Scott Satterfield, Russ Yeast, Marlon Character, Micale Cunningham, CJ Avery, and Javian Hawkins all spoke to the media after the game.
They discussed the win, half time adjustments, and the game plan, among other topics.
Check out the transcipts below.
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT:
Virginia at Louisville
October 26, 2019 | Cardinal Stadium
Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield
“Okay, another exciting game for us in the ACC. We’ve won three ACC games that’ve all come down to the last plays. This one’s no different. We always like to make it interesting, I guess. We’re sponsors of the ACC Network. Trying to help those guys out a little bit. First of all, I just want to thank our fans that came out today. We all saw the storm kind of brewing in the build-up to this game, knowing that it was probably going rain. It ended up holding off for most of the day until right there at the end when we really needed some rain. But really thankful for our fans that showed up. They were loud, they were into it all the way until the end there, and I’m really thankful for that. Really proud of our guys. Just proud of our team, how they continue to fight. They continue to play for each other and play together. And sometimes things just don’t go right. In the second quarter, we’re backed up on the minus 10 it felt like the whole quarter. Never could get out of there. Nobody hung their heads. We came in down seven at halftime, and had a good game plan coming back out in the second half. I thought our defense played their best game they’ve played this year. Guys were flying all over the place. We knew we had to contain [Bryce] Perkins. He’s an outstanding player. They did a good job with that for the most part and created a turnover when they were driving to score. So just a great job by Coach Brown, our defensive staff, and then our players throughout the whole week with how they took that game plan and really gelled great together with that. It takes all three phases. Mason King’s punt down to the one-yard line. Tremendous punt coverage by our guys. And then the offense there in the second half of really running out that clock and getting another touchdown that really sealed the game –w e went up two scores right there. We were pumped to get the win. It’s hard to win football games, and to have three wins in the ACC is incredible.”
(Coach, in the first half when you decided to go ahead and pull Micale and put in Evan Conley, what was your thought process with that?)
“We’ve done it every game. This game was not any different. Probably a little unfair for Evan to get put in when we’re backed up the whole second quarter. You really couldn’t do anything offensively, because you don’t want to chance it too much when you’re backed up like that. So probably could put him at a disadvantage with it. Malik played well, coming back out in the second half. Malik’s playing well, you just leave him in there. So, there’s no agenda as far as who’s playing. We’re trying to play both of them because we think both of them can help us win. And they have. We’ll play the guy who we think can help us win moving forward.”
(Earlier in the week you said that neither one of them had really done something that kind of separated themselves to make it to where one guy is going play. Has Micale done that at this point now do you think?)
“I don’t know that it’s a big separation. There are so many things that, to the naked eye, they don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes and how we practice and how we go out there and play and what play we got called and did we execute it or not. Sometimes, we don’t execute them right, but sometimes they work. We want all our guys to play mistake-free and to play well. But I thought he played great, Malik. The thing that was negative was that we held the ball and got sacked a few times. That’s been plaguing us all year, just holding the ball back there. Once you get over about three seconds, you’ve got to get rid of the football. Particularly on two drives, when we’re in field goal range, we get sacked on third down, it knocks us out of field goal range. Two times. In tight ballgames, you’ve got to throw the ball away. Again, we will learn from it, and try to continue to grow.”
(What adjustments did you guys make in the second half?)
“We made some adjustments in the running game. Particularly in just the formations. We ran some of our same plays, but the way we lined up in certain formations was a little bit different. And we hit a few of those plays in the second half and got in a rhythm. If we can get in a rhythm and keep them on their toes a little bit, we feel like we’re in a great spot. And Hawkins was running hard. He hit a few of those up-the-middle plays, because they were really running for our stretch plays. And then we were able to hit right up in the middle, and that’s what I want at the safety. He does a good job making those guys miss. Hawkins, another great game for him. Ran hard in the second half. But we knew we had to run the football. We knew they were a good defense. I think they were the 11th-rated defense in the country coming in. But as long as our defense was playing like that, we felt like we had a great chance, to continue to stay in the game plan. You don’t have to alter your game plan because your defense is playing good.”
