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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


April 23, 2014


Bobby Petrino


BOBBY PETRINO:  It's great to be back in Louisville.  I'm really enjoying my time back here, and my family is really excited about it.  I was really happy with the way we went through spring ball.  We had a football team that really came out with a lot of effort, their willingness to learn new schemes, and we have some good leadership within our team, so that really helps a lot.
We have a long way to go.  We're not close to where we need to be to open the season September 1, but with the attitude and work ethic that we have on the team, I'm excited about where we can get to as a football team.

Q.  Can I ask you about the possible unionization and speculation with what's gone on at Northwestern.  How do you come down on that and how does your administration come down on it and are players talking about it?
BOBBY PETRINO:  We really haven't heard any of our players talk about it at all.  I'm really not sure I understand everything that's going on up there at Northwestern.  Basically what we've been focusing on is doing a good job in the classroom, getting out and practicing, and I've really had no feedback about what's going on at Northwestern at all.

Q.  There's been no talk internally, staff members or administration about the possibility?
BOBBY PETRINO:  No, not at all.

Q.  You brought up the fact that there was some leadership that emerged for you in the spring, and I was wondering if you could talk about who those were.
BOBBY PETRINO:  Well, on the defensive side of the ball, I think on our defensive front Sheldon Rankins does a good job of leading.  He's very experienced.  He's played all positions up front, so he's a guy that I thought really took charge and did a great job for us.  Lorenzo Mauldin is going to be very good leader for us.  He didn't participate in all parts of spring ball, so it'll be exciting to see him get out there and go through all of it.
On offense, our offensive linemen that returned did a really nice job.  When you look at Jake Smith and everything that he's done for the program and the experience that he has, he's very vocal, and everybody on the offense respects him.  We're excited about that.
And Will Gardner, he's just young.  He doesn't have a lot of experience playing in a game, but he certainly believes he's the leader of the team just by the way he goes about his business on a daily basis.

Q.  And then as far as your transition from, like you said, instilling what you want to do as opposing to what Charlie was doing in the past, how do you feel the team has responded to what you're looking for?
BOBBY PETRINO:  I think they've been great.  They've been very willing to work hard.  They like being in the classroom, and they really have a great work ethic, which is a credit to Charlie Strong and his staff that they've instilled that in them.  It's been really an easy transition, and we're just teaching.  It's been a lot of teaching and a lot of learning, but the great thing is you go out on the field and they work hard at it and work to get better each day.

Q.  To follow up on that, what do you see as your role with this program in terms of the challenge of it because it's not like you're taking over a building job where you've got to turn a loser into a winner.  This program was already successful.  What's your mantra or your statement with this job?
BOBBY PETRINO:  Yeah, I think it's very similar to when I came in before and took over for John L. Smith.  It's a program that's pretty well set and has great leadership.  But now it's time to go to the next level, and going into the ACC and the challenge that that presents with the schedule and in recruiting, it's exciting for all of us.  It's an exciting time for the city of Louisville and all our fans, and it presents a great challenge.
It'll be fun.  It'll be fun to have to prepare real hard each game and most of the games I feel will go into the fourth quarter, and you're going to have to be in great condition and have good depth and be able to win some tough games in the fourth quarter.

Q.  From what you've seen from your pieces in the spring, how ready do you feel this team is to play in the ACC this fall and be in a division with Florida State and Clemson?
BOBBY PETRINO:  Well, we feel like we can go in and compete.  That's certainly our goal and something that we're going to work towards.  But we're going to have to show it.  That's why it's exciting to have a great opener like we do with Miami.

Q.  I was wondering for your team this spring, what was the biggest development in terms of the biggest thing that happened for those guys?
BOBBY PETRINO:  I don't know about the biggest thing, but offensively we have some really good depth at the wide receiver position, some returners at running back, tight ends on the offensive front, so the big challenge there was to play well at the quarterback position.  I think Will kind of came in and took over.  A lot of times as a head coach, what you do is you send them out there and see how they react to it, and he jumps in the front of the line.  He's the first guy to go, and in his mind there was no doubt who the starting quarterback was going to be.  So that was good to see without us setting a depth chart or telling him what to do.
And then defensively, the transition to a three‑down front at times is exciting for us because we really feel like the outside linebackers/defensive end guys that we have fit perfect into Todd Grantham's scheme and guys will be able to really show their abilities to rush the passer and play the pass, also.
The transition to the 3‑4 is something that was fun to see how it took place.

Q.¬† What do you guys have to do quarterback‑wise because you lost Teddy Bridgewater to the NFL?
BOBBY PETRINO:  Well, we had three guys that went out and basically competed hard in the spring.  Will Gardner came out of spring ball as the No.1 quarterback, so if we were going to play today he would be the guy that goes out there first.  He's a guy that's 6'5", I'm going to keep him under 230 pounds because we feel like he'll be more agile and be able to move.  But he's very competitive.  He certainly has the respect and the trust of all his teammates and can make the different throws and move in the pocket and do the things we want to do.
We still have to develop the depth behind him, and then hopefully we get some help from our true freshmen who will come in in the fall or basically this summer and compete for some playing time or compete for the starting job.

Q.  What's the feeling like around the campus knowing that you guys are now in the ACC and you've got some tough games coming up in 2014 and beyond?
BOBBY PETRINO:  Well, I think it's really exciting for our fans to be able to see the home schedule that we're going to have and be able to bring teams in here like Florida State, Miami and North Carolina State, and also the excitement of where our road games are going to be.  I think it's what our fans have wanted for a long time, and now it's here.

Q.  What is your background with the Granthams, and how did that come about that you hired Todd in particular?
BOBBY PETRINO:¬† Well, we had to go up against Georgia one year and face them early in the season, a game we spent a tremendous amount of time preparing for in the off‑season over the winter and the summer, and at the time we were watching the Dallas Cowboys' defense because Todd had just went from Dallas to the University of Georgia.¬† And then we played them.¬† I've got great respect for the team that he ran, and what you do as a coach is you continually follow that and see the success.¬† He really went in there and turned Georgia's defense around and got them in a position to go to the SEC Championship game, so I have total respect for that.
We started communicating and visiting and had the idea of the ability some day to match up what I like to do offensively with what he likes to do defensively.  So when this opportunity came about, I took a swing at it, had great support from our administration and Tom Jurich and was able to make it happen.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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