Q. Coach, we know that divisions are alive for this year, and then we move to the 3-5-5 model. Just what can you say what that model does for the ACC, and what’s your thoughts about having those permanent competitors as well as being able to play everybody twice?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: I think we got a little taste of that in 2020 when we went to basically one league. I think it’s a good thing. I’m excited about that opportunity to be able to play all the teams. In a period of time when you sign a student-athlete, they’re going to be able to see all the teams within the league. I think that’s a good thing.
I think, obviously, the tricky part is to figure out which three teams you play on a yearly basis. I think however that came out, I think everybody is satisfied with that. I think, obviously, there’s pros and cons with that. I think that’s a good thing as well.
We’re looking forward to it, excited. I like the fact that we’re going to have be able to have a champion of the two best teams that can play at the end of the season. That’s a good thing as opposed to having two different sides and maybe one side is stronger than the other. That’s going to be a positive out of it. I think just to be able to play everybody is probably the biggest benefit.
THE MODERATOR: From the podium, looking at the cumulative per quarter scoring total from last year, U of L was only outscored in the fourth quarter winning the other three. These numbers seem contradictory to a 6-7 season.
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: We were a very competitive football team within our league last year. Everybody we played and a lot of these games came down to the very end. We were on the short side of that maybe three or four times within the league. That leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
We had a lot of success throughout the year. I think offensively put up some good numbers. Defensively we were good at times. The games that we did not play well in defensive were the ones we let slip away right there at the end.
I think the big emphasis this offseason, defensively adding some players on that side of the ball as well as getting some of these guys back that we had injured last year. Monty Montgomery was a big loss for us. We lost him the third game of the season with an ACL. We lost Tre Clark there towards the middle of the season. Getting those guys back will help on that side of the ball as well. We were so close, and now the whole focus of the offseason has been how are we going to finish and finishing the drill, finishing the weight session that you have because, obviously, in football the fourth quarter is the most important quarter, and that’s the one that you have to finish.
THE MODERATOR: A change of personnel brings up a good question. You hired Stanford Samuels as your recruiting coordinator. What is it about his personality that makes him a fit for the program right now?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: I think just with his background, particularly in the state of Florida, we recruit the state of Florida hard. He has a lot of ties in that part of the country. He has been around the league. He understands what a good player looks like and what a good person looks like. Obviously, we want both.
We needed to continue to add to our recruiting department. He is going to bring a wealth of knowledge in that regard as far as being a position coach. He understands what you’re looking for as a player and particularly in the defensive back field. I think more than anything he is a good person.
We try to fill our building with good people. They’re going to be interacting with our student-athletes on a daily basis, so we want those kind of people to be around those players.
Q. Coach, you’ve been a part of different institutions as well as different conferences. Seeing the last 12 months of realignment and all this shift and now obviously the Pac as well as the Big 12, Big Ten, and SEC all being affected in some way, shape, or form, how do you view the current climate of collegiate athletics?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: Well, I think if you go back and look at throughout the whole history of conferences and schools, there’s been a lot of realignment. It seems to happen a lot. I was a part of it when I was at Appalachian State. We moved divisions and moved conferences.
I think that’s been a part of it. Here at Louisville, we’ve been in several different conferences over the years, and I think each institution is always looking to better themselves and be in a good spot.
I think the ACC is a great conference. It’s a great league. I grew up in the Raleigh-Durham area right in the heart of ACC country, and as a little kid going to football games, basketball games in the ACC and know what kind of impact it made on me. Being able to watch the TV games growing up. It’s a great conference.
We want to make this conference one of the best conferences in the country, and I think we got great leadership at the top, and they’re going to do the things and make decisions that will continue to benefit this conference.
As a coach and as a player, you don’t really look at those things. I mean, we’re focused on what we have to do on a daily basis of getting better as a football team and being a team that can win championships. That’s kind of what our focus is. I know that’s been kind of the hot topic out there is all the realignment. That’s because it’s in the news now.
Our focus is on being the best we can be here at Louisville.
Q. Coach, it’s been a good bit of news lately about the success you’ve had in recruiting. So what has changed about your strategy or approach to recruiting, especially in the south?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: Well, we’ve kind of over the last two years kind of built out our recruiting department. We didn’t have that when I first got to Louisville. We’ve been building that out.
Some of the things that’s happened here recently in recruiting has been really a two-year process and it’s just now coming to fruition. So I think a lot of things have changed over the last two years when you think about transfer portal and NIL opportunities, it’s really changed the landscape of college football.
