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Postgame Quotes: Louisville-WKU

Scott Satterfield and company were mostly pleased with their 2020 debut.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Music City Bowl - Mississippi State v Louisville Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Scott Satterfield

“First of all, I want to give Western Kentucky a lot of credit. We knew coming in that they were a really good football team. I have a lot of respect for their staff. They’ve done a phenomenal job. Coming into tonight’s game and that was the two most improved teams in the country last year. They had a ton of experience coming back, guys who are playmakers. We had a lot of respect for them. We didn’t start out great but our guys kept their composure and then we had a great second quarter. I’m proud of the guys for that. We obviously got a lot of things we got to work on to get better. I thought our defense came out and played outstandingly tonight. We put them in a bad situation a few times and they played a great game. They did a great job on third down to get off the field, only gave up maybe a couple of the big chunk plays. It was just a really good effort. The guys played extremely hard out there tonight. Offensively, we did some good things. (Micale) Cunningham had a career-high throwing the football. I give credit to a lot of today’s receivers and then the offensive line too with that. Those guys made some big time plays out there. We needed to be able to throw the ball tonight. They were loading up the box to try and stop the run, which they did a good job of that. So we all we’ve always said if they take that away we have to throw it. We feel good about our guys on the outside so overall super pleased to have that win and be 1-0. I’m looking forward to getting ready for Miami (Fla.).”

(What are your impressions upon the explosive offense we saw today?)

“Yes, absolutely. You can go back to last year, we had a lot of big plays. We just have those kind of guys on the outside, at running back and at quarterback. We have a lot of weapons, and our guys never feel like they’re behind the sticks very much. Even if it’s long yardage, we still feel pretty good about that. They feel like they can get a first down, so I’m really pleased about the big play capabilities that we do have, and the guys made plays. That’s what they did tonight and I know hopefully they’ll be able to do that the rest of the year.”

(About Braden (Smith) making big plays and would Smith and Tutu (Atwell) be on the field at the same time? How much did that open up the offense)

“Yeah, he had a couple of those big plays. We had Dez Fitzpatrick out there, Tutu, Braden. Those guys are hard to defend. Generally, somebody is in single coverage, and Cunningham did a good job of recognizing that on a couple those long balls. Where Braden was one on one and he got he beat his defender. We had great protection on those plays and he was able to hit him and those are big time plays. I think they were both on third down but they were big plays in a game that set us up to go get some touchdowns. He’s a big play threat and he’s a former quarterback. He understands the game and he’s a guy that you could put at different positions. He’s also a really good blocker. He’s not a huge guy but he’s strong. He’s put together well. He did some good things in the blocking game as well.”

(About was his assessment of offensive line after game one of the season)

“I thought at times we did really good and other times we did not do good. We certainly have things we are going to have to work on. We need to get back and watch the film, there’s no question about it. I thought for the most part they did a pretty good job of protecting for in the pass game. In the run game, they were loading up the box. There’s a lot of guys down there. We will have to see what we can do better. There’s some things we can do better. I think, overall, I was pleased. Those two defensive ends are pretty good players. We’re going to play some good defenses this year in the ACC but I thought they have some draftable players on the other ones who are going to have a shot as well in the NFL, they are really good players. I think that was a good gauge for us to look at us because we just had this first game.”

(Thoughts on the second half being a bit slower compared to the first half?)

“I don’t think so. We got in a bind twice. Once in the first and once in a second with our punt team. That certainly is a letdown. In the second half, we just didn’t make as many plays offensively as we have to make. We’ll go back and look at those and make those corrections. You have to be consistent and to be able to do that throughout four quarters. If you want to compete for the ACC, we all know that. Again that’s why you’re pleased when you come in here and you got a big win and then you have things you can go work on.”

(About seeing Russ Yeast get back on the field and make a big play

“It was awesome, what he had to overcome with that injury was unbelievable. At the time when he did it against Syracuse last year, he thought okay maybe it’s a significant injury but he didn’t think it was going to be that bad, but it was bad. He lived in the training the whole time. When we were all back in our homes for those three or four months, he was getting treatment and getting that thing healed up. He was able to come out in camp and had a really good camp. We didn’t allow him to tackle during camp because, obviously, we wanted him to continue to heal and get to that first game. Tonight was really his first time playing live football. Even in the scrimmages,( he played but he didn’t tackle. We were kind of protecting him a little bit, so we are really proud of him tonight. That was a huge play he made tonight in that particular play to get that ball. He’s been a great leader for us, we are really excited for him to get back on that field and play like he did tonight.”

