Louisville's offense has been a mixed bag so far this season, but the Cardinals are hopeful they've found some answers during a bye week and will be clicking on all cylinders for Saturday's matchup with Florida State. To get an idea of how things have progressed, we caught up with running back Brandon Radcliff.
David Hale: How did you guys approach this bye week after a 2-3 start to the season?
Brandon Radcliff: We basically did the same thing, not taking that week off. We had a couple days to rest our bodies, but we used the bye week as an advantage to work on our technique and work against our opponent for this week. It wasn't much of a bye week. We're practicing the same way.
Hale: What was it like in the locker room losing your first three games of the year?
Radcliff: We had a lot of new guys coming into Coach [Bobby] Petrino's offense. Guys are younger. Last year, the wide receivers, the O-line, every position on the offensive side, they already knew the college way and how to take coaching. This year, we've got a lot of young guys on the field at quarterback, on the line and wide receiver. It started off slower than we wanted. But they're getting the tempo of college. I'm not saying they weren't ready, but most of those guys now are used to getting game tempo. Now they have that experience under their belt, and I think we're ready to take on those challenges.
Hale: You've cycled through three different starting quarterbacks this year. How does the offense change depending on which quarterback is in the game?
Radcliff: The quarterbacks bring the same type of tempo because they're coached by the same guys upstairs. They operate the same. Every quarterback that's back there in practice, Coach Petrino makes sure they get in a rhythm with teammates. They're all comfortable, and they can all run the offense. They're all confident.
Hale: Have you been impressed with the poise Lamar Jackson has shown as a true freshman?
Radcliff: He's held his own great. He's a freshman, coming straight out of high school, but he's evolving every day to become a complete quarterback. He's a fantastic athlete. He's comfortable back there, never nervous, poised. That's a great thing. And everybody is under him when he's out there. I like the way he controls the offense as a young guy.
Hale: How fast is he?
Radcliff: He's probably one of the fastest guys I've seen in college. It's natural speed. When he gets past that second level, it's a track meet. That's something you can teach, and he can run for days. That's something rare for a quarterback. It's rare speed.
Hale: How do you explain the struggles the running backs have had so far this season? Can you get things fixed going forward?
Radcliff: It's just being coachable. There's obstacles we have to get over, and we need to take those coaching tips and follow our assignments, and then success will come. If it's not there at the beginning, keep pushing. Of course it's been frustrating for all of us backs because we haven't had the success we thought we would have, but it's just getting back into the film room, studying our opponents and seeing how we can succeed as a group. We started slow, but I feel like we just have to bond and get some familiarity with our offensive line, know the personnel we're going against and understand the way we need to run the plays Coach Petrino calls. And this bye week, he focused on the running backs and showed us the things he's seen on film that we didn't do as well. It's given us a little bit of confidence to go out and perform well.
Hale: Last year, you had a big lead over Florida State early, but you let it slip away. Are you out for some revenge this time around?
Radcliff: I feel like last year, we didn't come out in the second half with the same effort we had in the first half. That hurt all our hearts knowing we were up so much and they somehow came back to defeat us. That hurt a lot, but it's a reminder we need to play all four quarters. Even if you're leading, you need to come out like it's 0-0. It's absolute effort every quarter, going out there full throttle every time. Finishing. That's our key word.