We’ve kind of been — our people have done a great job of being kind of early with some ideas as far as that goes, and I think that’s really benefited us. We’ve also broadened our scope in recruiting and not just recruiting maybe in the Southeast. We’re nationwide, and we’re going to the West Coast, Texas. Obviously, going to Florida and right there in the Midwest. We’ve kind of just opened all the doors throughout the whole country to say we’re an easy school to get to. Our airport is three minutes away from our stadium. It’s an easy flight to come in, and the city of Louisville has a lot to offer. Great restaurants, the Bourbon Trail, Churchill Downs is right across the street. There’s a lot of great activities going on in our city. We’re bringing in the families and recruits, and they all have a great time there, and they see our football program as a program on the rise also, a program that can be one of the best in the country. That’s what we’re selling.
It’s resonating with a lot of prospects.
THE MODERATOR: Again from the podium. A great deal has been made about the upgrades to the fan experience at Cardinal Stadium for the season. How does the environment around for where you play, how does that fit into the culture for the program that you have been building?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: Yeah, obviously, you want to have a great environment to play a football game. When our stadium is full, it’s an unbelievable environment.
I go back to my very first game as a head coach at Louisville. We played Notre Dame. It was an unbelievable environment. Packed house. That’s what college is all about when you are playing college football to come and play in an environment like that.
Like I mentioned earlier, there’s so many other things that are involved with the college game-day experience Louisville, from the tailgating to the other things downtown in Louisville as well as great food, great restaurants, and the city of Louisville loves to have a good time. I think you put that all together, and it’s a great place for sporting events. It’s a great place for college football.
Q. Someone asked you before about the new scheduling model, and I wanted to ask you particularly about your primary partners and just kind of how you feel about how that shook out for your —
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: You’re talking about the three teams that we’re playing? As we were having discussions and meetings within the ACC about how they’re looking at that, I think it could kind of make sense. You have a team kind of just straight east of us. You have a team down in Atlanta and a team down in Miami, which for us I think it works out great.
We’re going to recruit the state of Georgia around Atlanta area, and we’re also going to recruit South Florida. We’ve had some of our greatest players to play at Louisville have come from the South Florida region. Now partnering with Miami to be able to go down there every other year is going to be good for us, for our coaches to be able to get out.
We’re going to be visible down there. Our brand. I think it works out really good for us of the footprint that we want to have in the recruiting aspect.
Q. I was just wondering, the hiring of Lance Taylor as your offensive coordinator, how has that impacted your offseason? What changes on offense, if any are coming?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: Lance Taylor we hired from Notre Dame. He was there for three years, and he has been a great addition to our staff. Very organized.
What he has done is come in and really — the organizational skills that he has with our offensive staff, and then our offensive unit bringing them together. A lot more of the offensive units, making the whole offense feel a part, and I think he is tremendous with that.
It gives the offense a voice I think more than anything. Lance is a great young coach. An up-and-coming coach, will be a head coach. He does a tremendous job with our team. He is fun to be around on top of all that.
He brings a wealth of experience having coached at Stanford, coached with the Panthers. Of course, at Notre Dame. A lot of great experience that he brought to the table. He will be heavily involved in our offense. He has brought some new ideas, some new things that we can do, and he is coaching our wide receivers, and I love our group in that room.
Yeah, we’re fired up to have Lance be a part of our football family.
THE MODERATOR: I know you’re a one-game-at-a-time head coach, but two league games to open of up the season. That’s a heck of an opportunity.
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: We know we’ve got a challenging schedule ahead of us. Opening up at Syracuse in the Dome, which we haven’t been; the last three years we’ve played at Cardinal Stadium. It will be the first time I’ve been up there to the Dome. We know what kind of environment that’s going to be and a good football team that’s going to be. That’s going to be huge.
You have to start off midseason form and go to Central Florida and then Florida State in the third week. Challenging schedule to start out with.
What we’re ending with is pretty challenging too, with NC State, Wake, and Clemson. We know it’s a great challenge, but, man, we’re excited about it. Fired up for this season. Glad to get this thing started. We feel like we have a really good football team. We’ll be able to compete for ACC Championship.
THE MODERATOR: You can switch places with Yasir.
Q. With Jermaine going to the next level, you are the premiere guy that will be in the back field to cause havoc. What have you worked on so far this year to build upon what was a great season last year?
YASIR ABDULLAH: What I worked on in the offseason was just my last step, getting my toe around that tackle. Just finishing, not just running past the quarterback. Just my technique.
Q. Yasir, just what do you say about overall for the defense this season where you’ve seen the most improvements and what we can anticipate from the Cardinals coming up?
YASIR ABDULLAH: Overall the secondary has gotten way better. They get together in the film room, on the weekends and actually just as a whole from the D-line to the linebackers to the secondary we just all have been coming together, working, watching film just trying to get better on the little things.
