Football Presser: Scott Satterfield 11-25-19 (Transcript)

Louisville Coach Scott Satterfield met with the media for his weekly presser. He reviews Louisville’s win against Syracuse, the injury sustained by starting S Russ Yeast, and the upcoming matchup with Kentucky, among other topics.

Check out the full transcript from Louisville Athletics below.

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT:

University of Louisville Head Coach
Scott Satterfield
Nov. 25, 2019

(Opening Statement)

“All right, good afternoon. You know it is an exciting week.  We have our big rival game this week versus Kentucky we’re looking forward to that and excited about that. Going back this past weekend and going back and looking at that offensively, one of our better offensive outputs on a season. I think our guys did some big time plays in the passing game and really establish the run this past week really proud of that. Defensively, not a great effort on that side of the ball. Didn’t tackle well, didn’t fit well, but we our guys rose up when I needed to particular in the fourth quarter with two big four down stops. I think obviously preserve the game for us but, you know, I think I am proud of the fact that of how we battled in ACC play, looking back on it you know five and three record. You know, it wasn’t picked anywhere near that but glad and why the guys performed this year with that and we got a lot of things we can grow, grow from and continue to develop and continue to get better.  So, we’re again looking forward to this week.”

(On the missed tackles from Saturday’s game and how disappointing with it being at this point of the season and having those mistakes)

“Yeah, I mean it’s disappointing.  The missed tackles, no question about it was you know we didn’t fit particularly well either in the run game I think that was another thing that was disappointing.  Guys getting out of their gaps and they’re there guys able to get some rushing yards. Moe Neal is a good back. He runs hard, but when you’re not fitting right it’s pretty easy to have you know to get some big some big yards there but a lot but then also guys, when we didn’t fit right we didn’t make the tackle we got we got guys right there at the point of attack they got to get they got to get them down and we were not able to do that and we got to get better, we have to continue to have to work on that work on tackling and get better at that aspect.”

(On stopping the run against Kentucky)

“Absolutely it’s outstanding running rushing football team that we’re getting ready to play here with some good backs.  Obviously, the more the better athletes will face.  The one that’s playing quarterback now. He’s an outstanding athlete. It’s been pretty amazing to see.  You tell you guys been at wide receiver and put him at quarterback and there’s still been very effective moving the football. The way they’re doing it playing good defense controlling the clock. You know just old school, running the football and you know it’s produced them some good wins and what they did the last couple weeks in particularly you know really you know not throwing the football very much at all but teams know that and still can’t stop it. That’s pretty impressive.”

(Who was your rival at App State and what have you learned about the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry?)

We were there, Georgia Southern was a big rival team.  We made the jump together.  I think we first started playing in 93 and so, over the years, and I think, then we were competing for championships, and we made a jump into the Sun Belt and they won the Sun Belt and of course then we won some so it was already always seemed like whoever won that game had an opportunity to win the championship so that was a big rivalry game for us and then you know since, since being here, I think that was pretty early on indicated that we needed to win that game against Kentucky. I mean, you know obviously we’re in the state of Kentucky and the two big schools in this state, competing and I don’t care what you’re playing probably.  My first game was at the Yum! back in December when Kentucky came over to play basketball.  It was a big-time atmosphere. It was awesome and then I’ve met a lot of people that have come up to me to say, I’m a Kentucky fan but you know we like what you’re doing here at Louisville until we play you.  Then we won’t like you, but yeah so it’s been an interesting over the last you know 10-11 months to see how much passion, there is between the two schools and obviously it is great competition.”

(Injury update on Rust Yeast)

“He’s doing fine now. He hurt it hurt his leg there and a couple different things with it, but he will be out, he’ll be out this week and actually, had a procedure done yesterday. So he’s in recovery now.”

(How much can the defense improve this week?)

“Yeah, I don’t think you’re going to make a ton of improvement in the course of a week.  We have to just do some things as coaches.  What can we do to help our guys and put them in better positions to make plays. We better be where we need to be as far as gap integrity versus these guys. They’re certainly make you pay. If you don’t, they’re going to put pressure on you know obviously we got to have everybody available there to make tackles around the running the running game. What that’s going to do is put obviously more pressure on only our outside guys because you’re probably going to be a little bit more one on one matchups on the outside, just because you’re trying to defend the run, but it comes back to fundamentally, sinking your hips and wrapping up and holding on tight you know until the other guys can get there to get these guys down so, but you know we’ll emphasize it again this week and you know hopefully you guys will do a better job when we come out on Saturday.”

(Dez Fitzpatrick tweeted out that he was signing off social media for the week. Is that something you’d ever enforcer where you allow your players to kind of make their own decision on that?)

