LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Bobby Petrino's ongoing transition in his second stint as Louisville's coach coincides with the program's other changes.
The process continues Tuesday with the first spring practice for the Cardinals and Petrino, who replaced Charlie Strong in January after Strong took Texas' head coaching job. He takes over a team that went 23-2 the past two seasons with bowl wins in each and now aims to remain competitive as rookie members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Four weeks of drills will involve adjustments on both sides of the ball for Petrino but his biggest comes on offense, where he must replace star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and install his pass-oriented philosophy. The Cardinals' defense meanwhile must replace seven starters while switching to a 3-4 formation.
"Our objectives for spring ball, number one, will be to really teach and learn the new schemes," said Petrino, adding that his goals include fundamentals and handling adversity.
"It's a great challenge for our coaches to teach everything, and our players have to learn and really start to understand what the schemes are that we're going to use."
Petrino, 83-30 career as a college coach, is back at Louisville after going 41-9 the first time around from 2003-2006. A 13-game stint with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons followed before he returned to the college ranks for four years at Arkansas and an 8-4 finish at Western Kentucky last fall.
The 53-year-old coach inherits a squad that returns seven offensive starters but lost Bridgewater, the Cardinals' No. 3 career passer. That's a huge priority as they join the ACC's Atlantic Division, which includes reigning national champion Florida State and its Heisman Trophy winning-quarterback, Jameis Winston.
Sophomore Will Gardner tops the Cardinals' depth chart after passing for 112 yards and two touchdowns early last season as Bridgewater's backup. But Petrino sidestepped calling him the front-runner and said that redshirt freshman Kyle Bolin and junior college transfer Brett Nelson would compete with him, even into fall practice.
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