Petrino can’t keep changing quarterbacks

Two games into the 2015 college football season and the University of Louisville is winless. That’s going to change very soon or things could get crazy around here.

The last time UofL lost its first two games was in 1994 during Howard Schnellenberger’s 10th and final season in Louisville. No, not even Steve Kragthorpe stumbled out of the gate like this, believe it or not.

Kyle Bolin
Kyle Bolin

Too soon to know whether it’s the beginning of a trend. The two losses could just be coincidental and everything will turn out okay.  The time to panic will be if and when certain people around the program start talking about “righting the ship” and “doing things the right way,” or words to that effect.

Unless we have been completely delusional about Coach Bobby Petrino’s coaching abilities, that’s not going to happen. Petrino has no tolerance for losing. He’s pretty close to be backed into a corner. Don’t expect Mr. Nice Guy Lately to countenance anything short of total commitment. Back to the basics, expecting, demanding results.

Expect Petrino also has to settle this week on the quarterback he believes has the best chance of growing in his offense. The experimenting, the free lancing probably a thing of the past for now. He has to go with someone who understands his offensive philosophy and has the inherent skills and confidence to make it work. Right now that is probably Kyle Bolin, the redshirt sophomore.

We were thinking a week ago the answer was Lamar Jackson. He promptly went out and played like a typical freshman the next game, temporarily delaying what could turn out to be a brilliant career. Trying too hard, trying to do everything, losing his way against Houston.

Whoever the starting quarterback turns out to be, Petrino needs to stick with him through the good and bad times. Constantly changing quarterbacks suggests that he doesn’t have complete trust in any of them, and the other players recognize that, not knowing what to expect and needing confidence in their leadership.

Petrino radiates confidence about Louisville football

Most football coaches will hedge their bets when discussing their teams but Bobby Petrino obviously likes his University of Louisville team two weeks prior to the opening game against Auburn. He especially loves his defensive line, which is providing him with what he needs to know about who will be calling signals in the first game.

A man who not only knows football inside and out but who has the ability to inform and educate during press conferences, a rare commodity in football coaches. He spoke to the local sport media Friday before the 2015 Kickoff Luncheon.

Lamar Jackson gets a look on kickoff returns

A quarterback returning kickoffs and punts? Not likely but Lamar Jackson is not your typical quarterback.

Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson

Coach Bobby Petrino revealed during a Central Cardinal Club fan meeting Wednesday that he has experimented with using freshman Jackson on punt returns.

“He probably could play other positions than quarterback,” said Petrino. “We’ve had him back the other day working on catching kickoffs and punts. He is a dynamic athlete. Probably one of the fastest guys on our team. Certainly can change directions and has great speed.

“But he is first and foremost a quarterback. He really throw the football. He has great instincts and vision. There are times he makes throws and we just say wow. He is a great athlete who can help out in a number of ways.”

Wouldn’t be too surprising either to see Jackson occasionally line up as a receiver if he’s that versatile.

Petrino excited as fall camp begins, really

Bobby Petrino has been everywhere the past two weeks, talking up University of Louisville football, indicating that he’s eagerly anticipating the 2015 season.

And, yes, he is excited. Always the first thing he says, about being excited, how loves this group of players, the attitude, the leadership, the commitment and the good work ethic. One last press conference on Wednesday. The talking is behind him now, with fall football camp opening on Thursday.

Video from TheCrunchzone

Will Gardner’s track record makes him best bet

The really good news on the University of Louisville quarterback situation is that Will Gardner has been cleared by the medical staff and will be competing for starting position when fall camp opens Thursday.

Gardner, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound junior, separated himself from the pack last season, completed 127 passes for 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns. That, of course, was before he tore an ACL in left knee in the 10th game against Boston College. He underwent surgery on the knee in April, later saying it felt stronger than ever.

Will Gardner back in contention.
Will Gardner back in contention.

Let’s hope that’s true because Gardner brings confidence and accuracy to the quarterback position, qualities that will be badly needed with a largely untested offensive line. He faced many of the same challenges last season, putting up some respectable numbers, playing injured most of the time.

Coach Bobby Petrino keeps saying that Reggie Bonnafon would be the starter if the season started this week. Bobby knows best but UofL fans can’t help but remember Bonnafon’s less-than-stellar performances against Clemson and Kentucky last season, all those over and under throws and all those frustrating third-down mishaps.

Bonnafon actually played in two more games than Gardner last season, competing 61 passes for 864 yards for five touchdowns before going down in the UK game. He was good for only one completion in the embarrassing 37-14 loss to Georgia in the Belk Bowl.

Players often make some significant strides between their freshman and sophomore seasons. Bonnafon would have to have made some major improvements in his game if he is going to be successful in the opener against Auburn in the Chick fil A opener.

Gardner was hobbled three times last season, in the fourth game against Florida International, missing the next two games before returning in the second half against Clemson. He had UofL on Clemson’s two-yard when the game ended.

If Gardner can make it safely through fall camp, don’t be surprised to see him calling signals at the Georgia Dome.