“No, we just talked about it on Sunday, you know, that they can be on social media, we don’t we don’t want to get involved in any kind of, you know, chatter back and forth out, social media, that’s not going to help us win the things we talked about on Sunday is what can we do to help us win this football game and, you know, I think it’s in your preparation is focusing on what you got to do on a daily basis. Getting ready and practice watching film, all those things that chatter on social media doesn’t help you win any football games. There’s nothing about it that will help you win some we don’t need to know what I think that’s where that came from.”

(We look at Kentucky’s defense what kind of challenges, do they present your offense?)

Yeah. Well, number one, big upfront. A lot of length. The first thing that stands out when you look at their front seven. Their three four defenses. So, their three linemen up front are all tall, long and heavy, big bodies, and then before their linebackers are all over to 220. So, they have a lot of size up front. They’ve done a great job, one of the better pass defense teams in the country, and I think they’re ranked 10th. They do a really good job of keeping everything in front of them, they haven’t given up very many big plays, and we all know what that’s one thing we’ve been able to do offensively is get a lot of big plays but they limited everybody in that realm.  They do a good job of, getting their safety’s and their corners back and then their linebackers are where they’re supposed to be in their drops, and I think it makes it hard. You must really earn your yards in the throw game. And then they’re length presents problems up front, their length and their size in the run game so you know we’re coming up with our game plan now. But it makes it difficult to find ways to be able to move the football. One thing that’s been very impressive is the fact that no one has scored over 30 points, in a long time, maybe a year and a half. Florida this year had the most points, that was 29, and, Florida had been a rally in the fourth quarter to go win that game. They were down, couple of touchdowns, heading into the fourth quarter so their defense presents a lot of problems and what they’re doing running the football.  That’s why they’ve been effective this year.”

(They have been one-dimensional, what are the challenges in stopping their running game, so you don’t have to worry about their passing game?)

They’re utilizing essentially the Q run. It is essentially one extra gap that you must and anytime that happens if you just have a running back and the quarterbacks not a threat running the football then you can really sell out wherever the running back goes. But now what they’re doing is kind of splitting the defense in half. The running back goes one way then the quarterback goes the other and you must have guys on both sides. So, it creates more gaps that you must defend and then there’s a little bit more space, and they’re good enough athletes to make you miss in space. All the while, they do keep you honest in the throw game. They don’t throw it much but they do keep you honest with a lot of vertical routes and so you must have make sure you have your guys covering their receivers. That’s what presents the problems and their such good athletes at those running positions.

(Early on you were positive about Hassan Hall and by fall Javion Hawkins is the starter, and he has had a record setting season. What is it about him that fits what you guys do running the ball?)

“Well, he just got a knack for finding those holes within our zone scheme. And then he’s a powerful runner you know we’ve mentioned that he’s not very big but he’s a very strong compact back. He always runs with a chip on his shoulder, several of those runs the other night, he broke tackles where he spun off guys. One, that big long touchdown run, about a 50-yard run, they kind of had him hemmed up and he just refused to go down. He gets opportunities, I think that’s the other thing. We know that we’re going to get him the ball and all our backs are going to going to carry the football, and when they get an opportunity, they got to make the most of it. But I tell you the other good thing is the guys up front block well, tight ends block well, and receivers too. There are so many of these long runs where you go, and you look at our receivers and Dez Fitzpatrick is downfield blocking or Seth Dawkins. On Hawkins big run Tyler Haycraft is 30 yards down the field and pinning a safety. I mean those type of blocks is incredible, and they spring, those big runs. Those big long touchdown runs. I thought in the second half Hawkins just did a great job. We were committed to run the football for a second half and try to keep their offense off the field. We were able to turn out those kinds of those kind of yards and particularly that last drive. The 94-yard drive that we had with six and half minutes on the clock. That was huge. We melted maybe five and a half minutes, and he did the bulk of the damage on the drive.”

(When you look back to February, and the group of backs that you had could you imagine these guys having those kinds of seasons as a whole?)

“We thought that those two guys, Hall and Hawkins, would probably be our two guys. They were the most explosive backs we had. We had some size and we have some other backs that were bigger, but those guys were explosive. Coming into the fall we thought Hasaan would be the guy and he gets dinged up a little bit. Then Hawkins kind of plays a little bit better and we knew we had both. It was going to take both them also this year. It just so happens that Hawkins has had kind of just a great year and turned it on right from the start in that Notre Dame game with over 100 yards, in that first game. At that point we felt like, we’ve got something there in Hawkins and he’s kind of shown that to be true. He had a breakout game this past weekend. Now he’s sitting there close to 1300 yards, with maybe a couple more games to go. So, he’s had a special year no question about it. Particularly for freshmen a really special year, but really overall, I’m paying for just any running back to have a special year. And we’ve kind of leaned on that. And then we lean on a big play, you put those two together and it’s been a great combination I think we’re sitting here at number two in the ACC in scoring offense and I don’t think anybody would have thought that starting this year.”

