Louisville football head coach Scott Satterfield reflects on the big win against #17/#19 Wake Forest on Saturday and looks ahead to next Saturday against #3 Clemson at home in Cardinal Stadium.
University of Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield
Oct. 14, 2019
Alright good afternoon everyone. Looking back on that game obviously it was a very high scoring game and felt like a long game too I know it was I don’t know what the actual time was, but it felt forever but just looking back on it you know ton of great plays. I think particularly offensively in the kicking game. guys made a lot of plays. We knew going in that Wake (Forest) has the best offense in ACC is going to be a challenge to try to slow those guys down. I thought the first half they defensively did a decent job with creating some turnovers in the second half and two in the fourth quarter. They gave up a lot of yards and points and probably got wore down a little bit in the second in the fourth quarter. They ran 102 plays so, but they obviously overall huge win for us and our program to go on the road and you know beat a ranked team and ACC maybe the first time that’s happened in the last two weeks to get back to back ACC wins actually proud of our guys. You can’t celebrate too long because you got the Tigers coming into town this weekend. So, kind of put that game to bed on Sunday and we moved on to the Tigers. So, looking forward to hopefully a great environment this weekend you know hosting Clemson.
(Does Evan Conley’s poise surprise him?)
I think that’s just kind of his makeup. I think he’s a very even keeled kind of guy to begin with. He really doesn’t never, I’ve never seen really get too excited, really emotional or anything. He just kind of stays even keel. Very cerebral player. So he’s really smart understands what we’re trying to do. Extremely hard worker. We saw that right from the start when he got here January, how hard he worked in a weight room. That was a surprise. I mean, the way he worked, becoming that weight room and just to do extra stuff, on off days, he’s there. You know, here’s a true freshman just showed up and you can tell that’s all he’s known. That’s in his DNA and he is a competitor.
(On special teams)
Keion (Wakefield) had three pancake blocks on the big return plays. Tremendous. Justin Marshall did as well. special teams are huge for us. We said this day one that, we don’t treat special team as an afterthought. We spent a lot of time on it. Coach Holt does a great job with that with the special teams and they’re a big part of what we what we want to do. I want to be a complete football team and we are in three different phases the other night. We’re really good special teams and offense and we get to the point where all three phases are clicking on all cylinders, we will be hard to beat. We want to be that football team. You know, we don’t shy away from putting starters on the on the on those teams. I mean, if you look on our kickoff return team, our top two running backs are back there in the back and they’re very productive in what they do. Tutu Atwell and Rodjay Burns returns in a punt game and we’ve had some big punt returns this year. So, we know what Mason (King) can do and Blanton (Creque) can do in the kick as far as kicking goes and so we feel that we got to win the kicking game. We feel like we have strength and we have good speed where we can put out there to cover and, and then those can be an advantage for us and it certainly wasn’t this game was huge. We got to the point where they’re not even kicking it anymore they’re trying to pop the ball up and that plays in our favor. The negative, was we lost the one ounce onside kick I’ve never seen before in a game. It’s incredible that we did lose the one and yeah the special teams have been really good for us this year and he has to continue in order for us to win.
(On what he saw in Evan when he was at App. State)
Well his film was good. I think the thing that put us over the top was when he came to our camp at App (Appalachian State) in the summertime, and we had probably had 8-10 quarterbacks who were kind of really targeted. We brought them all in on this one day, and he really out shined them all by the way he threw the football. Very catchable accurate ball, but he also had good velocity on it. You check his grades, a very smart player. You talked to us coaches, they’re like, you know, works extremely hard. So, you start checking all the boxes. We were like shoot, he was the one we already as quarterbacks that we were like, all right, we won’t you we’re giving you first dibs. Do you want to do you want to come, you know, play quarterback for us here at App? He thought about it for two days and then his parents called me and he’s like, he wants to come and do it. So, he committed to us and then once we got here, looking at our quarterback room, we said listen, we got to go find a quarterback. Well, most quarterbacks already committed at that point, including Evan. So, we called Evan and said we loved the way you play. Would you be willing to come here and he’s like, they want to come visit they came up the big question was, will you give me an opportunity to chance? Absolutely and, we give everyone a chance and I don’t care. Whether you’re a freshman or, you know, fifth year senior, whoever the best player is going to play and obviously looking back, I mean what a great find great fine for us to be able to get in there because, I mean, he’s played great in the last two games and I know we don’t have very much depth there, for sure he’s been a certainly a bright spot for our football team.
(Coach, you guys have played extremely fast the past couple of games. How concerned are you about your defense’s ability to maintain energy throughout the game. It kind of seemed like you guys ran out of gas in the fourth quarter the other night.)
