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Scott Satterfield talks Notre Dame loss, previews Florida State

Louisville v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Here’s the transcript from Scott Satterfield’s Monday press conference, the video of which you can find here.

Coach Satterfield Opening Statement

I thought that we did several different things really well on Saturday. Defensively, we played a good game holding Notre Dame to twelve points. It was an outstanding effort by our guys on that side of the ball, particularly in a red zone, holding them out of the endzone on multiple occasions. The negative was third downs, we gave up too many third downs conversions and were not able to get off the field, particularly on the last drive. Notre Dame got the ball back with a little less than eight minutes on the clock and were able to melt the whole time away.

I thought that it was a good effort by our defense though, if you would have asked me before the game that if we only gave up twelve points, would we have a great chance of win, I would have said absolutely. I thought that the defense was a positive throughout the game. Offensively, we did not have ball enough. We only ran 45 plays on the day and within those not many big plays. We have got to get more big plays and that has been an issue all year. We have got to do better with that. However, I thought that we gave ourselves a chance to win the game, being a one possession game during the fourth quarter. But, being on the road at Notre Dame with that I thought that was a good effort by our guys. We got to get better obviously.

We had a good practice yesterday and are working on ways to get better and find ways to win games. It starts with being consistent on a daily basis with our guys and, and our guys bringing that kind of effort every single day.

(Coach Satterfield on the Offense…)

I think we have players that can make the plays, for whatever reason, we have not had the big plays that we had last year. We have to continue to find ways to get the ball in space to our playmakers, particularly, Tutu (Atwell). It is important to find ways to get our guys the ball to where they can make those big plays. He (Atwell) is very explosive player so I have to do a better job with the getting the ball in, in certain situations, to our guys. For example, this weekend, against Notre Dame, there were lot of the first downs, where they were loading up the box, so we got do a better job of getting the ball outside and win in those scenarios. There were too many times where we got in long yardage scenarios. On a bunch of third down and longs, Notre Dame had their defense back so you can’t get the plays down the field, so you have to take the completions underneath. Several times we took the completed balls underneath, but you are not getting first downs because you are in such a long yardage situations. I think it starts with doing a better job with our opportunities to make plays in certain downs and situations.

(Coach Satterfield on health of the team, Hassan Hall and YaYa Diaby…)

Those guys in particular got dinged up a little bit and left the game. They will be listed as day to day and we will see how practice this week. They did not practice yesterday. I think for the most part, everybody else is healthy, everyone else practiced Sunday. We should be good to go as on the injury front; those two guys you mentioned are the biggest questions this week.

(Coach Satterfield on the encouraging defensive performance…)

I was extremely encouraged. Going into the Notre Dame game, everybody was talking about their offensive line. They were very impressive on film. Notre Dame is very good up front, coming into the game they were averaging around 270 yards a game rushing, but very encouraging with what our defense was able to do.

I thought they we did a good job of containing the run. Notre Dame had a lot of a lot of time of possession, ran a lot of plays, and occupied the ball, but we didn’t give up the big plays. I thought that that was a huge part of the game. We forced a lot more contested balls whenever they did throw the football. I thought that our pass defense was a lot better. We also got in the backfield. We ended up with four sacks on the game.

We talked this last week about getting more pressure on quarterbacks, so I think the encouraging play and those things go hand in hand. With getting more pressure; the throw is more rushed, and the corners are able to contest on the back end. Therefore, not giving up those big plays was absolutely encouraging.

To hold Notre Dame to twelve points. We continue to improve defensively, if you look at the numbers, we have compared to last year, it has been an improvement, and last year defensively has been an improvement from the year before. Right now, the biggest thing on defense is being able to get off the field on third downs. We have to do a better job with that on defense, important to not to give up big plays, but third down defense is an area that we have to get better at.

(On the improvement of the cornerback play…)

Yeah, do I think much tighter coverage helped instead of playing so far off, eliminating that space we talked about that after the Georgia Tech game and Trey Clark makes a difference being out there. I think, he’s got the skill set that you want at corner, and he’s quick, he’s aggressive, and a smart player.

Tanner Jones played better out there corners well a little bit better tighter coverage out there and so it is encouraging to see. I think you tighten up that space and the window is not as large for the quarterbacks to make the throws and a matter of fact, there was a couple of times where I thought we almost had interceptions.

I mean, we’re very close there with that tight coverage and I thought Montgomery did a great job getting in the backfield has some big plays pressures and sacks and making the quarterback get off a spot that’s huge there and that helps your defensive backs again it goes hand in hand pass rush with the debt was a secondary play but to both corners I thought the other night played much better and we’re going to need that as we as we head through the rest of season.

(Do you think this performance can spark a turnround for this team?)

