You can see the video of Scott Satterfield’s weekly press conference here, or read the transcript below.
Good afternoon, guys. Obviously very disappointing about the game Friday. I think the most glaring thing that stands out about it is the turnovers, the three fumbles that we lost. We felt offensively, we were able to move the football most of the night, and obviously if you turn the ball over, then you can’t do that. And you’re losing opportunities to go down and get points. I think the other thing that we haven’t done a good job with so far this year is hitting on our deep shots. We look back to last year, we were really good at big plays. We have to be a big play offense because we have big play players with the kind of speed that we have, with some of the skill guys, we have to be able to utilize and hit those guys, and we were not able to connect on some of those plays. Even the first drive, we come out in an empty set and we had our tight end wide open, we don’t connect on it. Probably would have scored on the opening drive there. That’s just an example of what’s happening with it, and then the turnovers. I think we got 11 turnovers so far and we only created three so that’s a negative, big time negative turnover margin. You can’t win football games that way. I think if you go back again last year, we those took care of those balls. And in the ones that we didn’t, We didn’t win. So, that would obviously help in trying to get wins.
(On the big plays, and another one, Ean, it looked like it kind of went off his fingertips. But the other ones, is it more of timing or is it Malik missing a little bit or guys in routes, is it is it kind of the same thing all the time or is it something different every time?)
It seems like there’s something different. Now, Malik’s overthrown a few of them, but it seems like there’s been something different, whether it be Malik not throwing the proper ball or the receiver not running the proper route or the O line or tight ends not protecting. So, in the course of the season, it’s been a little bit of everybody, I think, that have attributed to some of those shots not being there. But I think, Malik’s got to be able to hit some of those balls. We had, of course, the Ean drop on the first drive and then I think maybe the third drive or could have been the fourth, it was in the second quarter going the other way, we got TuTu on a post coming across, which we’ve hit, many a times, just overthrew that. And it’s hard to overthrow TuTu. So, but it’s just for whatever reason we’ve just not connected like we needed to down the field. Now, we’ve hit some throughout the year, but we’ve got to hit them all. We don’t have a whole lot of room for error. We’re not good enough to not connect on those big plays. I think our running game is solid. Hawkins is top 10 in the country in rushing per game so, that should be good enough running the football, but you got to combine that with hitting those balls down the field. We’ve just got to be able to do that, and then we got to take care of the ball. Those two things, if you do that then we’re, you can go back and look at the Pitt and the Georgia Tech game and, that’s a couple of touchdowns in each game, it’s probably a different outcome of both of those games and we’re sitting here at 3-1, even with how poorly we’ve played defensively. We’ve got to be able to do those things, that’s the way our makeup of our team is right now. And that’s what we have to be able to do in order to to win these games.
(You mentioned the other night after the game that when it came to poor tackling, that you guys haven’t tackled well for three or four years now. What are you seeing with the tackling, and did you mean Louisville for three or four years or even dating back to when you guys were at App State?)
No, I mean Louisville. It’s not been good tackling, and it’s still not. I mean, you can teach tackling and you can work on it, and we do. We work on it all the time. But when you’re playing the game of football, there’s so many variables involved with it. It’s angles, it’s the point wherever I’m hitting the guy, am I trying to wrap up or am I just trying to go in with the shoulder? Also, what kind of makeup am I as a player? Do I have a great ability and athletic enough and more quick twitch and strength to go get guys down? All those things are involved with that, and we’re not where we need to be obviously in regards to that. So, there’s a lot we got to get better at with that. Going back and watching the film from the other night, there’s a lot of times we’re in place to make the play and we just don’t pull the trigger, meaning our feet are flat and we’re not going toward the carrier. And, you have to go pull your trigger. You got to go fly through the ball carriers and wrap up. And when you’re hesitant, and your feet are not moving, then a lot of times, bad things are going to happen to you as a defense. That’s kind of where we are. We got to pull triggers and we got to go and we got to go try to run through the carrier. If we miss, we miss. But we got to be more aggressive with it.
(It’s a lot of the same guys on offense that were there last year that were very successful. Is it lack of concentration in the turnovers, is it just a variance in one season to the next, and what can you do to clean it up?)
Well, I think a lot of it is just carrying the football in a position where it’s going to be hard for the defense to get it out. And, we’ve been working on it all the time. These guys did a much better job last year obviously, than this year. I think Hassan has had what maybe three or four fumbles in the course of the season already. And Hawk the other night gets stripped on one of his. It’s just putting the ball in a position where you’re going to protect it. *feed froze* ...it and really trying to pull at the ball. There was a couple of times where piles were actually coming down. Well, Hassan Hall had the one where he’s on the ground, he’s laying down and he’s actually on top of the person, and they pull it right out of him. We tell our guys, you got to get the ball to the referee. It doesn’t matter, at any point. You think you’re down or not, you have to get up and get the ball to the referee. So, it’s just about concentration, holding on to the ball, knowing when you’re in traffic, knowing when to have that off hand to protect it. All the little things that we work on all the time.
