LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Bobby Petrino looked serious as he walked into his first game-week news conference as Louisville's coach. His mood was understandable considering he was about to announce that top receiver DeVante Parker would miss nearly two months with a broken toe.
Petrino departed a half-hour later appearing more upbeat after discussing a Cardinals team he believes can overcome that setback with a deep receiving corps and a defense that returns several starters. The hard part is waiting until next Monday night to prove it.
But Petrino relishes having extra time to prepare for his second debut coaching Louisville, which will host Miami in the season opener. The game will be the Cardinals' Atlantic Coast Conference debut and their coach is eager to make a good first impression.
"This is now game week and now they're trying to get in the best position where they can play the best game that they have," said Petrino, who coached Louisville from 2003-06.
"If you go out as a team and as a player and all you're worried about is the end result, you end up losing a lot of games. What we need to worry about is playing one play at time, our performance and doing things that give you a chance to win games."
Louisville's offense will be challenged to offset the absence of Parker, who broke the fifth metatarsal (small toe) in his left foot in practice Friday night. He was scheduled to undergo surgery Monday afternoon in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will be sidelined six to eight weeks.
Petrino believes the Cardinals' abundance of quick and reliable receivers such as Eli Rogers, Kai De La Cruz, James Quick and tight end Gerald Christian are ready to make up the difference.
"We just got to do a good job of making sure that they're fresh out there and at full speed coming off the ball," Petrino said.
The coach settled one matter Sunday night by naming sophomore Will Gardner as his starting quarterback. Considered all along as the favorite to succeed Teddy Bridgewater, Gardner locked up the job in fall camp. However, Petrino hinted that freshman Reggie Bonnafon could spell Gardner for several series.
Continue reading this story on the...