Injuries to Lamar Jackson and Reggie Bonnafon may have led to Kyle Bolin getting the nod for starting quarterback against Syracuse on Saturday, but his performance against the Orange will be the reason behind his start on Saturday against Virginia.
"We need him to go out and play well," said Petrino. "He's gonna start this game and he needs to go out and play well and not worry anything about the job or losing the job. He just needs to have the mindset that, 'I'm gonna keep getting better in practice, go out and perform and do better than I did last week.'"
It was Bolin's second start of the season - also getting the call against Clemson in week three - and third of his career. The result was an offensive performance that head coach Bobby Petrino labeled as the "best to date." U of L racked up 572 yards, it's most this season, while Bolin's 362 passing yards was the highest output through the air since the Cardinals beat Kentucky last fall.
Lamar Jackson (ankle) and Reggie Bonnafon (concussion) are back at practice.
"They both practiced last night. They both threw the ball around and it's the best that Jackson looked since last Tuesday. And Reggie looks like he'll be ready to go. Saturday morning he wanted to play, but because of the protocol the decision was made Wednesday that he's out for the game. We hoped he would feel like that Saturday morning because then we would know he'd have a great chance to play this week."
Sophomore cornerback has emerged as a big-play performer for the Cardinals this season. His sack and forced fumble led to Sheldon Rankins touchdown return against Boston College and he is the team leader with four interceptions.
Against Syracuse, the 5-foot-10 corner totaled a team-high and career-best 12 tackles, including four for a loss. His second quarter interception and 39-yard return for a touchdown put the Cardinals ahead 14-10.
"Trumaine Washington had an unbelievable game, not only the interception for a touchdown but the tackles and all the production and how tough he played. It was really fun to watch him play," said Petrino.
"He's like T Buck, he's a little guy with a big heart and thinks he's tougher than anybody else in the room. And that's why he can play. That's why he came in here and played right away as a true freshman is because of how much he believes in himself. So it's a real credit to him. He's always been a good tackler, he's just really tough and physical and enjoys the contact."
For the first time this season, the Cardinals ground game was led by the running backs. Entering Saturday's contest, freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson was the team's leading rusher. Against the Orange, Louisville surpassed the 200-yard mark in rushing for the fourth time this season finishing with 217 yards (third best in 2015) on 31 carries. Brandon Radcliff posted a season-high 117 yards, while Jeremy Smith added 71 yards.
"It was everybody really," said Petrino. "It was the line did a better job on their initial blocks and on finishing. Our running backs were hitting their tracks and not hesitating, and breaking tackles. Kyle did a good job getting us out of bad plays and our receivers were really working hard to get blocks down field. The effort by our receivers was very, very good."
Petrino also credited the Bolin's ability to work under center.
"I've always liked the running game from under the center," he explained. "I think it gives your backs some advantage. It gives you some advantage of where you want to run - to the right or left - so I think it does help a lot."
Louisville's bowl outlook looked pretty dismal after the team's 0-3 start, but winners of three straight, and five of its last six, the Cardinals are now just one game away from becoming bowl eligible.
"That's what we're working for is we want to get to a bowl, and obviously we know this is the most important game for us to get that done," said Petrino. "We're just really trying to concentrate on one game at a time, but all the time you know what's sitting out there. But our best way to get there is to just focus in practice and get ready to beat Virginia"