(On how Coach is keeping the players spirits up…)
We are still young in the program with this coaching staff. It’s an everyday process that we’re going through and it’s really just talking about literally going through the process of becoming a championship caliber team and it’s about habits, it’s about commitment, it’s about what you’re doing on a daily basis, and you just can’t show up and any of us can’t just show up all of a sudden when it’s time to shine and think you’re going be really good, it doesn’t work that way so we are constantly reiterating the fact that we have to show up every day and how to be committed and to the process. I think that’s the biggest thing and we’re still growing, we’re still working on that and really, you point out to the fact that guys we’re with 11 minutes to go in a game and we’re winning with the ball at midfield. The other night I mean, I would of lost a lot of money if we said we’re going to lose by 19, at that point. We were driving down the field to get a score to lead and we put the ball on the ground and next thing, they score and then they score again. It’s just kind of unravel from that point but and then you go back to the Pitt game and it’s 23 to 20 for most of the fourth quarter. We had three opportunities and we turned the ball over twice. Think about last year, we won those games in the fourth quarter against Wake Forest, Boston College, and Syracuse. We finished those games out and so you certainly got to point out the positives and some things that we did do good.
It’s not all doom and gloom when the guys are in the building. We’re not just constantly looking all the negative things. I mean it’s whether they’re several negative things, but we’re not just always looking at those. We’re trying to build off of what we are doing good, and then trying to try to correct the mistakes that we have made. It can be very frustrating at times there’s no question about it for all of us, but we’re working to get better, and that’s what we have to do. I think when you have bad things happen to you there’s so many people, and we’re in a whirlpool of negativity anyway and so it’s really easy just to jump on the negative and talk about how bad somebody is, or maybe or they’re doing or all those things. What we tell them is “listen, you got to drown out any kind of noise any kind of negative talk that’s out there, and then we focus on what we can control.”
When we’re here in a building and then what can we do better how many guys are on a data, all day like today. How many guys are over here getting extra work in the weight room and watching film. Those are the kind of things that we talk about that we have to do in order to get better and all those things, they give you a chance. That doesn’t guarantee you a win, they just give you a chance.
(On poor tackling and bringing young players up in the depth chart…)
I think you obviously have to look at everybody and we’ve told the young guys , it’s not like I had him on wait for next year, I mean you guys need to be preparing yourself to play right now. I mean there’s no question about that. I mean (Ja’Darien) Boykin was in the game, you mentioned Dezmond Tell. I think once, some of these young guys will get opportunities, there’s no question about it. A lot of this comes back to practice how are they practicing. We don’t want to put them out there and they don’t look really bad, but I think these guys have ability and we need to put them out. Let them get some plays under their belt and they’re going to make some mistakes while they’re out there. Obviously, they don’t have the kind of experience that you’d love to have, but once they get out there, they do have ability to make plays. You will see more guys getting out there that are young that maybe hadn’t played as much.
(Do you think the offense is not as crisp as last year?)
Yeah, I think that’s the biggest difference. I think the turnovers and big plays I think are the two biggest differences on offense that I think we’ve had. Again, last year we were able to connect on a lot of those plays. If you go back to Boston College, I mean we had many yards off big plays as well as in the Wake Forest and Syracuse games. So, we got to be able to connect on those balls down the field because those type plays, they give you seven points like right now, I mean there’s seven points and then you can run the football and collect the clock and keep our defense off the field and that was kind of in the formula for us winning last year and so we got to be able to continue to do that every week. We put our defense in bonds the other night with three turnovers and get the ball right back to their offense. I mean, we were not good enough to do that we have to take care of the football and we have to get down the field and then we hit those big plays we’re going to score points. It’s going to be a different ballgame we hit, even on the first drive for a touchdown there and then we hit to two on a post route, in the second quarter. Now you’re looking at instead of 21-14 at half time, we may be up three scores in half and you’re going to call the game different after that. We have to be able to hit those plays and where we are right now and that’s how we that’s how we will be able to win football games is that, that scenario
(On what is at stake this weekend at Notre Dame…)
Yeah. Um, I think, I think for us, it’s not about Notre Dame. , I think it’s, it’s about us in this building, and how well we can go out and prepare this week to play this game and then go out and actually execute and play the game the way we prepared. I think that’s probably the biggest thing. Whether we win or whatever we lose whatever the score is to me, what’s going to help make this season for us is that we are coming out and we’re planning, the way we need to be playing and taking care of the football. Pulling our trigger on defense if we missed the tackles but we’re flying in there and then that’s what we got to do staying aggressive, and I think like that mindset and that execution will enable us to go out and play a lot better and win some football games this year, but we have to we have to get fixed within our building. Regardless of who we’re playing, this week we are playing Notre Dame. They’re obviously an outstanding football team, top five team every year it seems like in the country. It is a big challenge, but to me and for our guys and our staff and our team is more about us and how we can go execute and just play at a much better level.