(Talk about the play of Monty Montgomery with a couple big sacks)

“Now Monty’s a big play defense guy, he’s not the tallest linebacker but he’s extremely explosive. He’s got probably the best bend on our defense. When rushing the passer, he can get about three feet off the ground, he’s running full speed and the tackles have a hard time blocking him. He did a tremendous job tonight, there was a big time attacker for loss on a running back. He pressured the quarterback and sacked the quarterback two or three times. He had a really impactful game, we were really pleased to see that out of him. Dorian and CJ are our starting linebackers, but we have ways to get him in the game, we have packages to get him because he’s such a dynamic playmaker. I think he could really have a big year for us, particularly in the pass rush game.”

(About playing a lot of new players, whether on defense or on offense)

“It’s a very unique year to be a newcomer, to come into a college campus, to start college classes in the way we had to start it. To practice the way we’ve had to, make it to the game and then get out there and play. For a lot of these guys, it’s the first time they’ve played for us. They made plays and it was great to see. YaYa had a big play tonight on a tackle for loss. It was awesome to see. What we are trying to do is build more depth and we got some of these guys to come in here and give us more depth. But it hasn’t been easy on the newcomers, that’s for sure. When those guys come in they are big-eyed and they don’t really know what’s getting ready to happen and for them to go out and perform like that. I think it’s because of the way we practice. I mean, in our preparation, we get after it, we are very intense. We try to prepare the guys for anything that may happen in a game so that when they get in the game it’s not going to be a shock for them. The one thing I kept talking to them about all last week was about the speed of the game and how fast the game is going to be when you start playing on Saturday night. But they did a really good job with that tonight and they played fast and they played hard.”

(About the COVID guidelines being a distraction)

“It wasn’t weird, the mask is the only thing that is awful. I guess everybody knows that. It’s not breaking news, but it is hard to breathe out there with a mask. It was humid tonight and rainy, your mask gets wet and it’s a little bit challenging. But I kind of like the 15-yard to the 15-yard line because you get some extra room on the sideline. That’s kind of a new aspect of the game and I like that. But once you kick the ball off, its football and that’s kind of everyone’s safe place, they love being out there. Other than those couple of things it was fun, it was fun getting out there to compete and watch out guys compete and do what they love to do.”

Braden Smith

(About the first catch and being pinned in the red zone)

“You know, it’s surreal. Growing up as a kid, this the moment that you dream about. I’m just thankful the coaches even gave me the opportunity to go out there and make a play and I just tried to do my small role of the team and, you know, make plays when I had the opportunity so I’m just glad it worked out in our favor.”

(About the the number of weapons on offense, particularly the wide receivers)

“It’s ridiculous how many, just how much speed and route running we have at wide receiver. I mean, all nine of us our have the ability to start and to make plays and I think that’s just a testament to the training we do and Coach Brewer, our receiver coach. He does a great job of training us and coaching us up. We feel that we have nine guys that can go out there and make plays at any point in any game. I think that’s a big part of our success that we’re going to have this season.”

(About being backed up at the goal-line when Scott Satterfield called that big play and his confidence in you as an offense?)

“It says a lot. We worked hard all camp, all summer, all spring, to build that confidence in the passing game and for him to give us the opportunity early in the game like that to run out and make plays it feels good. It feels good as a receiver whole and we just try to do our best and make plays on the opportunities we’re given.”

(About used Braden being a former quarterback and how much it helps at wide receiver)

“It definitely helps. You know, just a few things you can pick up on, playing quarterback as far as coverage wise, it helps you. But at the end of the day you’re playing receiver so it doesn’t feel like it’s a game changer. But definitely, as far as looks and coverages that may give you a slight advantage.”

(About ESPN announcing during the game that Game Day is coming here for next weekend.

“You know, it’s a good feeling that it’ll be a big game, a primetime game. But I think for us we can kind of got to avoid that distraction and just play us and do us. We know it’s a big game we have coming and we feel that we have the weapons both offensively and defensively to win that game. So we’ll get back in the lab tomorrow and work on that game.”

(About getting recruited to Louisville, how much did they talk to you about what your playing time would look like or what kind of sold you on Louisville?)

“Well, to be honest, Louisville was the biggest offer I had coming out of JuCo and Coach Brewer, we built a really good relationship all throughout the summer and the spring and it just felt like home to me. He told me, ‘You come here, we knew what we have and just go out there and try to make plays and and things will work themselves out.’ I think he’s done a great job of coaching me and helping me grow as a receiver and I think it’s one of the greatest decision I’ve made as far as football-wise.”