(You just mentioned the big play and talked about how big they are up front. How important is it for you to take the top off and get some of those big pass plays down the field?)

“It’s going to have to be calculated because of the fact of how they get back and don’t give you anything back there. We have to try to find some ways to make that happen. We do need to do it and try to back them up a little bit so we can obviously get that running game going. That’s going to be the challenge and the cat-and-mouse game as we go forward in this game.”

(Throughout the spring and fall camp, there was the discussion of who’s going to be the starting quarterback. Micale [Cunningham] has become one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country. Talk about his progression from day one to now.)

“It’s interesting because he got hurt day three of camp, so you don’t even have him all of August. You get 25 practices before your first game, and he doesn’t get any of those, which is bad. We’re one of those teams who competes between Puma [Pass] and Cummingham. So, then you have Puma and Evan [Conley], a freshman, they’re trying to compete too. You didn’t have Cunningham back until EKU, but he still wasn’t fully healthy. Then Puma goes down, so now Cunningham has to go. It’s learn-on-the-job training for him. Once he got in there he played well, but then he was inconsistent and made some mistakes. Then Evan gets in and makes some good plays so you play both of them. Over the last few weeks, he has settled in and has a good feel for what we’re trying to do offensively. The last two games were incredible back-to-back games with what he was able to accomplish. Six touchdowns this weekend, four touchdown passes the week prior. He’s settled in and has played well. I’m proud of him and the way he has developed because early on he was inconsistent. The one thing about it, which has been surprising for me, is how accurate he is. He’s an accurate passer and throws one of the better deep balls out of anybody out there. If you go back and look at some of these throws, for me it started out at Western Kentucky. He threw a post-route to Tutu [Atwell] on the post, and he wasn’t open when he threw it, but he put some air under it and he was able to go get it. He had another one on Saturday that was the same way. The defender’s behind Tutu, and he lobs it out there and he goes and gets it. Those are not easy throws. It was a great touch ball that you have to put the right arch on and throw it in the right spot so our guy can go get it. He has done very well in that regard and I’m really proud of the way he’s playing. I think he’s fourth in the country in pass-efficiency, he just hasn’t had enough attempts.”

(Since you’ve been here, have you found that Kentucky is one of the schools you recruit against a lot, or less than you imagined?)

“We’re going to recruit against them a lot in this state, for sure. Even in our footprint you’re going to recruit against them. It seems like most of the guys that we’ve tried to target, they’ve been on them at some point. I’m sure that’s not going to change since we’re sitting right here very close to each other. You’re going to be trying to go after some of the same kids. It’s a matter of fit for the recruits and what kind of program they want to be a part of is what it comes down to.”

(Without Russ [Yeast], who else in that position back there at safety will have an impact since I know you are thin there?)

“Isaiah [Hayes], Jack [Fagot], Khane [Pass], those three. We’ll cross-train those guys because you have two safety positions. All three will have to know both positions there to rotate those three around and hopefully they stay healthy on Saturday.”

(Isaiah [Hayes] has played a lot lately. Was he hurt earlier in the year, and what’s the progression that you’ve seen with him?)

“He had a hamstring injury early on and missed four or five weeks. That’s time missed with reps, a little bit like Cunningham. He has had a lot more action in the last month and played on some special teams and played some defense to get a better feel for everything. He’s a smart player so he understands what we’re doing. His number will certainly get called this week and he’ll have to play the biggest role he has had all season.”

(You mentioned going to the UK-Louisville basketball game when you first came here. Did you know right away what this series was going to be about when you saw that atmosphere and that type of crowd?)

“I grew up in Durham so I’ve seen the Carolina-Duke rivalry, and then I went to Toledo and I recognized the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. Then you come to Louisville, and obviously the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry. That was a great atmosphere at that game and you get a good sense of how it’s going to be. For me, I’m still learning of how it goes. I figured they played twice in basketball, but they play once, and I guess it’s like that in most of the sports. You get one opportunity and one shot for bragging rights throughout the year. I think that’s probably the biggest thing because we’re both in this state and every time you go out in town, you’re potentially going to be around the other fan base. You always want bragging rights and I think it makes for a good off-season for whoever can win this game.”

(You probably heard the story of yours Ohio State against Michigan. Somebody asked Woody Hayes why he went for two, he said, because I couldn’t go for three. Do you think animosity has any value in these rivalries? You want your guys to dislike Kentucky? Are you feed on that at all?)