I think that had a lot to do with what Wake does on offense. They’re a fast team offensively. If you go back and chart, they run a lot of plays against everybody. It’s just the way they do it. I think we had more possession. We ran 72 plays – they ran 102. That’s 30 snaps. If you just average 5 yards a play, that’s a lot of yards. That’s a whole football field and a half. That’s the difference. We’re not a tempo offense. We can go fast. I don’t want to put our defense in a bind like that. Sometimes there are teams that do put their defense in a bind, but we don’t want to do that. Defensively though, you have to stop whoever you’re playing. That’s the bottom line. You have to do whatever you can do to slow them down and stop them. 102 snaps is a lot. They’re a very good offense. They’re fourth in the country offensively at the halfway point of the season. They’re pretty good. They have good quarterback play and they have really good wide receivers.
(Besides Wake Forest, and against Boston College as well, you guys gave up a lot of yards in the last few games. Is that a huge concern for you moving forward – the amount of yards that have been given up the last couple of games? Is that a big concern for you guys the rest of the season?)
Yards are not a concern, points are. We’ve given up a lot of points the last two weeks. Wake Forest is fourth in the country in offense and BC is 17th, so really good offenses. But I don’t care about yards. You can have 800 yards, just keep them out of the end zone. We have to do a lot better job keeping guys out of the end zone. This week right here, you’re playing another very explosive offense. They’ve got speed on the outside, have one of the better running backs, obviously everyone knows about the quarterback. You have to limit those big plays that get in the endzone. I think that’s the key. We have to do better red zone defense and holding the field goals. I think their touchdowns are what’s so hard to overcome.”
(Coach, you took App down to Death Valley in 2015 to play Clemson. How are they different from then to now, and what challenges are they going to present to you guys this week?)
They’re not really a whole lot different. Obviously the players are different. Over the last four years, they’ve pretty much been the same kind of team. They’ve won 21 straight games, and that’s hard to do in college football with the parity that we do have. They played Carolina and it was a tight game there a few weeks ago. They’ve had a few slipups, but not many. They’ve won most of them, even if they didn’t play well, just because of the talent they have. They’ve done one of the best jobs recruiting out there in the country the last two or three years. They have some outstanding talent. They’re a little younger out front maybe this year defensively compared to last year without all those d-linemen who went to the League. But then you look offensively with the studs – the wide receiver, the quarterback. They just a lot of talent all over the place. Most teams you play will have a few here and there, but they seem like in every position they have some of the better players, which makes it difficult.
(You’re at the halfway point of the season. What’s given you the most satisfaction so far, and what do you feel like going forward you’d most like to see your team improve at?)
I think the biggest thing is the way we’ve been able to move the football. We’re top-10 in explosive plays when you look at plays that are plus-30, plus-40, plus-50. That’s been good, some big plays. Coming in, we thought we had some good receivers and running backs, which I thought was going to be a plus for us. I’m pleased with the way our offensive line has come around, which has been a plus. We have to get better defensively. I think that’s the biggest thing. Here’s what’s going to happen to us these next six games: we’re playing some of the top defenses in our league coming up. You have Clemson, Virginia, Miami, NC State – all these guys have really good defenses. You’re probably not going to be able to score 62 points, 45 points. It’s hard to outscore these top teams that we’re getting ready to play because of how well their defense plays, so your defense has to play a lot better. We’ve got to improve on that side of the ball – keeping them out of the endzone, making them drive the ball – in order to win some games the second half of the season. That would be the key.
(Scott, what’s the health status of Michale [Cunningham], and has Evan [Conley] done enough to become your starting quarterback?)
Both of those guys have played really well. Whenever Malik has been out there, he’s played great the last two weeks. He’s gotten dinged up a couple times and had to come out and Evan’s come in and played great as well. I’ll say what I’ve always said, that whoever’s the healthiest and gives us the best chance, that’s who we’ll play. Both of those guys have played good. We’ve moved the football, had some good plays, taken care of the ball for the most part. Both can run, and we saw that with Evan the last run he had to score. We’ll play the guy who’s the healthiest. That’s probably been the biggest question. I hate injuries, but that’s part of the game. Whoever’s the most healthiest, that’s who will play.
(Coach, looking at this game with Clemson. Let’s hear, in terms of your motivational speeches, do you have to bring up last year at all to any of these guys? Or do you just move forward and just focus?)
No, we don’t talk about anything from last year. Since day one, we’ve just moved forward. We are who we are right now. We’re just going to do the best we can today and tomorrow and so on and so forth. We just get out there and have a great game plan that we try to go execute, and see what happens. It has nothing to do with last year. It’s two totally different teams. They’re different, we’re different, so we don’t even mention it.
(The idea that you have exceeded expectations with largely the same cast, is there anything schematic, physique wise, technique or in terms of physical development or is it just culture change and a toxic atmosphere gone?)