Yeah, going into the game last week I thought we thought we had a really good week of preparation and just really accountability type stuff we’ve been really harping on the last few weeks. The full buy in on everything we’re trying to do we thought that happened and then the great thing is it translated to the field and, you know, it’s such a fine line from winning and losing, then it has been, and it will always be. So, you have to do little things correctly in order to give yourself a chance to win.

You can go back to last year I mean how many games were so close right there that we could have won or lost those games this year we’ve been on the short end of those sticks. The last three weeks we’ve been in every one of those games, very easily could have won those games and. So we’re really close, and we just got to continue on and doing a little things correctly, finding ways to make plays offensively and defensively continue to get better and so we hope that what we did last week we instilled a little bit of confidence and an encouragement to our guys to continue on what they’re doing, so that we will be able to go out there and get some big wins. That’s what obviously what it’s all about and we got to continue to do those little things to make that happen.

(On keeping the players spirits up after being on a four-game losing streak…)

Well we monitor that all the time anyway whether you went in four in a row losing four it’s obviously you can get discouraged if you’re not coming on coming on the winning side of things on Saturdays, but we try to focus on where your feet are right now, that day. You can’t worry about past or future you have to focus on right the right now and that’s the process of going through anything whether you winning or losing you have to focus on where you where you are right now. That’s what we really tried to harp on is like Sunday we came out yesterday.

You know, having lost four in a row, it can be really discouraging but our guys came out of a really good practice Sunday, I thought the focus was there and the guys went hard. I think they’re eager and hungry to get some wins, but again, focusing on the that one day, that’s what we have to do. I think our guys are doing it and we’re getting better. Our guys are getting better every single week and you know, I think that eventually it’s going to start showing in the in the win loss column. I think we can’t focus on what we can’t focus on the outcome have to surrender the outcome we have to focus on the here and now and that’s what we’ve been harping on every day.

(On familiarity with obscure rules like that which came up during onside kick against Notre Dame…)

Yeah, we were aware of the rule. That’s one of those things where you can’t hit a player unless the ball goes 10 years, which we know that’s the case. And the two things that they can review are if the ball did go 10 yards before we touched it and/or did we touch anybody before the ball went 10 yards. Those are the two things that are reviewable, and we knew that.

It’s one of those things where you’re going to take a chance, and a lot of it is on the kick, and what happened with the kick. You want to hit it firm enough to where it goes 10 yards before we’re going to get there, and the ball stopped at about eight (yards) and kind of went sideways. Then it ended up going 10, but by that time we already hit the guy, and the ball had gone roughly nine yards when we hit him. So once I saw the replay and that they went to replay, I thought “Well, we’re going to lose this.”

Some of the rules you don’t see very often, and that’s why a lot of the public don’t understand some of those rules, and even coaches at times, with rules that don’t come into play very often. That’s just one of those rules. You don’t see just a tone of onside kicks, particularly in the middle of a game. But I was willing to wait, and it was close. The ball went 10 yards, we ended up getting it, and we ended up hitting him a little bit early. But we certainly thought it to get that ball right there. You have momentum, maybe you take it in for another score. And what ended up happening was we lost five yards, we still kicked the ball off and I think they got the ball at the 34 once we went and tackled him. So that, to me, I was really willing to take that risk. We were very close to getting it

(Are you ever surprised by a rule that you’re not familiar with?)

I can’t really recall. I’m sure it’s happened at some point in time over the years, but I think predominately, we understand most everything that’s out there that’s getting called. Sometimes we don’t agree with them, but every now and again it does happen.

(Have you intentionally been giving Cunningham more rushing calls to open up his game?)

We made it a point last week, for sure, to get him involved in (the rushing attack). We’ve always had the draw game that gets called every week. We hit a few of those against Georgia Tech, and we ended up scoring in the red zone on that. That’s up every week.

Some of these other plays, I think Saturday we had play where we brought him back to keep the ball and get around the edge. We got some big play, including the fourth-down play that was huge. We ended up scoring on that drive. We certainly want to have those plays up and running during the week. I think as teams start to try to defend offenses, if you have a quarterback who can run – just like we’re going to play this week in Florida State, they’re certainly going to run their quarterback. I think he’s their leading rusher. He’s going to carry the football – it’s hard to defend that. Now instead of 10-on-11, you’re playing 11-on-11 football. You have to defend everybody on the field.

(How far behind the chains is too far, especially on third down?)

Well, anything over 10 yards makes it really difficult, because if you do run a normal pattern – like, for example, a curl pattern – when you catch that, you’re going to be right around 10 yards. Anything after that, you’re going to have to break some tackles. If it’s past 10 yards, most defenses are going to play a little bit off there knowing you have to get to those sticks. If it’s past those 10 yards, it’s tough to run by them. So, you have to run something underneath, and you have to make guys miss. You have to find a way to run after the catch. So, I think anything past that, it makes things a lot more difficult.

Then you start thinking, okay, do we want to run routes that are further down the field? Well now you’re going to have to protect longer. Now you run the risk of getting sacked. Is this calculated risk one you want to take with the ball in our hands? All of those things are coming into play. It just makes it hard.