(What makes this team so capable of winning close games in the ACC?)
“Number one, I don’t think we’re good enough to go and blow teams out. We have to fight and claw for everything we get. That’s why every yard we get, we’re not sliding, we’re trying to get it. That’s the way we are offensively. And then defensively, again, Coach Brown is trying to call the right defense for every scenario. You almost feel like you’ve got to make the right call every single time in order to give our kids the best chance to win football games. We’re a scrappy bunch. We’re playing for each other and sometimes you’re going to win games like this. Believe me, I would much rather win by three touchdowns… that would be awesome. We’re trying. But the way the games go, sometimes the flow of the game determines decisions that are made throughout the game. It’s just the way it’s been going for us. We’re playing some good teams. These guys have a great coaching staff over there and they’ve built that team. That’s a huge win for us. We’ve got a lot of respect for that team right there. That team’s picked to win their side of the ACC and coming into this game, they were still picked to win their side of the ACC. You take a look at Clemson who is a little bit better than everybody else and then you look at the rest of the ACC and it is chaos. Anybody can win. It comes down to the team that has the best preparation throughout the week and whose guys show up on game day.”
(On Chandler Jones’ interception, how big was that in terms of momentum?)
“That was huge. Think about last week when Clemson hit that touchdown. It was a one-touchdown game going into the halftime and they throw it up to the back of the end zone. The same scenario could have unfolded today and Chandler with the huge pick. We were able to get it back and really just get going into halftime. That was a great momentum-getter for us. Right before halftime and right after halftime are two huge momentum spots in games where if you can create positive plays for yourself then you give yourself an opportunity to win. So that was a huge pick. The ball was a little bit high there so that was a great interception on his part.”
(On the fourth quarter defense)
“That was huge right there. In the fourth quarter we hadn’t been playing great, giving up a lot of points in the fourth quarter the last two weeks – 28 at Wake Forest, 21 against Clemson. Today we gave up seven which is unfortunate. They hit two fourth-down plays on that last drive – incredible throw and catch really on the second one. We’ve got to win those fourth quarters. If you win those fourth quarters then you’ve got an opportunity to win the game. We won it today. We were 14-7 in the fourth quarter, we won by seven. Fourth quarters are huge and how we finish is huge. We talk about it all the time, about how you’re going to finish. In life, and in football. We were talking about it in the locker room at halftime how we had to go finish and we were able to do that.”
(On Javian Hawkins’ running in the last touchdown)
“That was a huge drive. We needed that. We were up seven, the clock’s running down. We got the ball back, I think it was five and half minutes or something like that. When the four-minute offense comes into play, you want to melt the clock. Well, the first play we took a shot. One-on-one with Dez outside we get a PI called, so we get 15 yards. From that point forward we’re just trying to get that clock going and get yards. What ends up happening is you get a play and you get momentum. And the offensive line starts feeling it. And the back starts feeling it. And the next thing you know, you’re taking off chunk plays and you end up getting down there. And you’re melting clock, but you’re also getting first downs. And then we’re able to score touchdowns. And then you just feel good about it. To me, that’s how you win championships. In four quarters and you take a drive and you go down and you run the football – and guess what – they know you’re going to run it. They knew we were going to run it and you’re still able to do that 11th-ranked defense in the country – that’s impressive for our offense and I’m so proud of those guys up front, our tight ends, the receivers, the running backs… all those guys just buying in to what we’re doing offensively. And forcing their will is what it comes down to. And you score and you’re going to celebrate. You’ve got to celebrate those moments when everything you’re working for happens. That’s why we do this. That’s the fun. We’re going to celebrate those.”