Dorian Etheridge

(Pretty big defensive outing for yourself tonight. I think you ended up leading the team with eight tackles. Talk about your performance overall this evening.)

“Just trying to play more aggressively this year. A lot of the guys around me were just in the right spot, so it allowed me to play faster.”

(Other than the times UofL got pinned back, defense played pretty well. What is your overall thoughts on how you played during the opener.)

“We played solid. We definitely have a lot of things to clean up. It was nothing to hang our heads on tonight. We got put in a couple of bad situations, but we still have more than that to keep them out.”

(About playing faster and knowing the defense)

“For certain. We’ve been focused in, focused in. We’re trying to change the narrative of our defense, and it starts with every game. We’ve been fine-tuning the little things.”

(About [Monty] Montgomery had couple big sacks there. What makes him so difficult for an opposing lineup to slow him down?)

“He’s an explosive guy. He’s a very explosive guy. He just covers ground so fast. By the time you try to make a cut, he’s already on you.”

(Russ [Yeast] has been through a lot with his injury. What was it like to see him back out there? He had that big hit and a fumble. As a teammate, what was it like to see him get back out on the field healthy?)

“My dawg is back. He’s back. When stuff like that happens to you, it can go one of two ways. It can go downhill from there, or you can fight back. He chose to fight back.”

(Does it mean anything special that College GameDay is coming to the Louisville-Miami game)

“This might be the first College Game Day with 12,000 people there. It’s going to be different, but it’s always a pleasure. It’s always a pleasure to have College Game Day there. It’s a big game regardless. This is a team that we didn’t do too well against last year. We definitely need to get this one. They’re a good team with good athletes, and we definitely need to get this one.”

Micale Cunningham

(On the big ball thrown to Braden Smith)

“All week we were lining up in a certain formation and on film, those guys gave us a look where we can take that No. 2 guy on the go route. Pre-snap Coach called it licking your chops, I just dropped back, held the safety, and made a good pass to Braden (Smith) and he did something with it. We were looking forward to that look, on third down, so we attacked it like we did tonight.”

(On if Braden Smith surprised him)

“Honestly, it did not surprise me at all. We knew coming into this game that a lot of guys were going to have to make some plays. We knew that they were going to try and take Tutu (Atwell) away, which they did a pretty good job. Dez (Fitzpatrick), Braden (Smith), and Justin (Marshall) made some plays for us on the outside. We have to play, when they take away our No. 1 guy, to some other guys who have to step up and that’s what they did tonight. It was good to see.”

(On if the touchdown was an interception)

“Honestly, in the game of football you have to get lucky sometimes and Dez (Fitzpatrick) bailed me out on that one. That’s all I’m going to say.”

(On the big plays and too much speed)

“We definitely have a lot of speed, but honestly as a team, we were just ready to get back out there as a team. Waiting around all day until 8 p.m. was really crazy and it was tiring for us. We were so ready to get out there and play and the guys played great on both sides of the ball. O-line did a good job and I want to thank those guys. Hawk (Javian Hawkins) and Hassan (Hall) ran the ball hard today and we made plays on the outside which is what we have to do every week.”

(On College GameDay coming)

“It’s another game on our schedule and we call it ‘ring’ games around here. It’s a good game and those guys put it on us last year. They are coming to our house and we’re looking to defend our house.”

(On if GameDay means anything more)

“No, it doesn’t mean anything to me, it’s just another football game. We’re happy for those guys to be here, but we’re worried about our opponent, not GameDay.”

Russ Yeast

(About what was it like to get that first big hit after the injury and everything?)

“It meant a lot to me just to have a big play like that to get a lot of confidence back and get ready to go for the rest of the game. It was really a wakeup call.”

(You had been through a lot with the injury and everything. Leading up to this game, where were your emotions at after taking nearly a year off?)

“My emotions were everywhere tonight, all types of different places. I was blessed to be back out there on the field and blessed to be around the great group of guys who have pushed me hard to get me back to where I’m at. I was extremely happy to get out there and do what I love.”

(About two or more surgeries. How tough was it for you to get back after all of that)

“I had multiple surgeries. It was extremely difficult, but it wasn’t something I could’ve done on my own. I give credit to the training staff we have here. They did a great job. I give credit to my family. I give credit to my teammates. I couldn’t have done it by myself.”

