On Thursday afternoon, University of Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino was the guest speaker at the Unitas Luncheon at the Clarion Hotel. The Cardinals third-year head coach spoke to a room that consisted primarily of high school coaches and players, such as Central's Corey Peters and Western's Jimorris Johnson.
Those in attendance listened as Petrino spoke about the strengths of both his offensive and defensive squads, as well as the special teams. They heard him talk about preparing his team for play in the BIG EAST Conference, as well as focusing on the season opener against Kentucky.
Following are selected quotes from event. Visit goldenarmfoundation.com to learn how you can become a member of the Frank Camp Chapter of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation.
On the final week prior to the start of fall practice:
"Our players have been working extremely hard all summer. They have basically been lifting weights and running four days a week and then they go out on their own and do individual drills. I know they are tired of doing that and are ready to get started. We finished that part of the conditioning today actually and they'll come back next Friday to report to camp and we'll get started practicing on Saturday."
On the high expectations:
"We certainly understand that there are high expectations this season. Particularly among the fans and the media. I don't think a lot has changed with the coaching staff and players...we've had high expectations the last two years. The thing that's changed is the stakes are a little different. With our move into the BIG EAST comes a BCS Bowl, which would be great for everybody.
It's going to be a very difficult task for us. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the BIG EAST. They have a lot of tradition with West Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse and they have some great players coming back. We've already been able to understand how good the Cincinnati and South Florida programs are and we're looking forward to playing Connecticut and Rutgers."
On being selected as the preseason favorite in the BIG EAST Conference:
"I like the fact that we are going in as the favorite. It shows that we were a good football team last year, that we finished the season strong and I think that the preseason rankings go by a lot of that and also the players that you have coming back."
On the 2005 football squad:
"Although we had six guys drafted and another three guys go to NFL free agent camps, I like the team that we have coming back. I think we can replace the guys we lost very well.
On starting outside linebacker Brandon Johnson:
"When we first got here he was 6'5, 195-pounds and had absolutely no chest at all, but he could run. He knows football really well. Of all the football players on our team, Brandon understands the game as well as anybody.
He can tell by splits of the linemen and by the alignment of the backs what plays are coming at times. There are even times [in practice] when he'll watch the huddle break and see that Coach Nord and Coach Petrino both go to his left and he knows the play is going that way. He's a guy that rely's a lot on instincts and understands what's going to happen before the ball is actually snapped.
When it is snapped, he actually runs the forty in 4.4. He had one of our fastest times at 6'5 and now 220-pounds. He's looking to have a really good year."
On the competition at the middle linebacker position:
"It'll be a great competition between Matt Sanders, Lamar Myles and a junior college transfer (Nate Harris) that we have coming in. The three of them will battle it out and we'll find out who the starter is."
On quarterback Brian Brohm:
"I think Brian's performance last year was overshadowed by how well Stefan played. There's not a lot of true freshmen in the country that could have come in and complete over 64% of their passes, only throw two interceptions, take you when you are behind in the Miami game in the fourth quarter - in one of the most hostile enviroments that you could be in - and take you down for a touchdown and give you a chance to win that game.
He's a young man that has a tremendous amount of poise and a tremendous amount of talent. [His father] Oscar did a great job of coaching him when he was growing up.
He came to the University of Louisville because we convinced him that we had a chance to be in a BCS bowl game and win a national championship and now that opportunity is in front of him. I think he is as excited as anybody to do that."
On running back Michael Bush:
"Michael Bush might be the best athlete that I have ever been around and that includes my three years coaching in the NFL. He can do so many different things. He runs with the ball tremendously and he has great feet. He can throw it, he can catch it, he can change direction and the thing that he has over everybody is that he can do it at 250-pounds."
On senior receiver Joshua Tinch:
"He's one of the most exciting guys there is. He plays extremely hard and is truely a great person to coach. He'll do just about anything that you ask him to do and he'll do it as hard as he can."
On redshirt freshman receiver Mario Urrutia:
"I'm looking for him to have a big career. I'm not so sure how quick he'll be able to do that, simply because you worry about a freshman right off the bat. We will get him in there, particularly when we think teams are going to try press [coverage]."
On sophomore Breno Giacomini:
"He's 6'8, 281-pounds. We played him at weak tackle all throughout the spring so he could get a lot of reps, because he was a tight end the previous year. He's probably going to play both [this year.]."