I think it is a lot of how we have done things over the last 10 months in terms of trying to be consistent and holding each other accountable. That is probably the biggest change that I have seen is the accountability we have had within our team. It’s the little things, showing up every day, showing up on time, for study hall, or class, or weights, or treatment, practice, breakfast and lunch, all these little things. If you start doing things right, they you start doing them right on the football field. Within our DNA we want to be a competitive team and this is every single day in what we want to do in the weight room or on the field., We want to compete at it, If you start doing that every day, then you expect to win. So, this then translates onto the football field and I hope that this is what we have been able to do. Scheme wise, I didn’t look at anything in the past and we just do what we do. Fortunately, we have been able to have some success and score some points and I think that is why we are sitting where we are. A lot of it has with guys coming into the building wanting to be here every single day.
(As part of that, as you start to win some conference games are you getting more buy-in is that picking up in any way?)
I think the guys are getting more confidence. The Boston College win was huge, first ACC win in a long time, and you can just feel it. The pep in everyone’s step is a little better and they just get a little bit of confidence to know ‘hey we can play with these guys. Then this last week you go on the road and beat a ranked team, these guys came back yesterday excited to be back here and feel like they are playing for something. Just that confidence to know that you can compete is pry more so than anything when your eager to get back in here to get the game plan. I always say to our guys on Tuesday, we can get back and start meeting again. When they are excited, to get back and see the film and look at the game plan, that’s fun. Its fun for our guys, its fun four our staff, a lot of times 18-22 year old’s they don’t want to go to practice, but these guys are excited they want to go out there and execute the plan on Tuesday Wednesday Thursday practice because then they will be successful on gameday and they are starting to do that. That part is what has been neat.
(You mentioned the UNC Clemson game, Clemson undefeated but they have looked beatable in moments this year, so what can you take from those games and what is it going to tale to beat them this year?)
Yeah, except for this past weekend. I was just watching that film and it was 42-0 in the third quarter, I was like ‘wow, man, they turned it on’. I think when they had that off-week they got back on track. Everyone is talking about what is this Clemson team, but they have won 21 straight games, I think 14 out of their last 15 they have won buy more than 14 points. It’s unbelievable that people want to try to write a story about this isn’t the Clemson team we are used to. These guys are good, they are well coached, they expect to win, and they have a lot of talent. Again, 18-22-year-old guys they went into chapel hill maybe a little flat maybe give some credit to North Carolina, maybe they had a great defensive plan gave them some confusion and next thing you know your sitting there in the second half of a tight ball game. That’s how you end up beating a team, like Clemson though. You hang close and around and next thing you know it’s the fourth quarter your trying to go for a win. They go for two and don’t get it, but they were really close and it just shows you that you have to show up each and every week and it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you could get beat by them. Our guys see that and hopefully if we go out and execute, we have the opportunity to hang in the game and win.
(Dez is probably one of the hottest receivers in the ACC right now with three straight 100 yard receiving games and he talked about being a more complete receiver but outside his blocking what do you see that stands out the most for him?)
It’s a combination of his size and he does have speed. That combination is hard to defend. For a corner out there, he can kind of overmatch some of those corners with his size and then his speed to get away from them and that’s two things that have helped him in a great run here. We’re going to try to find ways to get him the football more in space where he can make some moves and use his strength to break tackles. I love the way he blocks and right now he is a complete receiver, I love the way he is playing, and he is doing exactly what we are asking him to do. He has been able to do it. We got a holding penalty on one of those great catches which was unfortunate, but I love sitting back and just watching him. I got a great view right there on the sidelines for those plans. Hopefully he will continue to finish out this season and end with a great year. He is fun to be around on and off the field, the practice and he is exactly what you want in a wide receiver.
(When people talk about Clemson obviously Trevor Lawrence comes up but what about their line and running game is so well?)
They keep a lot of pressure on you because obviously the quarterback can run and when you do that you have to have someone keep an eye on him and their running backs maybe have a little but more of lanes to run when you do that but they also have those stud wide receivers too. So when you put all that together it makes it a difficult offense to defend, and then their number one running back, he is a complete running back. He ahs the speed if he breaks the line of scrimmage, he can take it all the way to the endzone, so he is a sprint champion coming out of high school and he has proven that he is one of the better backs in the country. That’s a difficult offense to stop.
(Talking about Trevor Lawrence and the offensive line that makes them so good)
“They keep a lot of pressure on you. The quarterback can run also so you have to have someone defending him to prevent that. So when you do that, the running back lanes have a bit more room to run because you’re defending the quarterback pass. But also, they have those stud wide receivers too. So when you have all of that, it makes it a really tough offense to defend. Etienne (Travis Etienne) is a guy who has the speed that if he breaks the line of scrimmage can take it the distance. He’s a complete running back. He’s a sprint champion coming out of high school. He’s proven he’s one of the better backs coming out of the country. That’s a difficult offense to stop, that’s for sure.”