Obviously, if you stay within the third and eight or under, we feel like most of the routes that we throw and catch are going to be able to get that first down.

(Kind of off that, I think in the game you guys had seven drives you’re behind the six. What can you guys do offensively to combat that? Some of them are penalties, some are loss of yards, but how do you combat that, and what do you think the reasoning for that is?)

Well, you’re correct on that seven drives. Two of those drives for sure were penalties. We had the late hit that backed us up dead ball, which now you’re 2nd & 20. We were on the plus 40, 42 yard line on that. That was a huge penalty there. The last drive that we had, we get a penalty on them, we get a first down, and then we get a not enough guys on the line of scrimmage five yard penalty, and another five, it’s 1st & 20. It’s hard to overcome that. So that’s two of the drives, right there. The other drive, we ran a reverse with TuTu thinking we’re gonna be able to get some positive yards, we lose four yards on that. Now we’re 2nd & 14. So almost half our drives that we’re way behind the sticks. So to answer your question, we have to do a much better job on first down. This game in particular we were not very good on first down. I think we had either zero or one yard or negative yards in almost half of our first downs. And so when you’re doing that, now it’s 2nd & 10 or longer, it makes it very difficult to try to make that ground up. We got to do a much better job on first down, so you don’t put yourselves in those situations.

(A follow up to that, as a coach, when you go back and look at that on film and you see this throw was on first down, does that make you rethink the play calling or the script that you guys pull out for the following game?)

Yeah, no question. It has to start with me, I’m calling the plays and, first down, if they’ve got nine guys all up in the middle of the field, we got to throw the ball on the outside, or we got to run something outside. There’s no question about it. We can’t be hard headed and say ‘alright, you guys got everybody here, but we’re still going to run it right up the middle.’ And that’s what we did way too much the other night. And that’s on me. We got to do a much better job with that, see what they’re going to give us. That’s been my philosophy for all of the years I’ve called plays, is taking what they give us. We have to do a better job with that.

(When it comes to Florida State, they seem like they’re a football team that has gotten a lot better from the beginning of the season to where they are now. What do you see out of them, and what’s been the change?)

They obviously missed spring practice, we missed summer, all the things that we talked about, and he’s a new, coaching staff coming in. It takes a little bit of time obviously to get what you want to do on offense and defense and kicking in the game. They have some talented players. What I saw Saturday was just those guys were playing hard. Just effort. Defensively, they played with great effort.

Offensively, making a lot of plays. I think when they started the quarterback, Jordan Travis in the game, going back to Jacksonville State in the second half, they’ve scored on about half of their offensive possessions, and he’s kind of been that spark offensively for them. Anytime you’re doing that, you’re scoring points and it inspires your defense, inspires really your whole team to play a little bit harder knowing that you got an opportunity to go get a win. They got a big lead this past weekend against North Carolina. North Carolina made a great rally, almost came back, but they didn’t. Florida State hung on to win the game. So, they’re riding high right now, they feel like they got momentum coming up here this weekend, and so I think for all those factors, they feel like they’re going in the right direction.

(Obviously, the homefield is so different this year everywhere, but you’ve been on the road for a month with that by week in there, what does it feel like to not have to travel this week, not to have to go through all of that and actually be home for a couple weeks?)

Yeah, that’s great for us, not have to go through all the travel, things that are going on. But I think for us, it’s more about going out and playing well wherever we play. Our guys, again, we’re eager to get back out on the field and to play and continue to improve. And, it’s great that we’re going to be able to play at home here for the next few weeks. it’s been a month away. That’s a long time for road games. I look at Notre Dame, they haven’t been on the road yet. We’re in the middle of October, they haven’t had a road game. For us to be able to stay at home here for the next few weeks, obviously we welcome that for sure.

(You mentioned Kei’trel Clark and Monty Montgomery, Cam DeGeorge was having a good day, all the transfers you got late. I know you talk a lot about in recruiting, leaving scholarships open late to add those guys. How important is that when you’re trying to build depth, when you’re trying to rebuild a program to have transfers come in and impact so early?)

It’s nice to be able to have those scholarships available for guys that are looking for a new start, new opportunity. Certainly want to get the right ones. I think if you’re bringing someone in that maybe didn’t play where they were at before, that’s obviously not what you want. You want guys that can come in and have impact. Those guys have been really good for us. Cam DeGeorge, really hadn’t talked a ton about him, but man, he played awesome. He did a lot of great things, and played a lot. The last two weeks he’s played more and more ball and will continue to play a lot of ball for us. He’s a great kid who plays hard. Tre Clark’s been a big impact for us, we obviously need him out there. So yeah, it’s nice to have that luxury to be able to have some scholarships there maybe in the spring or summer so you can maybe bring some guys in, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue that trend in the future.