On how coaches interact when there are struggles on both sides of the ball…
We’re all in this thing together. Our staff understands that, and if there’s an idea that somebody may have, bring it up. bring it up to the table. We’re open to that. Our guys have always been that way. I think on game day to heat the battle, sometimes you can get hectic on the sideline and in the box and that type of thing. But for the most part our guys are pretty calm and cool throughout the game. When we’re in the building here, we’re open to all ideas. Again we’re all on the same page, and we’re all in this thing together. Our guys do a great job with that. Part of what I think makes a great program is when you have great chemistry on the staff and guys work well together. You put your ego to the side and we all know that we’re in this thing together as one. That filters down through the players. So our staff does an unbelievable job with that, and believe me, we’re in here trying to do everything we can to find anyway to help on each side of the ball and on special teams to find ways to win or some advantage against whoever we’re playing.
(On what has to change to defeat Notre Dame this weekend…)
The number one thing that stands out about Notre Dame is the offensive line. It’s arguably the best offensive line in the country. They have guys that have played a lot of ball together up front. I think Coach Kelly has even said this is his best offensive line since he’s been at Notre Dame. These guys are good at pass pro and run blocking, and Ian Book, their quarterback, is obviously a very good player, especially when they’re able to run the football.
I think what they’ve shown this year is that they’ve got some very good backs that are able to run the ball because the offensive line is able to open up those holes. When you’re able to do that, Book is able to stand back when it is time to make that throw to take his time and find that open receiver. They’re very impressive there.
Defensively, they have a lot of seniors, a lot of experience on that side of the ball. Guys can really run to the football. They try to keep everything in front of them and do an excellent job with that. They’re also excellent on third down.
I mean, this is Notre Dame. They recruit some of the best players in the country year-in and year-out. They have depth. It’s just an outstanding program. So as you look at them, there’s not a ton of weaknesses on this football team.
(On the switch to Ryan Harwell at punter…)
He just got a little bit more comfortable the last couple weeks punting the football. I thought he did a good job, particularly the first half he had two punts that we downed inside the 20, actually, down near the goal line. So I thought he executed well, and he’s just earned the right to be able to go out there and play. We’ll see again this week. We’ll let those guys battle it out and see which one ends up coming out punting for us, but I thought he did a pretty good job with that in the first half of the game. He finished the game good. We gave up a little bit of pressure in the second half, and that was one of his worst punts, but I think overall he did a good job.
(On keeping players focused without pressing too hard…)
It’s all about us. I don’t worry about the record. … Just go play ball. For us, it’s about how good we can get on a daily basis. How committed we are as a team to get better. You just take it one week at a time. At the end of the season we’ll look back and we’ll see what happens with the record. We just have to focus on this week and how much better we can get. Our deficiencies, can we improve in those and then hopefully by the end of the season we’ve become a lot better football team and we’ve started to play at a high level. We just have to take it one day at a time, one week at a time..
(On if he has experience dealing with losing three of four games…)
Oh yeah. My first year as a head coach we were 4-8. My second year we started out 1-5, so I was 5-12 as a head coach. So yeah, we’ve been here before. It’s not any fun believe me. But my second year when we started 1-5, we won our last 6 in a row, so we finished 7-5 that year. It’s the same thing, you take it one week at a time, find a way to make the plays in whatever game you’re playing, and hopefully you come out victorious. But it’s never easy. When you put in the kind of work we put in and you go out and you’re not able to celebrate in the locker room, it’s very frustrating. But again, you just have to take it one week at a time and stay focused on the task at hand right now.
(On Marlon Character’s ejection and resulting first-half suspension for targeting…)
(Kei’Trel) Clark was a game-time decision for us on Friday night, and we decided not to play him. So he was close, and he’s back. I think he practiced on Sunday. He’ll be back this week which is good because as you mentioned Character will be out for the first half of this game. It definitely hurts our depth with him being out because he’s in a lot of our teams as well, special teams. That was a big blow for us. But having Clark back, that will help at the corner position and also in the special teams aspect. So we’re looking forward to getting him back.