(Are there additional emotions going that College Game Day is coming into town for your ACC opener against Miami?)

“Not really. For us as a football team, it’s still another football game. I feel that College GameDay is more for the fans to bring a little more excitement to the game. Still for us, it’s still the same thing. We have to prepare for Miami just like anybody else and try to go out there and get a win. We’ve got to block out the noise.”

(About the fumble, you saw that play running down the field. What was running through your mind as that play was unfolding?)

“I have to get him down before he gets in the end zone and try to find a way to keep points off the board for the defense so we can find another down. That’s all that was going through my head.”

(Did you see where the ball went when you hit him?)

“I had a feeling it was going to come out just based on where I hit him. I lined him up pretty well, and I kind of felt that he didn’t have the ball. I just looked up and it was laying there.”

(About being more aggressive this year. How fast were the Cardinals really trying to play in a game like this?

“We’re trying to be aggressive. It’s our second year in the system, so we’re able to play a little bit faster because we know what we’re doing. We still made some mistakes that we need to clean up. I think it’s a good starting point for the defense, but we have a lot to clean up still.”

WKU head coach Tyson Helton

(On Louisville’s big plays in the first half, was their speed or coverage? What did you see?)

“It was a little bit of both. I think we, we had them backed up. We had them in some third and long scenarios and their players made plays. That’s what good players do, they got out there and make plays. They were able to make a couple of big plays on some third and longs, and obviously they hit some shots down the field. That was a goal for us to not give up those big plays, but they still found them. That was the story. Offensively, we didn’t do our part. We really didn’t get much going, here and there. We kind of found our way there at the end, but they (Louisville) pretty much dominated the game the whole time.”

(On Louisville’s ability to convert third downs on the defense, with so many players coming back how much of a concern is that?)

“We’ll see. Every game is a different story. Obviously, it wasn’t good tonight. They are a good football team, a talented team, but I felt that we were in some good positions to be able to stop them and we didn’t get it done. It’s tough also to play defense when you are out there a lot, our offense put our defense out there a lot… We need to make some plays on our own and let our defense get their wind back. A couple of times, they just got tired, and it is not their fault. That is why they call it a team game; we’ve got to help them out offensively.”

(On Tyrrell Pigrome’s play)

“He was okay. He was okay. He had a tough opponent that he had to go against and we all knew that, but I thought he kept his composure for the most part and all those kinds of things. He battled hard. Towards the end there, he got a little tired himself. He had run the ball and scrambled around. He’s got to get better. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Like I told the team, I said ‘hey we’ve all got to do a self-evaluation tonight, coaches, players and say what do we have to get better at. He’ll do that and I expect him to be better in game two than game one. I don’t think there was anything that he did that hurt us personally. I think the scenarios that we put ourselves in is what hurt us. It wasn’t the quarterback. It was the scenarios overall that we put ourselves in. And I’ve got to do a better job overall as an offensive coach. I’ve got to help him out better.”

(Running the ball tonight, you guys were able to pick up more yardage than you did against these guys last year and it seemed like you guys were able to spread the ball around a little bit and give Gaej (Walker) a little bit of depth back there. Was that kind of the plan to get some of those other guys worked in and what do you think of them.)

“We wanted to be able to roll the backs a little bit, not have such a heavy load on Gaej (Walker) and we’d like it to be that way. Gaej is our guy, but we do want to get those other guys involved so we tried to do that. It was a little bit harder, just because we weren’t in a rhythm. We couldn’t really establish a good run game. So that was harder to try to get that rotation in there and get Gaej his touches and all those kind of things. Hopefully, you make the biggest jump from game one to game two and hopefully that’s what we’ll do on all facets and every series.”

(You guys were outgained by a little bit, had some missed opportunities but still in the middle of the fourth quarter you find yourself in the ballgame. What did you think about the fight that your team showed tonight to still put themselves in a position to make it a competitive game in the fourth quarter?)

“Well, we came into the locker room at half time and I didn’t have a long speech, I just said ‘I fully anticipate us to go out there and give ourselves a chance to get back in the game. I want to come out of this game, number one, winning the game but if we can’t come out winning the game then I want to know we played as hard as we could, did all the right things.’ I thought the effort was there, I thought the passion was there. I thought they gained some momentum. They started to make some plays; we did for a short period of time, have an opportunity to get ourselves back in the game. Good football teams find that way to win, and Louisville is a good football team. They were able to answer right back and pulled away from us again. That’s what we have to do next week, we have to do what they did tonight and have control over the game and play great on all three phases.”