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Transcript: Scott Satterfield talks Syracuse win, previews Boston College

The weekly presser transcript is back.

Louisville v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

You can find video of this week’s press conference here

Coach Satterfield Opening Statement

Good afternoon everybody. Reflecting back on Friday night, I was really proud of how our defense played number one. I think they had a great week of preparation and a great plan and our guys really executed, particularly on third downs getting off the field. I think that Syracuse got their first third down conversion on the last drive there. They were able to get off the field and offensively we were able to occupy the clock, we had close to 42 minutes of total possession time. The offense was really good on third down as well, but I was disappointed still with the turnovers. Special teams wise, we created two turnovers, and they got the ball back for us. I thought those guys really played well. They were flying around with a lot of energy Friday night, which was awesome to see and to get the big win like that. I thought that yesterday we had a good practice, guys spirits were great, and we are looking forward to playing this week against a Boston College team, that is, playing really well this year. They had tough schedule and are still just sitting there 5-4 and have been in every game. They are throwing the ball more this year than they did last year, of course last year, with (AJ) Dillon at running back they liked to run the ball a lot more. This year, they are throwing the ball more, scoring a lot of points; Zay Flowers and Hunter Long are two big weapons they have there. Defensively. I think they are much improved on the defensive side of the ball. They are very aggressive, they play hard, and they play fast. The defense does a lot of things that disrupt offenses, so I think certainly it will be a great game and great challenge for our guys and we are looking forward to going to play at their place.

(Coach Satterfield on schedule changes)

Yeah, it’s not ideal. We changed the schedule three times last week I think, from playing on Friday night at Boston College, to playing Wake Forest on Saturday, and now playing Boston College on a Saturday, and Wake gets kicked all the way back to December 19th. It is certainly not ideal to have a three-week layoff. I don’t really fully understand how and why we got to this point, but obviously I had no control over that, so it is what it is. We will make the most out of it. This week we are focused on Boston College and playing those guys. It is Thanksgiving this week, so the schedule is a little bit different, but it is good thing that we are here now for Thanksgiving on Thursday. Like I said, it is what it is, there are things that we can’t control and can’t worry about. All we can do is control what we do every single day, and this week is getting ready to play Boston College.

(Coach Satterfield on the how to manage the three-week break after Boston College)

We will obviously address that after this week once we go play Boston College, but yeah there is a three-week time turnaround time, as we sit here today, we will approach that as if we are getting ready for a bowl game because that’s basically about the time that you would have for that. You have to have a good balance between practicing and giving some guys time off, so we will do that. We won’t practice every day, obviously, we are looking at it now, probably practicing three or four times those two weeks. The game week will be a normal game week as we lead up to the game, but the two weeks prior to the game week will probably be maybe a three-practice week and giving them a few days off. They also have exams that that first week in December as well to finish up the semester strong with.

(Injury update on Mashon Ford and on the performance of the newcomers against Syracuse…)

Yeah, I thought they played well. I was really proud of the way (Duane) Martin played. That was his first significant action at the tight end position and we got him out there and he did good. He blocked well and had a couple of catches, had that the one drop you don’t as first one, but other than that I thought he played a really good game and particularly as a true freshman first time really playing, he’s a big strong guys got soft hands, about got to touchdown on down to the goal line. He did a good job of trying to run and get it in there and really. He had another opportunity had Malik (Cunningham) thrown at him, I think he probably would have scored. I think in the end, he played a solid game. It was good to see more depth out there (Francis) Sherman got in there. (Marshon) Ford is back before practice Sunday, and he’s back so essentially now what five tight ends we’ll have all our guys for this week. As we move forward to Boston College which is good to have that kind of depth at that position now and since we do play a lot of a lot of those guys out there in the game.

(Do you think your team could still go to a bowl?)