(What have your running backs done that have allowed you to expand your offense)
“We have some explosive guys. When you look and see what both of those guys have been able to do. They’re not huge but they get one little crease then they are able to make plays. Hawkins didn’t have a great game, but he had some really good runs. He made some guys miss in the hole. He’s able to bounce it outside and make some big plays. It all starts up front though. I think that’s the key, having those offensive linemen trying to get those blocks. I thought Wake did a good job of stopping our run game at times on Saturday night. But it allowed our quarterbacks to run also. Our quarterbacks had over 120 rushing in that game between the two. You can’t stop it all, is the thing. If you’re going to stop one part of the offense then something else should be able to have a lot of yards. That’s how we want our offense to be. If you’re shutting down the run game, then we should be able to throw it or vise versa. We have enough weapons, if you look at our wide receivers, tight ends, running backs, and then what our quarterbacks can do. There are enough weapons to where they can’t just dial in on one thing. There are multiple things offensively that move the ball.”
(Outside the program people think you have exceeded expectations, what’s the view inside the program)
“We don’t worry about it. We’re taking it day by day to do the best we can. We want to win every game we play. We’re disappointed about those loses. So we’re just taking it day by day to do the best that we can do and we just hope that at the end of the season we have done enough to warrant a good season. I think I said that at the beginning of the season. My expectations for this season were for us to go out and play hard and put a competitive product on the field. Whatever that is at the end of the year, I hope we have been able to do that. I will say, if you’re looking at a midpoint break. We have been able to do that. We’ve been competitive in our games and we have played very hard. This past game, I mentioned this after the B.C. game, we were charting effort and strain and all of that. This was our best game. This was the hardest our kids have played all year this past week. That was nice to see and what we hope to continue to see moving forward.”
(Have you looked at any film on Clemson and how they’ve changed from this year to last)
“No, I haven’t looked at any film of them from last year. I can’t speak to the question. When we got here, we were cleaning the slate. Wherever you are now, we will build from it from where you are right now. This was why I took some time from spring, summer, and fall camp to find where our guys could best play. For example, a guy like Robert Hicks. Where can he best play. That was our deal, just looking at guys and trying to figure out where they can best help us play and find roles for everyone to make our team a better team. I think right now we have kinda settled into that. I can’t really compare in the past.”
(On the clip of Coach Ivey with the bloody nose of him getting everyone hyped up.)
“It’s a pre game, I don’t know what you wanna call it, ritual. Coach Ivey has been doing that his whole coaching career. He’s down there with his defensive line and getting those guys going and getting them hyped up pre game. He just happened to get hit in the lip and got some blood on that one. He doesn’t have a helmet on. He’s just an interactive and passionate about what he does. Coach Ledford is the same way. He is getting those offensive linemen fired up. It’s a different world when you put your hand down on the ground. Offensive or defensive line. That little area right there is a different world. You got to be a different kind of guy to put your head down on the ground. Coach Ivey played d-line, coach Ledford played nfl on the offensive line and they understand that world. If you talk to defensive or offensive linemen they will tell you the same thing. Coach Ledford always jokes with me, did you ever put your hand in the dirt? Well, no I was a quarterback. All these guys, they are living that life. But it’s a different world. But they are just trying to get there guys fired up and ready to play. Everybody is different in how they do that. That’s just the way they do it. Sometimes you have to have some casualties out there as far as some injuries go. It’s because they care about there guys and they want to get the most out of them and have fun with it.”
(On when coach felt that they had better talent here than what was perceived at the start of the year on the goal of Vince Tyra to make a bowl game)
“Well I hadn’t really looked at that. Of course that’s a goal you want to have. But you don’t ever talk about it in the building. We just focus on our opponent and hope it’s going to be good enough at the end of the season. I realized during the first half of the Notre Dame game that once you go out. Cause I had no idea what to expect. Hadn’t played a game yet, you just practiced and you don’t know. I thought during halftime of Notre Dame that, man we got some guys out here that are going to go out there and compete and fight. That will play for each, and all of the things that we talk about. We didn’t finish the game the way we liked, the Notre Dame game, but then we came back the next week against an EKU team and get the big shutout win. We’ve been able to get better and better. But in that first half I said, okay we got something to work with here. For me as a coach, because that was the big unknown, and I think we’ve proven ourselves. It hasn’t been pretty at times. We’ve given up points. Left some plays out on the field. But our overall body of work has been competitive and solid. Our kids have played hard and it’s been fun to watch. That’s all we can ask for out of these guys and hopefully it will continue to trend towards wins in the second half.”