“You know I don’t know I think sometimes you can get so caught up in that that you lose sight of what you have to do and what your job is. Which is to go out and play well at your whatever your position. I kind of saw that a little bit with all rivalry at Georgia Southern sometimes some of the games you know we won a lot of those games but sometimes you get so caught up in the hype of the game that you forget about my job is to block and tackle and throw and catch. To me, you have to focus on that you know you have to play and it’s not just  another game I mean we understand it’s bigger than that. It’s the rivalry game, it’s bragging rights. It’s there’s a lot of things involved with it. But you can’t lose the fact of what you have to do. You have to prepare the best you can, like you do for all the other games and then go out and perform at a high level. So you know you just you just got to stay in the moment and not get caught up in all the hype.”

(It’s easy to see the success that Hawkins (Javian Hawkins) has had this year. But how do you guys as a staff determine Mekhi Becton’s year also. Give context to how well Mekhi (Becton) is playing?)

“Yeah, you know you just kind of go and look at just overall body of work that he’s been able to accomplish. Also you have stats that they look at up front as far as, missed assignments, pins, pancakes, all those type things. He also for us, is looking at where we’re running the football and where we headed with the ball. A lot of times we’re over there on that side, just like we were Saturday night and that last drive, I think every ball went over there. He’s played at a different level Saturday night there’s no question about it. He was inspired and really got after it but you can see that throughout this whole season you know how he’s finishing blocks the last half the season and he’s trying to go after guys after the initial block. Early in the season one done you know he’s gotten better with that.  It’s been fun to see, fun to watch. and fun to see the joy stays the way he plays and that’s contagious as well for the other guys.”

( To clarify about Russ (Yeast), obviously you said he would be out this week but what about the bowl game?)

“That’s going be a question but today I would say probably not. The hope is to be ready for spring practice. It’s one of these deals where he’s going be out six to eight months. But you’re looking at about a month from now. So that would be a big tough thing for him to make it. I would say probably not, but we’ll see how it goes over the next couple weeks.”

(Curious as to what you think about what you think about your counterpart Coach (Mark) Stoops. Whether you guys have a relationship. What do you think about the job he has done at Kentucky?)

“Yeah, I really don’t have a relationship with him really. I really don’t know him but he’s done a great job there. Obviously last year, what did they win 10 games last year?  Had a great season and what he’s been able to accomplish there’s been really good. Got a lot of respect for what he’s been able to do and accomplish there and for what his program is. But I don’t know him personally, that’s what I’ve seen. I know when he got there and what he’s been able to the first couple of years and win as many games and then to build that up to a 10 win season he got respect that and was able to accomplish.”

(How much have you come to appreciate the ACC this year that giving the competition level and you’re looking at where you finished? How much more do you feel like you have to uphold the beliefs stature in a game like that going against the SEC school? )

“Well, yeah, I mean the ACC is kind of national perspective, people said the ACC is down. Clemson is obviously is one of the best teams in the country. There are a lot of teams that I think are pretty good. I mean, you’re beating up on each other a little bit, and that’s hard. It’s hard to maintain that level of play every single Saturday.  I think that’s why that’s kind of happened, with the league play. But yeah, I agree. I think I think it’s big for the ACC when you go out and out of conference and go get you a big win. There is no question about it. I think as you look back on the body of work that’s huge for our conference and in our league. We got to be able to do that in particular when you’re going against an SEC school. I think that’s big as well because you’re always getting compared to a SEC you know program.”

(Whose job is it to simulating the quarterback situation for this week?)

“Man that’s ask a good question. We will probably get a wide receiver, it probably won’t be just one person. We’ll probably get a couple of wide receivers but it just won’t be one person. We’ll probably get a couple guys that played been playing wide receiver on that end of the field that can run around and put them in at quarterback and let him do that. It’s we don’t have anybody that can do it not me quite honestly. It’s all gonna be about fitting right anyway and tackling. You work on tackling through apparatuses and different domains that we have not actually kids so, so yeah, well we’ll just have to simulate that and really simulate the game speed which again, I go to get that to get out there on Saturday afternoon.”

(This is your first one of these games and this is rivalry weekend for everybody but when this series started, it was the first game of the season was that way for 10 to 15 years? Do you like it either way or are you fine with as the last game or would you like to see the first game?)

“Well, I mean, really it doesn’t matter to me. I think it is where it said I think probably the beginning of the season, you probably get more hype with the game. Everybody’s excited because you haven’t played a football game and everybody can’t wait the football season to hit. So you’re going to get a bigger crowd and probably more excitement surrounding that game. The end of the season is basically the weekend. Teams are kind of what they are at that point in the season. There’s excitement here, we all know that but throughout the week is all across the country that way but students are gone. They’re gonna go for Thanksgiving break. So all for all those reasons it’s probably better at the beginning, but it doesn’t matter when you play. Whenever you’re playing your rival, it’s going to be intense. It’s gonna be a lot of excitement there and regardless, you got to go out and play your best ball.”

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