Q. Coming from Miami, Opa-Locka High School, growing up was there any Miami-bred NFL player you grew up watching and modeling your game after as a defender?
YASIR ABDULLAH: I went to Carol City.
Q. In Opa-Locka.
YASIR ABDULLAH: In Opa-Locka. A guy that I look up to, he went to Louisville himself, Elvis Dumervil he is my height, my weight. I feel like we have the same type of game coming off the edge. So I really look up to him.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned earlier this spring that the coaches were working with you to increase your vocal leadership. How has that been going? What are the tricks to be more vocal? Just sort of riff on that for a minute.
YASIR ABDULLAH: I’m not — I don’t talk a lot. When I have to, I have to. You know, just working as a vocal leader will definitely help just as — just calling plays as a defense and making the right checks and all that.
THE MODERATOR: Your teammates are smiling behind you. When you say you are vocal when you have to, when you have to, what is the have to? What does that scenario look like?
YASIR ABDULLAH: For example, if we’re down in a game, my teammates really need me just to step up and speak out and just give them some motivation to finish the game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. You’re off the hook.
Q. You just said the Elvis Dumervil was a guy that got you some of your play style from. It’s been a GIF that’s been circulating around on social media the hit that he had on Tom Brady, man. Is that something that you look at and bring that same intensity, you kind of try to lay into quarterbacks like that?
YASIR ABDULLAH: I feel like I have displayed that in the year 2020 against the Syracuse quarterback. Man, it felt the same way.
THE MODERATOR: Yasir, we can trade places with Caleb. Caleb Chandler, offensive guard. Any questions for Caleb?
Q. When you see Yasir coming at you in practice and scrimmages, what goes through your mind?
CALEB CHANDLER: A lot goes through my mind because Yasir is just a different animal. He is not just fast or strong; he is both. So it’s like you got to have a whole different mindset when Yasir is lining up across from you.
Q. Caleb, just having to have an offensive line that’s obviously gone through transition of coaches in that position, just what can you say about navigating through that, and what you’ve learned from that because I feel like you’ve learned early on that it is a business out there, and changes do come, and they do happen.
CALEB CHANDLER: I can say I’ve learned a lot. I really just try to look at it as more information and more technique and stuff. Yeah, I’ve had a few different coaches. I think I’m on, like, four now, and I have learned so much from each coach. I just try to use everything or some things that those coaches teach me.
So last summer I used different things that they teach me that I felt like that helped me the most. Yeah, I mean, I’ve had a few coaches, but I’ve learned a lot from every single one of them.
Q. For you last year especially the second half you played very well. What was something that really clicked or specifically something that changed for you to really put it together last year?
CALEB CHANDLER: Just my mindset. If I can make that extra block, go make it. If I can finish a guy on his back, do it. Don’t hold back. Just try to keep the rest of the offense protected and clean off the ground. It was really just a whole mindset for me this past season.
THE MODERATOR: From the podium, you’ve got a birthday coming up in a few weeks. You’re going to be 24 years old. Do you have the nickname “grandpa” yet from the locker room, or are they calling you “old man”?
CALEB CHANDLER: They call me “old man” around the locker room, especially when I try to get up out my seat or stuff like that. I always have a little grunt at the end of it. I’ve been called an old man for, like, the last two years. It’s nothing new to me now.
THE MODERATOR: What are you teaching the young bucks as the old man? What wisdom are you imparting to them?
CALEB CHANDLER: Just got to bring your best every day. This is like the way Coach Satterfield tells us all the time, it’s a short period time in our lives, these four to six years, so we have to bring our best and enjoy this time while we can because we’re never going to have anything like this again, unless you go to the NFL. But just this short time period with these guys, we just have to enjoy it while we can.
THE MODERATOR: Do you have a favorite birthday meal?
CALEB CHANDLER: Steak. I love steak.
THE MODERATOR: Any kind of steak.
Q. Playing with Malik, knowing he can run at any time, is that something you practice so you don’t get called for the holding, knowing that you’re blocking and then next second he is gone?
CALEB CHANDLER: Yeah. It’s exciting and challenging blocking for him because you can have a guy locked up and then you just see him take off to the left or right, and when that usually happens, I’m like, okay, Malik is on the run. So it’s, like, if I’m in good position, I’ll keep my hands on him, but if not, I just let go because I know it’s not too many people out here that’s going to catch Malik. Yeah, it’s challenging, but it’s so fun to block for him. I love it.
THE MODERATOR: Last year you graded out 90 or better throughout the season. Is it possible to improve upon that?