Well, I really haven’t got to guys as other than the fact that you can’t go to a bowl game, we know, even though you don’t have six wins this year. Obviously we know the ups and downs of this season so far and I was looking today, I mean we have to get to teams has only played seven games to this point right now. I do think it’s going to be challenging as we move forward the next four weeks to get to December 19 to see exactly how many games have, we played. As you look back this past weekend, I know as a minimum of 15 games that were postponed or canceled and it may have been more than that. That’s over 30 teams as you’re looking at right there and I don’t think it’s going to get much better as we move forward. Just with the uptick in the cases and of course contact tracing is going to come into play so it’s going to be very challenging as we move through December to get all these games. I see why they made the decision to where if you don’t have a winning record you still could go because I mean how many teams are going to be available anyway with enough wins because you’re not even going to play that many games. I think across country and so to as far as Louisville was concerned with bowls I’m not sure I don’t know how that’s going to play out or pan out and I haven’t heard anything so I think we still have a long time between now and then. I think they’re probably waiting to see how many games are played as we move forward and so again we’re going to focus on Boston College and go try to play our very best game of the season this weekend.

(Are you using the bowl game as a way to persuade your players to not opt out of the season?)

Well I think there’s obviously a chance we could be playing in a bowl game. I again it’s too far out for me to sit here and think about that. I think we want to focus on Boston College and keep our guys engaged and focused on that and then we’ll see where we’re at because as we’ve all seen, I’ve talked about in the last couple weeks, guys not playing or not finishing the season I don’t know what will happen with our guys. As we a three week layoff there before the Wake Forest game and then if you do play in a bowl game when is that going to be, a week later from that? Maybe 10 days, I don’t know. So plan the 19th, you’re still kind of in your in playing shape. You’ve been around so, it certainly makes a little bit more sense I think that you could play it again the next week in a bowl game so I think we’ll just kind of see how it goes. Over the next couple of games and then and then we’ll kind of go from there.

(On Maurice Burkley’s performance…)

It’s a great story of perseverance of fighting of continuing to have a dream that you want to go play power five football and to walk on this program, to earn a scholarship, and earn respect from your teammates, then go out there and actually play and start with the starting running back. I was proud of him the way he goes out and compete because he’s on several special teams as well. He understands our offense the ins and outs of it, and he ran hard, and he ran hard all year really when he gets an opportunity. I think he goes in and plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Nothing flashy, but I think the way he runs his style is a is a bruising running back. He’s hard to bring down. I Think defenders know they’ve been hit whenever they do try to tackle him and so really happy for him to be to work as hard as he has to be able to get in that that spot of starting and being the starting one and back.

(Talk a little bit about Boston College. Defensively, they’ve got some linebackers that really cause a lot of headaches. When you’re preparing for them, what are you expecting from the Eagles defensively?)

When you first turn the film on, very aggressive defense. They play hard, they play fast. 55 and 14 are two linebackers I think that make the most plays in their defense. Their defensive line is active, not overly huge up front but they make a lot of movement, they really utilize their hands well, and their speed and their quickness. They free up those two linebackers 55 and 14, and I think this year compared to last year, they play a lot more man in the back end. They’re trying to lock up guys, putting pressure on quarterbacks, getting the ball out of his hands quickly. And it’s really shown. You go back to last year, we had a pretty good day offensively against them. On defense, I think it’s a completely different defense this year. A lot of the same players, but the scheme and the way they’re approaching it is a lot different. I think that’s why they’ve had a huge improvement this year.

(Scott, in typical 2020 fashion, you’re going to have a game week and a signing day in the same week within like four days later in the month of December. How fortunate do you feel that you’ve gotten most of the hard work out of the way with this class because you don’t have to deal with it now in the final few weeks when you’re going to be preparing for a game?)

Well, this has been obviously one of the most challenging years for everybody. And in recruiting, it has been challenging as well because these guys, and I feel for these recruits throughout the country because they’ve not really been able to be on campus, they’ve not been able to do anything like we’ve done in the past as far as all the visits that we used to have and then even no official visits on top of that. And all of a sudden now, the signing date’s coming around. But I think the thing that we have been able to do this year, more so than we’ve ever done before, is all the video calls that we’ve been able to do. Whether it be one-on-ones or in a group setting, we’ve got a great relationship with our guys that are committed to us and that feel strongly about what we’re trying to do here and we’re excited about getting them on board. There’s probably close to half that’ll be here in January. And that’s going to be really quickly now that we’re almost to December, with the signing date around the corner and then a couple weeks later, they’re going to be here. We’re excited about that. We’ve felt really good about this group for a long time now. And now we’re coming down to the wire. And it’s going to be here in a couple weeks, and we’re looking forward to that day when we can get these guys signed up, and then move forward with them. We tell them that each and every week we talk to them.

