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Scott Satterfield talks Covid issues, Virginia Tech loss and Virginia game

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The Louisville coach’s Monday presser was even more loaded with content than usual.

Louisville v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

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

Opening Statement

Going back over the game this past weekend, we just kind of got into a hole there early in the game. Offensively, the first couple drives we didn’t get anything going. You look up, and you’re down 14. Obviously, we would have liked to have done a better job defensively to keep them out the end zone, but our kids continued to fight. Watching the film it was obvious.

We were down 21, and we ended up coming back and making it a 7-point game. Then in the second half we were down 17 and ended up making it one score. We very easily could have quit and laid down, particularly with the adversity we faced Saturday before the game. I was proud of the way the guys continued to fight and keep coming back.

We came back last night and had a good practice. Our guys were in pretty good spirits. Today, of course, is going to be different for us. We have to speed up our game plan. We’re meeting this evening and practicing tonight since tomorrow will be our day off this week. Wednesday moving forward will be the same for us as we move forward for the game on Saturday.

Any update on the players who missed Saturday’s game?

That remains to be seen as we all know how this virus works. We ended up having one positive on Wednesday. We isolated some guys with that. Then Friday we’re getting ready to go, and we get the testing that we do, we don’t really find those out on Friday until the nighttime. We actually found out a couple guys were positive on Friday night. Then, in turn, you start with the contact tracing, so you end up getting some more guys. So that’s kind of how it all went down.

Saturday morning, when the guys get up to get breakfast, we have guys isolated, taking them out and those types of things, which just so happened to affect the defense as we all saw. A lot of our defensive line was out: Monty Montgomery, Isaiah Hayes, you know. With that, those guys are going to be out. It’s going to be a couple weeks with the protocols. If you’re contact traced, you’re out 14 days. If you do actually have the virus, then you can actually come back a little bit sooner once you go through the protocols and get all your testing done with that. I would anticipate that all those guys who missed last week will miss this week as well.

Will it make a difference at least knowing that these guys will miss the game more than just hours ahead of time?

Yeah, it makes a difference because you can work more guys. Now, the guys that we’re going to be working are obviously going to be less experienced: maybe guys who having played a lot or maybe even some young guys that haven’t played hardly at all. Those guys will be getting reps this week at practice. In that sense, yes, it helps. When you look at it, you essentially have around five starters that are unavailable. And that hurts. You don’t have much depth to begin with when you have all your guys. You take those guys out, so now you’re playing guys who are inexperienced. So some guys are going to have to step up. We’re going to have to have guys who haven’t played a ton to go out there and play.

I thought our guys that went out and played that hadn’t played a lot of reps – Derek Dorsey, Zach Edwards – those are guys that maybe get into five plays a game that had to play a lot in this past game. They’re going to be getting a lot more reps this coming week. A guy like Goldwire had to play a lot more reps than he would normally be accustomed to playing up front. What ends up happening to those guys who are not used to playing 40 reps a game, 50 reps, they’re going to have to do that. Practice will help throughout the week because they’re going to be getting a ton of reps. You’re going to be getting some of these other younger guys in there, too.

On the team’s participating in tomorrow’s election

Throughout the summer and as we headed toward the season, we made aim to get everybody registered. We got 100 percent of our guys registered to vote. Everybody that was out of state, we got all of their absentee vote ballots here. They came straight to our office here, so we were able to hand them to our guys here. And obviously the local guys, the polls have been open I think three weeks here in Kentucky, so these guys have an opportunity to go out and vote. I don’t know the actual number who have voted, but I know there are a few guys that are going to vote tomorrow, the local guys.

Tomorrow these guys will be free. They won’t be over here. They’ll be free to go handle that voting opportunity for the few guys who need to do that. Like I said, the majority of guys have already done that and have already voted this year.

On the differences between last year’s team and this year’s team.

It’s hard to say, really, the biggest difference. Last year we found some ways to win in the fourth quarter. This year we have not. We’ve been in most of the games this year. Three of them I know were one-possession games, Georgia Tech we were ahead by a point with 11 minutes left, so that’s four games. Then we won the other two. Really, the Miami game was the only game that was kind of out of hand.

We’ve been in the games, we just haven’t closed them out. When you think about last year, we were able to beat Boston College on a field go there within a minute to go. We beat Wake Forest right there at the end. We were able to close out Virginia last year in the fourth quarter. I think being able to close out games is huge.

I think this year, one of the things that stands out to me is the turnover margin. We have not created many turnovers, and in these losses we’ve had a lot of turnovers. We had three Saturday. You look back at Notre Dame and Florida State, we didn’t have any. Georgia Tech: 0-3 in the turnover margin. I think turnovers are playing a huge role this year. The ability to not get turnovers and then turning the ball over offensively. That’s probably the two biggest things: closing out the fourth quarter and the turnover margin.