CALEB CHANDLER: Absolutely. I’m looking for nothing but improvement. I know as the BOBs, the offensive line, we didn’t start too hot in the first two to three games of the season, so I feel like it we just start from day one, those numbers can go up. I’m definitely expecting to make them go up.
THE MODERATOR: Is it possible for an O-lineman to grade out as a perfect game?
CALEB CHANDLER: Nah. No, it’s not. I can have zero MAs and stuff like that, but me — the second play of the game could have been a touchdown if I would have stayed on that block type stuff, so yeah, it’s kind of impossible for us to grade out perfect every game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We’ll switch places with Malik and spend the last couple of minutes with the Cardinals with our red shirt senior quarterback.
Q. Malik, my question to you had to do with Lamar Jackson, but I have to ask you this first. Did you channel Lamar’s Heisman Trophy night with the red suit?
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: You are the first person to mention that, I and thought about it. I really didn’t channel it. Two weeks ago I just walked into Men’s Warehouse, and I seen the red suit, and I was, like, yeah, I’m going with that one. I had to get some matching shoes, but the suit was easy to pick.
Q. You look at your career, and obviously, your ability and what Lamar can do as well. What did you take away from him in the time that you were around each other, and how would you describe your game moving forward?
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: I would say I took a lot from him considering the type of person he was. More just off the field, how he helped his teammates around him, made the people around him better just the type of guy he was. He always made everybody smile. That’s the biggest thing for me, is always putting a smile on my teammates’ face, the coaches’ faces, their family’s faces, their kids and the kids back home. Then my nieces and nephews and my brothers in my family. That’s the biggest thing for me. Just making everybody happy and make people smile on their face.
Q. Malik, a lot of people look at you and say, wow, this kid is an electrifying running quarterback, but what people don’t look at is you are a very efficient quarterback, having single-digit interceptions two of the last three years. Is that something that you take pride in rather than using your legs sitting in the pocket and actually being able to deliver darts around the field?
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, considering the style of play that I have, passing the ball has been very — I’ve tried to pattern my game around that because I’ve been running for a long time and just building the passing game and just being consistent for the most part and just trusting my receivers. When it’s not there, of course, I’m going to take off and run. That’s just the ability that God gave me. I can’t do nothing about that.
Q. Malik, last year so much of the questioning for you before the season was on cutting back on your turnovers, and you did that last year. What’s the next thing that you’re looking to improve upon for this season?
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: This season I for sure want ten wins for sure. Just being consistent. That’s been the biggest thing that Coach Sat has been preaching it to me and all the other coaches. Consistency has been the biggest thing for me this offseason.
Q. One thing, of course, besides the red suit that stood out me was the shoes, the Pradas. How would you maybe in one word describe your fashion?
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: I take pride in fashion. Not just being the quarterback. It’s the type of person I am. I’m big on that type of stuff. I like to feel good, play good, and look good. I feel like I look good. I’m sure a lot of y’all do too.
Yeah, the shoes definitely makes the fit, and it was a no-brainer. I had to get these.
Q. For you, who are some people that have really influenced you and people that you keep in that inner circle when you head into a season like this?
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: Definitely my mother. She’s a very hard-working woman. She’s been teaching second grade for 15-plus years.
Also my little brother. He actually played — he actually played at my high school, and he broke his wrist, and he couldn’t play anymore. I try to live his dreams through me, so he is kind of like my role model.
Just to see him happy, keep a smile on his face, he and my little sister, that’s the biggest thing for me.
THE MODERATOR: From the podium, a bit of a follow-up question to an earlier question: In a pressure situation would you rather run or throw?
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: Pass.
THE MODERATOR: You want to inhale and think about that for a moment?
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: No.
THE MODERATOR: Why did you say it so quickly? Why pass?
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: The team is going to look for me to run. They look for me to pass too but I just feel more comfortable passing it.
Q. He kind of took the question right out of my mouth, but I was going to ask you, you are known for being a running quarterback, but what are you looking to most be remembered by at Louisville when you leave?
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: Just to be — I don’t know how many quarterbacks won the ACC Championship. Zero quarterbacks. So I want to be the first to win the ACC Championship.
THE MODERATOR: A bit of an odd question from the podium: In a tweet a couple of weeks ago we saw a photo of you playing cornhole last month.
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Does cornhole help your game out at all in any way, shape, or form?
MALIK CUNNINGHAM: Not at all, but there is one person that I do want to beat at cornhole. He is to the left of me. He is at the bottom of the podium, and before I leave, I’ve got to beat him in cornhole.
THE MODERATOR: Good luck with that. Thanks a ton. Good luck this season, and we’ll see you soon. Thank you.