Q & A: Paul Petrino

Offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Paul Petrino visited with ITV on Wednesday. We discussed the returning receivers, spring practice and more.

Paul Petrino is beginning his second stint as apart of the Louisville coaching staff, this time as the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. He served as the receivers coach during his previous stay and worked with players like Arnold Jackson, LaVell Boyd, Charles Sheffield and Zek Parker.

ITV: How is it to be back in Louisville?

Coach Paul Petrino: It's great. My wife really liked it when we were here before, so we are real happy to be back. When we were here before her brother came out and lived with us for his junior year and senior year in high school. He plays soccer in Indiana, so when we left her Dad retired here, so she has family here and I have family here.

ITV: Do you stay in touch with some of the players you worked with when you here before?

Coach Petrino: Arnold [Jackson] and I are about as close as I've been with anyone I have ever coached. He's doing real well with the [Arizona] Cardinals. I talk to LaVell [Boyd] all the time. He just left for NFL Europe. He was playing in Arena up in Detroit, but he's going to NFL Europe. Zek [Parker] also just left for NFL Europe. I'm still pretty close to those guys, they were are pretty good players.

(NOTE: Boyd was allocated by the Houston Texans to the Rhein Fire; Parker will be playing for the Barcelona Dragons)

ITV: What type of techiniques do you utilize in preparing receivers to help them improve, both in catching the ball and running their routes?

Coach Petrino: I just try to work them hard. We have a ball routine that we will go through everyday and different ball drills that we will do everyday. We really just try to pay attention to details of running the routes, good stances and having good hands. Hopefully it's going to be another really good group. I think there is definately talent in this group. At that position a lot of times, I think really more than anything else, if you can discipline them and get them to play hard and get them to do what you want them to do. Most schools have the talent at that position, but you just got to get them to be disciplined and pay attention to all the little details.

ITV: Have you been impressed by what you have seen on film?

Coach Petrino: I think so. It maybe more of what I have seen what I have seen in the weight room and moving around. A few of them made some big plays last year. I think there is some talent there, so if we can all get on the same page we should have a pretty good group this year.

ITV: From what you have seen on film and in the weight room, do you have an idea who may become those go to guys?

Coach Petrino: I think that is going to take a couple weeks into spring ball for that. You can only tell so much from film and the weight room, you got to get out there and get going. Obviously you've got guys that have played that are returning like Joshua Tinch, Dontay Spillman, J.R. Russell, Broderick Clark, Antoine Harris, that's a lot of pretty good players. Victor Glenn has been here for four years. There's enough players, so you just have to find the right spot and get them all doing the right things. As much as anything, you need to come out of spring knowing who's your Z and who's your X and your W and how you're going to use them all. I think that when I was before everyone really knew their role. Arnold was our go to guy, LaVell and [Charles] Sheffield were the big tough guys who converted a whole bunch of third downs and caught the ball over the middle and then Zek was the speedster that didn't get as many catches, but made some big plays. There was a distinct role that they all played and they were all good at it, so we need to find that with this group.

ITV: There seems to somewhat of a similar makeup as before, with some small and quick guys, as well as some bigger receivers.

Coach Petrino: There is, you got a Tinch and a J.R., who are a couple of bigger guys and then there are guys like Antoine and Broderick who have real good speed. Since I haven't been out on the field with them yet it's hard to see how they'll actually do, so we just need to get out there with them first.

ITV: Is there a chance that some of the incoming freshman will get an opportunity as well?

Coach Petrino: There could be. We signed some real good receivers. I think that if there is a position on offense that you can come in and play early it's receiver. A lot of that will depend on well everyone works this spring and then how well the guys can pick stuff up as a freshman. It's a pretty good class that we signed. B.J. Vickers, Antwuan Giddens and Harry Douglass are some big time receivers in this class, so hopefully with receivers we should be pretty good for years to come.

ITV: How have things changed for you now that you are also the offensive coordinator?

Coach Petrino: It's something that I have always wanted to do. I think if anything it's just that day to day you're the organizes the meetings and runs the meetings. When I was with Coach Smith before, or Bob before and Linehan, we all just work together anyway, but you just have one guy that organizes it all and runs, so that parts a little different. With Bob's expertise with offense he's going to have the final say a lot of times anyway, but I just got to do a good job when he's busy when he's busy with his head coach duties. I have to make sure everything is organized and run well.

ITV: Obviously you get more input with all areas of the offense as well.

Coach Petrino: I think so, really as much as anything you just have to be a leader. You try to help to get the kids to work hard and believe in each other and be a motivator and get them all together as a unit and work together.

ITV: Being at Southern Miss last year and then by watching game film since you've been here, I'm sure you're aware of some of the problems that the offense had last year.

Coach Petrino: We need to have big improvement and I think you'll know that once you see us get going with spring ball. You can only do so much in the weight room to improve. We need to find the personality of this group. We're going to have to be real good around the quarterback, because they are going to be young and inexperienced no matter who it is. We got to make sure we run the ball real well to help the quarterback out. We'll be good on offense, I believe that. We have a real good staff, so I know we'll be good on offense.

ITV: How do see the development of the running game?

Coach Petrino: There are some really talented kids there. Eric Shelton should be a big time player, he's big, strong and talented. Lionel Gates and T.J. Patterson, those two are both real talented too. We have to do a good job schematically with the running game and they have to do a good job running hard. They need to key getting better, seeing the holes, with their one on one moves, so they need to keep get getting better themselves.

ITV: With someone like Kolby Smith coming in, is that an area where someone could move to another position?

Coach Petrino: We're not sure about that yet. Kolby is a real good player too, so he'll have a chance to come in and possibly contribute right away. This might be a case, where two of them place at once at times.

ITV: Will there be more pass attempts to the running backs with this offense?

Coach Petrino: Definately. Especially with a young quarterback we'll use the running backs more. We want to be able to throw the ball to them quite a bit.

ITV: Should people expect to see a wide open offense similar to when you were here last, or will be more of a balanced offense, similar to what Bob did at Auburn with a young quarterback?

Coach Petrino: I'm not sure if we'll be as wide open as we were that one year with Chris Redman, but hopefully we'll get to that again someday. I think we got to do whatever our talent is. It might be a mixture of what we did here before and what Bob did at Auburn, so that would be the best way to put it. Maybe not all one way, or all the other way, but somewhere inbetween.

ITV: Do you have a philosophy of trying to redshirt the freshmen every year?

Coach Petrino: If they are good enough to play, you play them. Often they will redshirt, but if they come and show that they are good enough to play, then you I think you have to play them.

ITV: When you are out recruiting, is there a certain type of receiver that you look for?

Coach Petrino: At this point you are just looking for the best players. Right now we are just writing and sending mail to all the best players in our areas and trying to get them all interested in coming here. I have never put a size or style with a receiver. I just one to get the best ones I can get. Arnold didn't have great size and he was one of the best one's I've ever had. I've also had big guys that were real good, so I never think that there is a certain size. The most important thing to me is finding guys that can make plays. Some do it because they are fast and some do it because they're big, but the bottom line is that it has to be guys that can make plays.

ITV: What are looking forward to with spring practice?

Coach Petrino: Just to get out there and get coaching will be real exciting. Getting to actually work with the kids and actually see them improve. We want to go out there and play with great emotion and enthusiasm every day and make sure we walk off that field better everyday and to have a good understanding of the offense by the end of spring.

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