Football Press Conference Highlights

Head Coach Bobby Petrino“I’m happy with the last game. Our guys played hard, and played with good effort. Our coaches had a good plan, particularly early in the game on offense, and late in the game on defense. It was a good game for us, certainly a great way for us to end the season and head into recruiting.”

Defensive strategy against LSU“We knew that they were about 70% run, so we put in a different personnel group. I thought we had to get as much strength and size into the game as possible. When they went to [a certain] personnel, we went to a bigger defense. We inserted Cord Gray with a three technique, moved Malcolm [Sheppard] out to an end, brought in Lavunce Askew at the other end, and brought Walner Leandre down from the safety spot. We put every big guy we had in the box, and left the corners out there completely by themselves. That’s why when you give up the one big touchdown, you really can’t worry about it. You’ve just got to keep playing, because they were out there the whole time by themselves. It really helped us stop the run, helped us on first down, and got us ahead in the sticks and put pressure on the freshman quarterback.”

The possibility of Malcolm Sheppard at Defensive end next year“I don’t know about that yet. It depends on his ability to get bigger, he has aspirations to play at the next level and the idea is if he can get to 290, or 295, he could be a very active pass rusher inside, and if he can’t carry that weight then defensive end is a great possibility.”

Regarding the coaching staff“I anticipate no movement in our staff, sometimes a coach walks in and has an opportunity somewhere else, but I certainly feel that our staff worked extremely hard, did a good job in the transition. They’re very good teachers, they’re very detailed oriented, we got better as the year went on and played a lot of young guys. I think the carryover of not only what we do scheme wise, but what we do as far as our technique and the details to our position will really help our young guys.”

How much better are you at the end of the season compared to the start?“I think we were a lot better. As I was watching cut ups today you see the Western Illinois game and the Louisiana-Monroe game and having to come behind in those games. I think we improved a lot. We’re certainly not where we want to be, and we’re working toward that. I’m looking forward to the off season, because we have a lot to work on. First and foremost with out physical status. We have to get stronger, bigger and work extremely hard on our speed. I think it’s going to be great for these young guys, true freshman, redshirt freshman to understand now what they are facing each week. The size and the speed of the competition, and I think our motivation will be very high.”

On the injuries to Lucas Miller and Michael Smith“Lucas [Miller] is scheduled to have surgery sometime here shortly. Michael [Smith] had surgery. He ended up having a torn hamstring. He went and had a second opinion and they wanted to have surgery on it. He’s back and doing well. Certainly he won’t get a lot of action in the spring but we expect him to be 100% by the fall.”

Who is the quarterback for next year?“It’s pretty wide open. Certainly what Nathan did in the last two games carries over and we have a lot of work to do in the offseason and before spring ball. It will be interesting to see how they all handle that. I know they’re all looking forward for the competitiveness of it and it should be a good competition. I know I’m looking forward to it. I think they’ll all benefit from the competition. “

Ryan Mallett“Ryan has a tremendous amount of natural leadership. When he steps into the huddle it demands a lot of respect from his teammates. A lot of that comes natural to him. It’s not an area we need to work on, which is a good thing for a quarterback. He did a tremendous job in his redshirt fall working extra on his foot quickness. He dropped 20 pounds, which is very encouraging. I thought he did a great job handling it. It’s hard when you’re that competitive and you have always played your entire life in every sport and been the starter and probably the star of the team to sit back and have to watch. I think he had a good redshirt year. He was in all the meetings, took all the tests and went through everything for the game plan. I think he has a chance. He can really throw the ball and has a good, quick, natural upper body release. All of his work needs to be on his foot quickness and his ability to move in the pocket and avoid the rush. “

Red Shirt Players“There were a number of guys that stood out in redshirt practices. Alfred Davis came into camp about 20 pounds overweight and certainly wasn’t in condition to play early in the season and dropped the weight as he got working out and got stronger and did an excellent job in the weight room. He was a load to block on the scout team and in those workouts. He is a big guy that can play inside and uses his hands well. He really seems like he understands the game so I think he really has a chance to make an impact early for us. Tenarius Wright is a guy that we were planning on playing as a true freshman and he came to camp with a great mindset then had that high ankle sprain. He will be a really good football player whether it is at inside linebacker or outside linebacker or a cross between an outside linebacker and a defensive end.”