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Scott Satterfield updates team status, previews Virginia

It’s been an interesting(?) week in the world of Louisville football.

Louisville v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Here’s a transcript of this week’s Scott Satterfield press conference. You can find the video of the presser here.

Scott Satterfield Opening Statement

First of all, after we had to pause the last few days, we tested. On Friday, the whole organization tested again. Yesterday we had zero positives from any of our athletes as well as Friday. Yesterday we had zero positive total and we were able to practice last night. It was a good practice last night and then of course we’re testing again today. We’ll probably test I think maybe four times this week just to make sure we’re all headed in the right direction as we think we are. Today is our off day. We’re back to a normal routine now as far as practicing on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, travel day on Friday, and be ready to go on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. So, we were excited about being able to get back out on the field yesterday, last night and we waited really until we got all the results back before we even met with our guys. We didn’t meet yesterday until 4:30 p.m. It is kind of unique situation. Obviously, we game planned all last week for Virginia and then of course we hit pause and now you’re right back on and again this week that having, most of all the work pretty much done. You’re kind of just refining the game plan and kind of moving forward with everything, so we’re back on schedule.

(Did you make any changes during the unexpected bye week for the Virginia game?)

We stayed away as well. We put a pause on things, we only came into test. Everybody was in their homes and our guys were back at their apartments and we didn’t want to take a chance of anybody being in the building, so we did all that. You don’t want to over analyze an opponent. I’ve never been in favor of that even when even when you’ve had a long time or two weeks to prepare for a team. You don’t ever want to overanalyze, because I think it ends up being information overload. You start putting too many plays in offensively and defensively in the kicking game and for us, we didn’t do any of that. We watch film and you just keep your mind fresh about who you get ready to play about things that are going on, , but really, you just stick with what you have in the game plan and now as we as we start back to practice this week. Last night, you’re looking at those plays and the different things and there is going to be some tweaks here and there. Maybe things didn’t look as good and so you better refine them a little bit but you’re not going to do any kind of overhauling and it really changed or add a whole lot to the game plan.

(With all the testing, does that change an approach to when you have guys tested positive and do you still have any players in quarantine?)

It really doesn’t change. I mean I think we’ve had our plan from day one about how we go about things and how we do things. We continue doing the same things you’re obviously just very cognizant of what’s going on and what’s happening right around our building and so the guys and our coaches I think are just more aware, and just making sure I think the biggest thing and all this is making sure you have enough distance between the next person. Whether it be in the building around a field I mean obviously when you’re playing football, you’re going to have some contact but when you’re not, , making sure you have some of that distance there, and obviously in the building, we’re all wearing masking and we’re staying away. To answer your question, on quarantine, yes we still have several that are not available that are in quarantine. , there’s obviously protocols for that. If you’re in quarantine, it’s 14 days. If you’re positive, then it’s a minimum of 10 days with that and so yeah there’s going to be guys that that are still there in quarantine. We’ll see as the week goes on if we have anybody available.

(Is it just players in quarantine or staff members as well?)

Both players and staff members are still in the quarantine and it’s probably as we look past Virginia, that following week is when most will be back available after this game.

(Coach Satterfield on returning to the level the level of focus)

This makes it a lot more difficult. As you think back to the Notre Dame game, I thought we played very well in that game. We came up a little bit short with the five-point loss, 7-12. Then we go back and play Florida State; we were hitting on all cylinders during that week. I thought we had a great week as heading into Virginia Tech, we were looking to build off of the week before and everything was going smoothly, then Friday hit. You wake up Saturday morning for game day and now have all kinds of adversity in your face. It hurt losing a lot of players particularly on the defensive side of the ball, but also, it hurt the psychological side of the team. It was a letdown right before the game, and then to we had to go out there and play. We did not play great, still had an opportunity to win the game, and were right there in it at the end of the game. Then this hits this last week and now you have to push back, so I feel like it is one thing after another once we start to get things going. You have all this change and the routine is not the same. It makes it a lot more challenging and obviously we are trying to hone all that in and refocus. We can’t control some of the things that have happened with the virus but whoever’s here, whoever is available, they have to have their mind here, and not on something else and not worried about this or that. We have to focus on being here in the now and putting all our efforts into being the best team we can be.