(Coach Satterfield on Virginia run defense…)

I think first of all, they have tremendous length. They are based out of a 3-4 defense with great three down linemen. They like to put bigger guys in those positions, 310 pounds at nose tackle, with 282 and 285 at the two defensive tackle spots. On the outside, like I mentioned they have great length. They have (Charles) Snowden, who is six foot seven, and Noah Taylor, who is six foot five. I think they try to keep everything inside, which helps the defense do a really good job of stopping that run. They have done a great job against a lot of the people they have played, even the Wake Forest game where Wake had an 80-yard run down the sideline, they still held them in check. I think they have done a good job with their run defense; I think if you look at their defense, one of the areas they have struggled is passing yards. This is because they are bringing the safeties down and having those linebackers in an umbrella type defense to really slow down the run. We like to run the ball, but it will be imperative for us to be able to hit some plays in the passing game down the field, there’s no question about it. Going back to this weekend, we got stymied early, but we started opening up throwing the ball and we were able to move the football to get some points on the board. The main thing that we have to do is hit positive plays offensively. We cannot continue to have those setback or negative plays because you look up and it is third down and 12 or 14 or longer and it’s becomes hard to pick those up and all of a sudden you press because you feel like you have to score. But we got to get points on the board when we have the chances. If you look at the games this year, where we have been able to get up early, we get some confidence and get things rolling. I think that it has bode well for us after we have been able to do that. It is hard to play from behind and we’re quite frankly not good enough to do that right now. We have got to do a better job of getting up early in the game and getting some momentum.

(Coach Satterfield on update of Monty Montgomery and optout of Thurman Gathers…)

Yeah, as far as Monty (Montgomery) goes we are still checking on the contact tracing part. He was not one of the players to test positive, so we are checking on his contact tracing to see if there is anything left to be done there with the rules of contact tracing. With (Thurman) Gathers, he decided to opt out. He has had some ups and downs throughout his career, which has led to some frustration. He did not play a whole lot on Saturday and he just decided he wanted to pack it up. It is unfortunate, but you know he wants to move in another direction so that is where we are headed with that. I have told our guys we want guys that want to be here. You have to be 100% committed. This is not a sport where you can be half in and half out. You have to be 100% committed to do everything that you are asked to do, and all that does is give you a chance to be successful. That is where we are with it. I think the guys that are here that are going to continue to work hard and move forward will get this thing rolling.

(Coach Satterfield on cross-training guys with Co-Vid and injuries)

I think a lot of it depends on the position. For example, with the offensive line we have let guys practice and play tackle, guard, and guard center, in case you have to move guys around on that side. We have had guys on defense, if you look at it with our scheme, outside linebackers can come in and play as a defensive ends type position for us if we need some more depth right there. We have trained (Jared) Goldwire to play defensive end and nose tackle to be able to move him around a little bit more. Then also, some of our guys who play safety we have been able to pull them down and play as an outside linebacker. We have tried to move guys around a little bit throughout the year to practice in some different positions, but obviousl we think where they are is their best position. So, when you have to start moving guys around then you are not going to be as good as you would have if they were in their natural positions. What we are trying to do now is even if a guy that is a little bit younger who has not played a lot of reps, but that is his position that he is comfortable playing, then we have tried to slide those guys in there. This gives us more time to look at some other guys in different positions to see if they really help us in another spot, and that is some of the things we will be doing throughout this week. It will be more challenging when you get to this point in the season, particularly this week because now we have to practice tonight. I mean, things happen really fast. We will see where we are at by the end of the week if we are able get some guys in to try different spots.

(Follow Up- Secondary Players as Linebackers...)

Well, we have in the past. Usually, when you are doing this type of thing it is in the spring, it is kind of experiment to see if the player can you actually do it. Now we are sitting here in the season. It makes it a lot more challenging because you want guys to feel comfortable in whatever spots that you move them to. Regardless if you move in a safety down to the linebacker spot, or a linebacker down to a defensive end spot, they still have to feel comfortable. I mean, you are playing against guys that know what they are doing. You are playing against these talented players in our conference week in and week out, so you do not want to get guys in there, and they can’t get it done. We will look at it this week and we will see if there’s any tweaking of positional movement and see what we need to do, but again it will be as the week goes on and we will see what works best.

(With your all’s offense, everybody knows what Javian and Tutu means to it, but on Saturday, it seemed like for the first time in a long time, Dez Fitzpatrick made a major impact for you guys. Was that really important to get him going?)

Yeah, certainly. We got down 21-0, you got to start opening it up and throwing the football a little bit more and he was able to make some big plays for us. It’s not like we hadn’t tried to get him involved more throughout the season. There’ve been opportunities and chances and for whatever reason, just have not connected on some of those balls down the field or intermediate for that matter. It was good to see him make plays out there Saturday. Had some huge impact in that game and got us back in the game. Obviously, he’s a big weapon on the outside there and with Hawkins and Tutu and Cunningham and Ford and some of these guys making plays, it’s great to have another one out there that can make plays for us. He’s got a lot of strengths. He’s a tall guy, he runs well, and he does a good job after the catch. Hopefully these last few games he’ll be a guy that can get heavily involved and make a big impact in our offense.

