Bobby Petrino ran his first spring practice as WKU’s football coach on Friday and exactly one reporter was there for the post-practice news conference – yours truly. Guess that makes it more of a chat than a news conference.
In all seriousness, it’s a busy time with the hoops Hilltoppers in action vs. Kansas tonight, and the lack of attendance was expected – a “lonely day,” as Petrino put it.
Here are Petrino’s thoughts on WKU’s first practice and his first practice as a head coach in nearly a year:
BOBBY PETRINO, WKU football coach
How was it for a first day? “It was fun to be out on the field and get our first practice in. We threw a lot at them. We had a good week of install, so we were able to go out and throw a lot at them. You could see who had experience and who didn’t. That secondary and linebackers, picking things up and going fast. Defensive line has a ways to go, just learning and understanding the tempo.”
What did you see today? “I’m impressed with our offense line and tight ends. That’s a really good group, our running backs is a good group, and it’s going to be fun to see how it all plays out at quarterback and wide receiver. We throw a lot of balls in practice. They get a lot of work, which I think is probably new to a lot of them. I was impressed with their effort, and everyone tried hard.”
Do you think it’s best to just throw them into the fire? “That’s always kind of been our philosophy. We try to put a lot in the first seven days, and then we come back and re-install. Then we come back in the fall and do it again, so teach everything three times, and then it’s up to us as a coaching staff to understand what our players can do well, what our quarterback can execute and build our offense and defense around our players.”
After all of the media interviews and attention, how nice was it to coach some football? “I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it. I was impressed with our coaching staff. I thought they did an excellent job in the preparation for the practice. I liked their energy and intensity. I had fun. It was really enjoyable.”
Stressing attention to detail: “The key to our success in the past has been that the players have bought into attention to detail, technique and fundamentals. They have to understand that how you do that makes the scheme work. It’s not any magical schemes out there. It’s how well we get in a stance and use our technique. I like our team and how they’ve bought into it.”
What did you see from the three quarterbacks today? “Well, they all have a lot to learn. They really do. They’ve got to really understand the difference in the passing game, the timing, the rhythm of it. I thought they all kind of pressed a little bit and were hurrying their drops. They just have to learn to be consistent, trust their teammates and understand it’s all about timing. … There’s a lot of ability there. Guys that can learn quick, and they all have leadership qualities.”
Do you think they were pressing because they were trying to make a good first impression with you? “My philosophy has always been, ‘Let’s put a lot of pressure on them in practice and really get after the quarterbacks in practice.’ We want to make the games the easy part. We expect them to perform well in practice. It’s not OK to make a mistake, and we like to put a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks in practice, and then it’ll pay off on Saturday.”
Anyone else stand out to you? “Antonio Andrews is a special player, and I thought he did a really nice job. He’s been a pleasure to coach because he’s so coachable. I thought Jonathan Dowling is doing a nice job on the back end and working hard at getting better every day. It’s nice to see the older guys really buy into it and have great attitudes.”