(Coach Satterfield on whether this is a good matchup to get Cunningham and the passing attack going…)

We certainly want to be very efficient in throwing the football. We know that there is going to be opportunities there because there are every week, no matter who we play. Virginia does a great job of containing a run, conversely, they have given up some yards in the passing game. I think a lot of times it is difficult to be great at both. I think they have sold out on trying to stop the run, but still have done a great job of creating pressure and getting sacks. They were able to sack North Carolina five times last week. (Charles) Snowden, number eleven, has had tremendous last two weeks. He has been really, really good with seven and a half tackles for loss and I think five sacks over the last two weeks. They put pressure on quarterbacks, but to answer the question, we want to continue to progress our passing game. (Malik) Cunningham has some good games and we look back at the last game where he threw 350 yards and got us back in the game, hopefully we will be able to get that going early in this game and be able to hit some plays down the field. We still want to be able to run the football, find ways to run, but I think obviously the passing game has been an integral part of what we are doing and we have to be able to get the ball down the field and score points.

(Two-part question. One, do you expect to be shorthanded on defense again this week? And if so, doesn’t that have an impact in your game planning? Wouldn’t you want to run the ball a little more, just to reduce the pressure on the defense?)

I think we’re going be pretty much the same, which is shorthanded. Particularly up front. As you look back to Virginia Tech, with five defensive linemen, obviously we’re now preparing for that. But there are going to be guys that have not played very much there up front that may have to get reps. We’ll see how the game goes. We’ll certainly be a little bit more shorthanded on that side of the ball again. And you’re right, we got to find a way to win the game and to try to help our defense out. And what does that entail as we get into there? As a staff, those are things that we’re looking at. How can we help those guys out on that side of the ball? Obviously, if we can score points and touchdowns on offense, that’s going to help. But if you can limit possessions for them, obviously that’s something that certainly can help. And if we can find ways to somehow create some turnovers. That’s where we’ve been very deficient in the last four games. Creating turnovers. I think maybe one at the Pitt game. There hasn’t been many. We had one in the Florida State game. I mean it hasn’t been many over the last four or five games. So trying to create some pressure there so we can get some turnovers. But even in special teams and offense, what can we do to maybe try to steal possessions, and to occupy the ball to where Virginia is limited in their offensive production.

(Scott, two questions. First of all, do you expect to have all of your coaches available this weekend? And what was last night like after having to pause and not knowing until middle of the day after you tested and all that. Once you got the guys back last night, what was the energy level like?)

The first question is yes, we have all our coaching staff available. The second part of that is, it’s been tricky for our guys because we practice Wednesday night, then all of a sudden, they’re getting texts from us saying ‘guys, we’re putting a pause on things.’ and really, not a whole lot of explanation. They know why, but really there’s not a whole lot of explanation other than the fact we said ‘guys, we’re going to be testing Friday and Sunday and then we’ll practice Sunday if everything goes according to plan.’ Meaning there aren’t any positives. For our guys, it was a little bit of ‘what are we doing?’ Because they’ve seen other schools throughout the country. Whenever they’ve paused things, sometimes it’s been a week, two weeks where they’ve had a lengthy pause. We came back after about four days and. But it was good. I think initially when we first had our meeting, our guys were kind of looking around saying ‘what are we doing?’, but then once we got into it and got to practice, I thought the guys were flying around and we had a very productive practice. There was a little bit more Sunday of what we did more than what a normal Sunday would be. We went shoulder pads and helmets and went for about an hour and 20 minutes, where we usually on a Sunday may go 30, 35 minutes. So we went a little bit more. Two reasons, number one since we had so many days off there kind of get them back going again. And also just so we could get some extra work. We already had the game plan in, so we already knew the things we wanted to do play-wise on both sides of the ball.