(Scott, you already talked a little bit about Derek Dorsey and Ramon Puryear, but I want to talk specifically about Ramon. He’s a guy who showed a lot of flashes last year, played pretty well on Saturday. Do you see this as a chance for him to get some good reps for his future?)

Yeah, I think all those guys got an opportunity. Those three in particular, with Derek Dorsey, Zach Edwards, Puryear. Those guys really got more playing time and that’s a great chance for them to really show what they can do, and a great opportunity. Really what it shows for these guys that really hadn’t got a lot of reps, and Ramon’s probably got more than Dorsey and Edwards probably throughout the year, but it really shows what have you been doing throughout the season during practice? What’s your prep been like? Because now you get an opportunity to go out there and show what you can do. And I thought those guys did a really nice job, particularly, Ramon and Dorsey. Those guys really showed a lot of flash out there. Hopefully that’ll help as we move forward and we start getting some of these guys back, so now you got more depth right there and you feel like you got guys that you can put in and make plays. But he’s a guy that showed last year as a freshman, and we thought ‘man, this guy’s got a chance to be pretty good for us.’ And this year he’s played a lot more and I think he’ll continue to play and have a big impact as we move forward.

(To go back to Saturday one more time, was there ever a thought of postponing or were you close enough? I know there’s parameters of when you can postpone, I assume you guys didn’t get close to those or that would have been talked about maybe more?)

No, we talked about it and there were certainly a thought of that. It comes down to ‘do you have enough players at a certain position?’ And I’ve heard this from several schools throughout the country whenever games have been canceled. If you don’t have enough players at a certain position you can’t play. Particularly, O-line and D-line are really those spots. You just can’t go manufacture big guys to put in there. Either you have them or you don’t. So we looked at the numbers defensive line wise to say ‘can we play?’, and we had enough. We had five. And we said we’ll go out and play. You just cross your fingers that nobody gets dinged out there during the game and we’re able to finish the game with all those guys, because then it becomes player safety. So we did not reach that number where we didn’t think it was not safe for those guys to go play, and obviously you want to go play. We want to play these games. The rest of the guys on the team have worked hard to go out and play and so we’re going to try to get those games in. For this week, again, we’ll see how it goes throughout the week. Hopefully we got the same kind of bodies, if not more, as we move forward and we’ll have enough to go play and that’s where we are. We all know what we’re dealing with. It’s a year like no other. Things pop up every single day and so you just have to roll with it and deal with it and move forward the best you can.

(On player’s mental health during COVID-19..)

The mental health aspect to me has been at the forefront, all the way back when we shut down. I think just as you put people in isolation. I mean we’re all human social people and we’re supposed to be out and about and around people and I think that in itself mentally is a big time challenge. Then you talk about athletes, Division I athletes, that are used to going out and performing and playing and lifting and running and all the things that they do and competing and to take some of that away from them. This past summer I thought the mental health part was huge. Now we as coaches try to really focus on that more than anything. As we’ve learned more about the virus and how it’s affecting young people, which hadn’t had a great impact health wise on young people as it has maybe older vulnerable people health wise. I think it’s eased the fears of the young people, , even the ones that have had it here throughout the summer and came back and being done fine and been healthy. So, I think that part of it’s kind of eased their fear. With that, I think early on, it was certainly a fear there, but I think as we move forward with it and the way we are treating it a lot was a lot better now with that, but the isolation part is a real thing. There’s a lot going on for these young people in then with the social media stuff I mean yeah it’s just so many things that are going on and we talk to these guys so much about that and so we just got to be supportive with them and that’s what we are doing.

(Do you see mental health as a necessary component for coaching and for players now?)

I Absolutely think it’s so much more. Not just athletes, but for our youth as well. As you talk about the things that they’re having to go through and I think social media to a negative effect for these young people is huge and we know I got three kids, teenagers and they’re older, they’re on their phones looking at that stuff all the time and so are our players. I mean some of the first things they do is come in and look at their phones and so a lot of that social media stuff is negative impact. They’re feeding their minds and I don’t like that. Then you put the pressures of school, and now athletic sports. So absolutely, I think it’s something that that we’ve looked at more, as a society, and as sports. With the counseling that we do have and the people that are available and we’re adding more people, as we speak it all universities, because it’s such a real thing that has to be addressed and there’s no question about it. I would 100% say that it is real and it is something that has now looked at a little bit different.

(On possibly playing Jared Dawson and Henry Bryant this weekend…)

Well I think Jered Dawson for sure. We’ll take a look on him. He’s a guy who has been on the scout team most of the year. He gives you more sides there at the nose. So, he’s one that will certainly be taking a look at. Henry is not available right now. I don’t think he’ll be available this week.