(On going for it at fourth and 14 in the first half)
“Well, we took a sack, number one, so we were in field goal range. I think we were on the 36, 35 maybe? I think that was going to be a 53-yard field goal. So, thinking about kicking it, trying it, but then I didn’t know if we could do that so let’s just go for it. We had our guys out there and we called a vertical route and we’re thinking we’ll throw it up to Dez (Fitzpatrick) on the outside, the safety rolled over and we ended up taking another sack. On fourth down you want to throw the football and at least give our guys the opportunity because you may get a pass interference. It’s kind of that no man’s land. You’re on the 35-yard line and I wish it was fourth and four or five I would have felt a lot better. But when it’s fourth and 13 it’s a little hard to get that. But I also felt good about our defense. They were playing well. So you go for it and if put the ball down, the defense is going to stop them.
(What does Micale Cunningham have to do to really create that separation at quarterback?)
“In our minds, they’re both playing solid football. Evan (Conley) was the ACC Quarterback of the Week against Wake Forest a week or two ago. They both can play. I love both of them. They’re both probably going to play here in the next month. You’ll probably ask that question again. At our quarterback position, we’re going to play the guy that we think, at that point in time, is going to give us the best chance to win football games. First downs and touchdowns – that’s the bottom line.”
(On Javian Hawkins’ game)
“We get a bye week next week so we can give him a few more carries. He can rest this coming week. We would love to. In a perfect world he gets 20 carries and Hassan (Hall) gets 15 carries, I have said that before. That would be a perfect world. Hassan is still a bit dinged up from last week. I was just happy he played tonight. I think he had four carries tonight. Usually if you take those 28 carries and knock off eight of them, then he’s at 20 and Hassan is going to be right there where we need to be. But he’s a workhorse. Hawkins loves it. Like that last drive. He was feeling it. As a running back, sometimes you just get in those groves and they just start feeling it. They start seeing it. They start running like a horse and he was tonight. I’m so proud of him. He’s a guy who never says a word. Just comes to work every day. He’s strong. He’s not real big, he’s 185, 190 pounds. But he runs like he’s a 210 pound back and he’s hard to tackle.”
(Obviously next week is a bye week, but the next win you guys get makes you bowl eligible. Will that come up at all)
“It’s the elephant in the room. We all know it and we will probably mention that this week. We all know it. But, I’m also telling them that you don’t focus on bowl eligibility. You focus on our next opponent. On who we play. You focus on Miami. Next week, that’s all we’re focused on – Miami — and then the next week we go and play them. You go to try and beat Miami. You don’t go to try and get bowl eligible because if you focus on that you’re not going to get it. Any one of these teams can beat us that we play. We have to focus everything that we have on Miami and you hope at the end of the season that what you’ve done is good enough to warrant a nice bowl.
(On Blanton Creque’s status)
“We don’t know yet. We’ll find out tomorrow.”
Virginia vs. Louisville
Oct. 26, 2019 | Cardinal Stadium
(About the win) Russ Yeast Jr., DB: “I think this game right here gave us confidence. Now we have to get rested and get ready for the rest of the season. We have struggled with finishing games on the defensive side. We played pretty good at times and we played pretty bad at times. We need to figure out a way to put it all together. “
(About getting first downs) Javian Hawkins, RS-Fr., RB: “We have to trust in each other. I know if I trust my brother and he trusts me, we are going to be straight at the end of the drive and that is what happened.
(About beating teams that beat the Cardinals last year) Micale Cunningham, R-So., QB: We have more fight (this year) and more leadership obviously. We know those guys beat us last year so it was like there was a chip on our shoulders and going into this game we knew we had a point to prove to win this game.
Russ Yeast Jr., DB: I think this team is much better at dealing with adversity. We play for each other.
Javian Hawkins, RS-Fr., RB: There is a lot of love in the game.
About the talk in the lockerroom regarding adjustments: Micale Cunningham, R-So., QB: We needed to stay the course and run the ball because the wind was starting to get bad. We would have to establish the running game in order for them to come up so we could hit some shots down the field.”
(About finding a way to win down the stretch) Micale Cunningham, R-So., QB: This goes back to the summer when Coach was putting it on us every day. We were wondering why we were doing this or doing that and now we know it was for games like this.
