we live in right now, so they have to be able to manage it. They have to be able to not take things personal, be able to handle the criticism. That’s part of the life that we live in right now.”
How do you treat it [social media]?
“I just try to work, I just try to go forward and get ready for this game. The biggest thing that we have right now in front of us is Boston College on the road. We’ve always played well against them on the road up there, so we’ve got to go get ready for the game and prepare for it.”
Are you able to insulate yourself? Do you listen to the radio as you’re driving to work? Do you look at social media, or do you just block all that out?
“I listen to the radio on the way when I’m driving to work. There’s a country station that I listen to. There’s a – oh, I can’t think of her name – something Laura. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll station that has really good rock music. It depends on what mood I’m in, whether I go with the country or the rock, but Regular Laura I think is her name, 107.7. She always makes me laugh on my way to work in the morning.”
So, no talk radio?
“No, I don’t listen to talk radio.
You certainly don’t know for sure, but how different will Boston College be without (sophomore running back A.J.) Dillon and what have you seen from how good he’s been so far this season?
“He’s a special player. He’s a guy that is not only big and physical, but then, has the speed and can catch the ball out of the backfield and do all kinds of things. They had his breakout game against us a year ago when we’re up 21-7 and he made some huge plays and got them back ahead. We came back, we had a chance to win it at the end and didn’t get it done. He’s big, physical—he runs inside, can run outside, can take it all the way. He’s certainly something that they’re going to feed him the football if he’s ready to play.”
One of their hallmarks seems to be physicality at the line. Does that show up in the film, how physical they are offensively?
“Yeah, they’ll utilize two, three tight ends and really run the power running game with him.”
There’s obviously a number of things that you’ve mentioned that need attention on both sides of the ball. Do you view any of these things as quick fixes or do you think there is potential to turn this thing around and still have a positive season
“I think we have the potential to turn it around. We’ve actually been 2-4 before, the year we were 0-3 when Lamar (Jackson) was a freshman, and then got back on track and finished really strong. That’s what you have to picture. That’s what you have to do. But, the way to do that is to focus on one game and get ready for Boston College and find a way to win.”
Do you see that there’s ways that you can correct some of these things kind of quickly?
“Yeah, definitely. Like I said, offensively we’ve been improving, we’ve been correcting things and we’ve gotten a lot better. Particularly, at the quarterback position. He’s executed. He’s thrown the ball for the type of percentage that you would like, taking care of the ball. His decision making has been a lot better. So, there’s no question that we’re going to continue to get better.”
Do you think there’s a price to be paid for having turnover in defensive coordinators three times in a short span? Is there a learning curve that just never gets complete?
“I really feel like that Brian (VanGorder) came in, we have a whole new team on defense, a bunch of young guys. I was really worried in spring, in the learning and the curve and howeverything goes. And then, we came back in fall and I really thought they improved and made huge strides. They’ve been playing well. They’ve done some really good things as far as keeping us in games and giving us a chance to win. We’ve gotten some experience show up in tight situations when you would…at the end of the game at Florida State where you’d like to see it not show up. But, they’ve really improved until this last week, until this game. We’ve got to get it back. We’ve got to get back to where we were playing and the type of speed and effort and attitude that we were playing with.”
What’s the biggest improvement you’ve seen with (redshirt sophomore quarterback Jawon) Puma (Pass) over the last two weeks?
“I think his understanding of defenses and being able to focus and keep his eyes downfield. He made some really good things happened on third down the other night. They gave us some different looks and rotated out of it. He saw post, a snap movement. I think that’s one of the things as a quarterback, you start seeing the pre-snap alignment pre-snap. But then, at post-snap you have to understand what the safeties are doing and what the linebackers are doing. We have progression called to this side of the field and they rotate that way and he throws the ball into the boundary twice for big first downs. So, things like that really have shown up on video or show that he’s really focused and concentrating and working hard at it. I think Puma is a tough guy. He didn’t have the start to the season that he wanted. He played well against Alabama, then we had the monsoon, and then things just didn’t go well. He loses his job, comes back in and all he did was work hard and try to get focused. I kept telling him, ‘Your opportunity will come back,’ and I know he was wondering well, ‘When, when is that going to be.’ And then, when it did happen he was ready for it. So, I think that shows a lot of mental toughness at that age.”
(And putting (freshman quarterback) Jordan (Travis) in. What did you think once you watched the film of what Jordan did late in the game?)
“I thought we were going to have to get out a paper bag there for a little while because he was about hyperventilating. He ran all over the place and he could barely get off the field. He’s really got a talented arm and has some special instincts, certainly athletic enough to run and make plays. He did get really nervous and it showed that he’s a freshman, but he’s a very talented freshman. He showed his toughness, too. He stood in there and threw that touchdown pass at the end. He did get really tired…he hasn’t been out there yet. So that’s understandable, too, especially when he ran around like he did.
You like to draw on old experiences, old stories to help—last week you told the story of a long bus trip from Montana?
“No, from Ogden, Utah to Long Beach.”
So, you like to draw on those extremes, but you also said earlier that you’re not sure that you had a season start the way this one has. How will you react to that as it goes up?
“Well, when you think back on the 0-3 season, what you do is you just work on getting better each day in practice and focus on that. We’ve got to keep these guys from getting down. We’ve got to stay positive, pull together. I think we’ve had some young men that are working hard at that and the leadership is getting better and tougher. But, this is also part of their learning experience and their growing up and their maturity and something that we got to do it right, so that we can have a good end to the season. And then, they’re going to have issues someday down their line and hopefully this will help them.”
In that year, I think it was 2015 when you started 0-3, when you improved the rest of the season, that was aided by thatquarterback you had, number eight. What’s the way you get better with the team that you have, in a similar way?
“Kind of like we did the other night, mixing it up on who we get the ball to and who makes the plays. We’re getting more guys involved the last two weeks, I think that’s helped our offense. We have tight ends catching balls. We’ve got young receivers catching balls, making plays. Being able to get the ball to (redshirt junior running back) Trey (Smith) and Hassan. Running the football better. We have to get where we’re in the game and we can run it more. That’s what I want to see, us in the game and running it more. Defensively, we’ve made strides. That was a different offense. We’ve got to be able to put that behind us now. That’s one of the things that we did this morning is we watched that, and then, we came back and watched Florida State with the defense, so we can see the success that we did have and why and how fast and hard we were playing.”