ATHENS — Bobby Petrino and the Louisville Cardinals held their bowl media day on Tuesday in Louisville. Georgia coach Mark Richt and the Bulldogs will hold theirs today at the Butts-Mehre football complex. But we’ll get to the Dogs later.
As for Petrino, it was interesting listening to and reading his comments. The Cardinals have been practicing and preparing for their Belk Bowl matchup against Georgia since this past Friday (UGA returns to the field today) and it is evident the Bulldogs not only have Petrino’s full attention, but his respect as well.
“The last two days we’ve worked on game-planning and really getting to know Georgia,” Petrino said in his opening remarks. “That’s been fun and exciting, but makes you nervous.”
Petrino was asked why the Bulldogs would make him nervous.
“When you watch them on film, they’re a very good football team,” he said. “They’ve got a really good offensive line, big running backs, the quarterback has completed 69 percent of his passes and doesn’t throw a lot of picks. Defensively, they’ve got a great pass rusher, and they run and tackle well. So it’s a great challenge for us.
“Anytime you sit there watching video and you’re trying to game plan, you get a feel for how good the team is you’re going against. So we’ve got our work cut out for us, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Of course, Petrino has an ace in the hole when it comes to Georgia. He plucked defensive coordinator Todd Grantham off the Bulldogs’ staff just three days after beginning his second stint as Louisville’s head coach last January.
Obviously, Grantham has more than a little insight on the Bulldogs’ players. The Cardinals aim to tap into that.
“Todd is very familiar with a lot of their players,” Petrino said. “He’s done an unbelievable job here, we’re very fortunate to have him here. We met with him on their personnel and he gave us an evaluation on each guy he knows well. Certainly that helps us in our preparation. But we’re just excited he’s working for us.”
Of course, the Cardinals have a few issues of their own to work out before the Dec. 30 game in Charlotte. It starts at the quarterback position. They lost starter Will Gardner to a knee injury in the season’s 10th game, then lost No. 2 QB Reggie Bonnafon to a knee injury in the regular-season finale against Kentucky.
That’s the bad news. The good news for Louisville is redshirt freshman Kyle Bolin filled in against Kentucky and finished with 381 yards passing and three touchdowns in the 44-40 come-from-behind win. Meanwhile, Bonnafon’s injury was determined to be a bone bruise and he has been practicing in a limited capacity so far.
“We’re encouraged that he’ll be ready for the game but we don’t really know yet,” Petrino said Tuesday.
There has been some talk of playing both quarterbacks, but Petrino said the staff hasn’t discussed it yet.
Petrino did say the fact that their opponent for the Belk Bowl is Georgia has helped the Cardinals get refocused.
“It has certainly helped our preparation, helped our guys to be very motivated,” he said. “Makes it a lot easier when we’re here practicing, getting up in the morning and lifting weights and everybody else is home for Christmas. I think that’s one of the things that’s good when you play a game like that.”