(Boston College is known as a team that plays a real physical brand of football, but with the coaching change, do you still see that or have they changed the way they’re going about things?)

Yeah, they’re back to that black and blue ‘get after it’ type of football. Very physical and fast, but then when you look on the offensive side, it’s a little bit different. Change of pace compared to last year. As I mentioned earlier, last year, they were running that football. They didn’t care how many guys were in the box, they were still going to run it. Their offensive line is a lot of the same guys, and they’re very good up front. But I think with the quarterback this year, he’s put up some of the best numbers out there this year, and when he’s on target, he’s one of the better quarterbacks out there. He’s got good size, and he’s accurate, got a good arm. I mentioned Hunter Long, one of the best tight ends in the country. As a receiving tight end, he’s outstanding. It doesn’t matter who he’s matched up against, he’s a tough matchup for defenses the way he utilizes his body and has great hands. And then Zay Flowers is a speed guy, utilizing a lot of speed sweeps. He can run verticals, double moves, and just catch the hits on the outside and take it up the field for a lot of yards. So I think they utilize their weapons very well offensively, it’s just a different approach. It’s not the way they used to do it in the past, with running the football as much as they did. Now they kind of dabble in the run, but they’re throwing the football and getting it in the hands of the playmakers on the outside.

(What’s your approach the your current running backs situation?)

I do think it’s situational, a bit. It also has to do with how we practice throughout the week. I mentioned this last week, I thought we’d see all those guys carrying the football, and we did. We got to see everybody do that. They all different strengths in how they go about things. I do think it’s an advantage in the sense that they can stay fresh. We can rotate guys and keep them fresh in the game. They had 11, 10 and nine carries, the three main (running backs). (Jalen) Mitchell had a couple really nice catches on third down. They got first downs. One of them was an outstanding catch. It was great to see him making catches out of the backfield but also run really hard along with (Maurice) Burkley.

Then, Hassan Hall is a change-of-pace guy. He really hasn’t played very much, but he’s kind of getting back in the swing of things. He had a couple cuts where he lost his balance. Once he gets his legs back under him he’s going to be a lot better, but he did have some explosive runs. He can catch the ball in the backfield as well. I do think with all those guys, it does give you something that defenses have to work on that’s a little bit different with each back.

(Boston College forces a lot of turnovers. Is there anything you can do to protect the ball a little bit better?)

They do cause turnovers because of their aggressiveness. They play so much man, so they’re going to be around the ball a lot more than a team that plays a lot of zone. They’ve gotten after guys with that, whether that be rushing the passer and making quarterbacks fumble or tipped balls. Also, when the carriers are down the field, as well as receivers one-on-one, they’re able to strip those balls and get tips.

It comes back to your game plan, and what we have to do is get back tomorrow and Wednesday and really hone in on what we have to do and coach our guys up about how much we have to protect this football when your in traffic and when you’re not. We have to watch film and see where the danger zones may be from that defense. But again, their aggressiveness is why they force so many turnovers, and they need to be commended for that.

(How much of a motivating factor is the mere fact that you’re still able to play football right now?)

If you’re out and about like right now everything’s kind of shutting back down again. We still get an opportunity to come into practice and play this great game. It’s an escape for our guys, I can tell you that. Friday night, they had a ball out there playing. And I think our fans did. Our fans that were here, I think they’re excited about being here because there’s not a lot going on. Now restaurants are shut down here in Louisville. There’s not as much going on out in the community and everybody’s saying to stay away from everybody. So I think this is a great escape for our fans and also these athletes to be able to come and play a sport that they love to play, and they love to compete.

I do think it’s frustrating when games do get cancelled, as I mentioned earlier. Like all those games this past weekend, and I’m sure we’re going to see some more. But we keep our fingers crossed and each day we come here we’re doing our testing and we hope we stay negative on our testing results so we’re able to continue to play and get on the field. That’s one of the things I like having games back-to-back weeks: you stay in a good routine. After we play this Saturday, we have a three-week turnaround and layover. So we’re going to have weeks in there where we have a couple days off, so what are your guys doing then? So you do worry about that, trying to get to that point. But we’ll cross those bridges when we get to those weeks.