Q & A with Head Coach Bobby Petrino: Part Two

In the second installment of ITV's visit with head coach Bobby Petrino, the coach talks about preparing for spring practice, competition at the running back position, the BCS and more.

ITV: In looking at game film, what do expect to see during spring practice?

Coach Bobby Petrino: We've watched a lot of the game film and made cut ups of the returning players so we can evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Basically, as I told the players, there is no depth chart right now. Everyone has an opportunity. The evaluation process has started, so they know that they need to show us what they can do. That is the greatest thing about change, because it's a fresh start for everybody.

We will have to have somebody lined up there [as the first unit], but they have from now until then to show us who that will be.

ITV: Talk about the offensive line and reducing the amount of defensive pressure that the team struggled with last season.

Coach Petrino: Well the first thing, I believe it is an 11 man pass protection. Of course the offensive line has their part in it, but the quarterback plays a big part in it. It's his job to get the protection set properly and take advantage of what we call the hot sight system versus the blitz and get the ball out on time. You can't sit back there and hold the ball. The tight ends play a big part in it. The running back does and then the timing with the receivers, that they are at where they are supposed to be at the right time and that they get open.

Any time you have a high number of sacks...the bullseye goes on the offensive line, but that's not always the case that it is their fault entirely. So what we have to do is make everyone understand that and do a good job of teaching how it all works together.

We'll limit our sacks. Some of it will because our offensive line will be better. Some of it will be because the quarterback will get the ball out quicker or that the receivers will get open quicker. When you put the whole package together we will eliminate some of those sacks.

ITV: You have mentioned that there will be somewhat of a fullback presence. What returning players may get an opportunity back there?

Coach Petrino: We are looking around a little at what we are going to do there. It'll make for a fun spring, because that position will basically be new to whoever plays it. We have a tightend who think can do a little of both. Adam McCauley is a guy that we are excited about. He has real good hands and he'll be a tough player that I think will do real good at it. Then the running backs will have an opportunity to do both a little bit. We can put two tailbacks back there at the same time. One can line up at fullback, but we won't really call them a fullback.

ITV: You mentioned on signing day that one of the benefits of Micheal Bush coming to Louisville is that he will be able to get a head start on learning your system. What things do you anticipate Michael doing to prepare himself to possibly come in and play right away?

Coach Petrino: He can't work with the team, but what he can do is come over and basically do what you would consider an unofficial visit. He can come on campus and watch practice, stand in the huddle, listen to the play, watch what's going on. Basically he can everything but actually practice and take the snaps.

Michael is working hard it all ready. He's got a playbook and he understands how we are calling defensive fronts and coverages.

ITV: How has [running back] Eric Shelton reacted to the change of the coaching staff?

Coach Petrino: He's been very eager to learn the system that we are putting in. He comes up everyday to study film of backs that I have worked with before. So I am really looking forward to watching him in spring and seeing exactly what he brings to the table and how explosive he is. I did watch some of his high school video and I saw that no one in the State of Kentucky could tackle him.

ITV: Talk about the competition at running back.

Coach Petrino: There will be some good competition there. [Lionel] Gates and T.J. [Patterson] feel like they can play and we will certainly give them that opportunity. The more competition that you have the better they will all be.

ITV: You had more than the limit of 25 incoming players. Are there eligibility concerns?

Coach Petrino: Well no one has actually been cleared by the clearinghouse yet. No one will get cleared until they actually graduate. There are a few that have some work to do, either with their core classes or with their tests. But it is actually a real good class academically. We'll probably have a couple that will have to Prop 48 where you come and sit for a year. We would anticipate that by the time school starts that we'll have 25 initials.

ITV: Talk about the possibility of changing the playing surface to more of a synthetic surface.

Coach Petrino: We are in the process of looking into. I would like to do it. I just think that it is what you are going to see in college football over the next ten years and that the majority of the stadiums will go to that. It's a safer surface and it's a consistant surface.

ITV: Fans often bring up the BCS issue. Was that an issue as you were recruiting?

Coach Petrino: I don't think it as big an issue as it appears to be. If you look at Conference USA and how it's improved in the last seven years and that when it started there was no thing as the BCS, so where will we be five years from now. Will it be the BCS, will there be a playoff system, who knows. So what you to do is concentrate is one year at a time and try and win the conference.

ITV: Will spring practice be open to the public?

Coach Petrino: Yes it'll be open for everyone, as they long as they don't wear anything with a big "K" on it.

Regarding open practice: Coach Petrino replied with the comment, "we'll play it by ear," on the possibility of keeping fall practice open due to what fans may post on the messageboards, but spring practice is expected to be open for the entire session. However, I do anticipate, that as game preperation begins for the home opener that practices may be closed.

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