(Coach Ledford when he was on last week was talking about needing to get off to a faster start and you have in a lot of previous games or some previous games, and how important that is. Can you put your finger on why you have had some problems, starting fast offensively, and just how big a concern is that to you?)

Obviously, if we could put our finger on it we would certainly put it right on it and then come out hitting on all cylinders right at the start. When teams come out in your first play of the game, you’re trying to figure each other out a little bit. This last game, we got sacked on the first play and then on third down we get a first down but we get called for a holding penalty so then you’re having to punt. It’s such a momentum gain if we can get off, get some points on the board early as an offense then, it obviously helps your defense because now your defense feels like ‘okay, we got a little bit of a lead here, now let’s cut loose and play. If we make a mistake, and they score, what does it really hurt? We’re still in this game. We’re still going to be a tied ballgame.’ Once you get behind like we did, like we have a couple of games this year, now you’re just looking to try to force it and get the ball down the field and try to score quickly and try to get back in the game. If we can get some stuff going early I think it helps our psyche, it obviously helps momentum, I think our kids play a lot better that way and it really, really changes the course of the game. Instead of waking up and playing the last three quarters, we got to wake up from the start and play right initially on the first drive.

(Have you had any luck in tracing the source of the outbreak?)

No, not really. The one player, a freshman that was positive that one day, it seems like it’s stemmed from him, from that initial test positive. But other than that, we really have not found anything, and we’ve had some staff members. I think Vince (Tyra) touched on that a little bit last Wednesday.

Really, who knows where that came from. We all go back to our homes and wives are going to jobs and all kinds of other things. Who knows, really, where it comes from. The fortunate thing for us is we feel like we’re kind of back under control now with nobody testing positive Sunday and hopefully today. We haven’t gotten the results back today. But you really don’t know exactly where it’s coming from.

What has stood out about young players who have had to step up during this time?

As a young player you just have to grow up right in front of our eyes, really. Dezmond Tell has played a lot at nose (tackle). That’s helping out (Jared) Goldwire there so he can get a breather. He’s one that’s sort of stood out for us.

It’s interesting to see how these guys… you never know when you’re going to get your opportunity. For some of us out here on the field, your opportunity is coming a lot sooner than maybe you anticipated it. So you have to be mentally ready and obviously physically ready. But some of them need to be mentally ready to go out and play and not have any mistakes because obviously that gets us beat.

If you’re not ready to go out there and play, you’re going to get exposed. We’re playing too many good football teams with good coaches and players and they’ll find you. More than anything. The mental aspect of that has to continue to get better for those young guys when they do get an opportunity.

It’s really all about the preparation. As a young player, you think about high school you show up and play and a lot of times you’re going to look pretty good. Once you get to this level you will get exposed if you’re not mentally ready to go. You have to know exactly what your assignment is and what you have to do. Then mentally, you have to be ready to play at a high level; 100 percent effort every single time. That’s the key with any young player.

How do you think your special teams unit has progressed this year?

Yeah, we have a lot of those guys. I think you look at some teams and they have one kid who can kind of do it all. We kind of spread it out and several different guys have different roles in what they’re doing.

Brock (Travelstead) has been our main guy kicking the ball off. I think, he has done a great job, which was a great unknown for us coming into the season in kicking field goals. I mean, he’s done a very, very good job. I get to watch him every day in practice and he is very solid. I mean what has he missed, I think two over 50, maybe this year. He’s done a great job kicking field goals for us. We’ve had to play two punters. I mean there have been five different kickers for us this year who have had to have jobs for us and help us.

They’re continuing to get better. It would be nice if we had one guy to do it all, but at least we have several guys that can have their roles on this team and continue to do a good job.