Two days after defeating in-state rival Kentucky for his first victory as Head Coach at the University of Louisville, Bob Petrino spoke with the media about the game at a 1:30 press conference at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
"I thought we played hard..gave great effort and executed the majority of the game plan," Petrino told the media Tuesday afternoon. "But we still have a ways to go and we'll go back to basics this week. I was happy with our special teams..they changed momentum [with the blocked punt for a touchdown and the safety] and Michael Bush did a nice job [with protection]."
Petrino, who received several congratulatory phone calls the past two day, including one Tuesday morning from former UofL Head Coach John L. Smith, said one thing was evident and echoed by nearly all he had spoken with.
"Everybody watched that game [on ESPN]," Petrino said making the pitch that the Labor Day weekend works best for scheduling purposes for the UofL/UK game. "And that's a benefit for both schools."
The team took Monday off and begin preparing for Syracuse this afternoon with meetings and film sessions. The team will then practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, take Saturday off and resume practicing on Sunday.
Petrino was seemed pleased with his offensive lines play against the Wildcats, who just one year earlier had manhandled their Louisville counterparts. The line, consisting of starters Travis Leffew, Renardo Foster, Jason Spitz, Dan Koons and Jerry Spencer, paved the way for the Cardinal ground attack to gain 240 yards rushing and allowed just one sack of quarterback Stafan LeFors.
"They gave real good second effort..we've got some technical things to clear up," Petrino said. "Their effort grade was real good...[but] communication needs to be better."
The Cardinal defense spent nearly 17 minutes on the field during the first half and appeared a bit weary in the third quarter, allowing two Jared Lorenzen touchdown strikes to narrow the Cards 21-10 halftime lead to 26-24. However, the Cards controlled both the clock and fourth quarter, grinding out two long drives that resulted in two rushing touchdowns and the games final margin.
"I felt the defense was on the field too long," Petrino said. "I was most happy about [controlling the ball] 11 minutes and 47 seconds in the fourth quarter...The defensive line coming back to fall camp in better shape really helped the offensive line [improve] during camp. Tyrone Saterfield really played well and was disruptive up front."
Petrino was also happy with the performance of his young but talented secondary, a unit that started a redshirt freshman at corner and a sophomore at strong safety and the play of first year starting quarterback Stefan LeFors.
"We disrupted their initial timing and routes," Petrino said of the Cards success against the Wildcat passing attack in the first half. "I was [also] happy with Stefan. He was relaxed and you could see him picture in his mind [what we were asking him to execute on the sidelines]. He did a great job of competing."
One focus for the Cardinal offense is "Bull Yards," by the running backs...that is how many yards the backs get after the initial contact from the defense. Eric Shelton, who rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns, had plenty of "Bull Yards," against the Wildcats.
"It was a lot," Petrino said of Shelton's "Bull Yards.
1-0 as starter
LeFors, who completed 14-23 passes for 180 yards with one touchdown and one interception, felt his performance was steady and solid but gave lots of credit to Eric Shelton, Lionel Gates and the offensive coaching staff and their game plan for his and the teams success.
"The coaches did a great job," LeFors said. "And they game planned great."
Many observers seemed to sense a new attitude Sunday night from the 2003 version of the Cardinal football team, particularly when the game got close late in the third quarter. Starting safety Brent Johnson agreed.
"We feel we're a whole different team," Johnson said in reference to the troubles of the 2002 season. "I credit the coaches for that."
Defensive end Marcus Jones was all over the field the entire night, penetrating the UK offensive line and pressuring quarterback Jared Lorenzen. Jones recorded six solo tackles, made two tackles for loss and had two sacks on the night. So what kind of effort did he give for that performance?
"The kind of effort that required two IV's after the game," Jones said.
Lionel Gates, who carried 13 times for 75 yards and scored the games final touchdown, credited the offensive line for the rushing out put.
"They've come along ways...they're working harder and are more confident," Gates said of the offesive line.
In reference to the last touchdown, Gates explained why the Cards made the decision to score against the Wildcat defense with a nine point lead with 6 seconds left in the contest.
"They were talking a lot of crap and I think we should have [scored the final touchdown]...they're an SEC team...and they were still talking late in the game," Gates said.
- Four true freshman saw action Sunday against the Kentucky Wildcats. QB Michael Bush, TE Wayne Riles, LB Deriontae Taylor and DT Amobi Okoye played vs. the Wildcats.
- The Cards received nine votes in this weeks ESPN/USA Today Top 25.
- The Cardinal offense averaged an amazing 6.9 yards on first down against Kentucky, a dramatic improvement from the 3.1 yards the Cards averaged last season in a loss to the Wildcats.
- Louisville's next opponent, the Syracuse Orangemen, open this Saturday against North Carolina on the road. The Cards are 0-3 overall against the Orange.