The Bobby Petrino at Monday’s press conference more closely resembled the individual who ran the University of Louisville football program seven years ago, with the look of a man eager for fall football camp to begin.
The forced smile UofL fans have become accustomed to over the past seven months was not in evidence. Wearing a black Adidas pullover, Petrino only used the word “excited” twice. Sitting at a table with his hands clasped together, thumbs extended upward, Petrino had that familiar no-nonsense stare and monotone voice, obviously wanting to dispense with the formalities and get back to work.
Petrino knows the transition period for new coaches can sometimes be difficult, and it’s probably one of the more serious challenges the program faces, with an entire staff of new coaches, new offensive and defensive schemes, and the level of difficulties inherent in moving to a more prestigious conference. He said has been very encouraged with the early stages of transition, however.
“I compare it to when I was here the first time after John L (Smith),” he said. “We have a group of guys who know how to work hard, have positive attitudes, and are used to winning games. I’ve been very pleased with how we’ve made the transition. When I first talked to them, I congratulated them on how well they’ve played and the success they’ve had. I told them there would be some changes in coaching styles … but the quicker we adapt to change, the better chance we have to be a championship team. The internal leadership has been great.”
Immediate concerns include quarterback, the depth of the offensive line and the inexperience of the safeties. He was impressed by Will Gardner’s performance in the spring game and is looking forward to competition for the backup position. He said he feels better about the depth on the offensive line and safety positions than when he first arrived.
He noted that the majority of players who missed spring practice because of injuries or operations, including Lorenzo Maulding, are good to go as fall practice begins. The major exception is Jermain Reve who was injured in April and is still recovering. A cornerback last fall, Reve was moved to safety in the spring.
Although Petrino doesn’t voluntarily share a lot of information, he is very direct when answering questions, providing information that provides much more perspective than his predecessor.
But like Jake Smith, the senior center who followed Petrino at the press conference, said while the current and former coaches may go about things a little differently, they know what they’re doing. “We have great respect for both,” he said.