Russ Yeast, Jr., DB: Coach told us coming into the season that every game we get there is going to be a dogfight. So we already knew what was going to happen.
(On defending UVA and what the game plan was) Russ Yeast Jr., DB: The game plan was really that we can’t sit back there and let them beat you. What it boils down to is that you have to play assignment football. You have to cover. You have to rush. You have to stay disciplined and you can’t let them get on top.
(About low expectations for this team) Micale Cunningham, R-So., QB: “To be honest we don’t look at that type of stuff. As a team, we just go out there and play hard. And we see the results.
(About Javian Hawkins getting in a roll) Micale Cunningham, R-So., QB: I have a ton of confidence in him and the O-Line. They did a good job of running the ball. I know that I can turn around and hand him the ball and he is going to get five or six yards a pop. That is great for our offense.
(About playing for Bryan Brown) Russ Yeast Jr., DB: “I think it was something good that we could go out there and play well for him. I think that we have played pretty decent so far this year but we have some issues and we have made some of the calls he’s made look bad. As long as we go out there and execute, he’s a great coach and we are going to try our best to execute every game.”
(About Lamar Jackson being here) Micale Cunningham, R-So., QB: “I talked to him earlier in the week so I knew he was coming. I got to spend a little time with him, not last night but the night before last. We were talking ball and just hanging out. It is big for him to come back. Anytime any player comes back, but him especially, it is pretty big, pretty big. I am a big fan of Lamar.”
(About the ability to finish today compared to other games) Russ Yeast, Jr., DB: “I would say that we were able to focus in. We knew it was going to come down for the defense to be able to win the game. The offense was struggling a little bit in the first half and they needed us to pick them up. So coming out of halftime we can’t give up. Because in the first half we gave them a lot of stuff. We had some mental issues like we tend to do and we have to stop doing that.”
(What did that first start feel like) Marlon Character, Jr., CB “It felt great. I got my feet wet a lot more than I thought I would. I kept my head in the game and made a couple plays. Our defense played great.”
(On closing out in the fourth quarter and C.J. dropped the pick) Marlon Character, Jr., CB: “Virginia is a tough team but we’re a tough team too. And C.J. he made up for it. We kept fighting til the end and down to the wire and came out on top.”
(On listening to what people say about the defense the last two weeks) Marlon Character, Jr., CB: “Like what he said (C.J.). Each week we just focus on getting better on defense, correcting the mistakes that we made. And having faith in each other and believing in each other. It’s all about us.”
(What is the difference between this year and last year) Marlon Character, Jr., CB: “I’m going to go with the coaches and say that they bring out the best in us. They make us tougher both mentally and physically. Like we just got better. We did a whole 360 from last year and we’re not the same team.”
C.J. Avery, Jr., WLB
(Difference in the second half) C.J. Avery, Jr., WLB “I think we just locked in all week in practice. Our look squad gave us a great look all week and we just went out and executed.”
(On containing Bryce Perkins) C.J. Avery, Jr., WLB “Took a lot of pride in that man. All week we said the offense runs through the quarterback. We had to contain the quarterback and make sure he didn’t get out and make plays and that’s what we did.”
(On listening to what people say about the defense the last two weeks) C.J. Avery, Jr., WLB: “No we really don’t. Because when we look at it, it’s just us. If we play for each other, we can be one of the best defenses in the country.”
(What is the difference between this year and last year) C.J. Avery, Jr., WLB: “I just think our attitude. We just come to work with a different attitude and mindset. You can see it on the field, we work hard since the new staff came and it’s all just paying off.”
(On how Marlon played) C.J. Avery, Jr., WLB: “I think he played phenomenal man. He’s a great player, he waited his turn and he got his chance. And he did what he’s suppose to do. He’s a great athlete, a great corner back. He can do whatever you ask him to do. He can play the nickel position or do whatever you want. He’s just a great player.”