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Scott Satterfield talks Miami loss, previews Pitt

Louisville v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Video available here

Coach Satterfield Opening Statement

Yeah, first of all the sun did come back up yesterday. I thought we had a really good practice yesterday getting right back after it after a tough loss. There are a lot of things that we have to get better at but our guys came out yesterday with really good attitudes and were ready to get back to work. We have a good challenge this week versus Pittsburgh, they are a very well coached football team, sitting there at 2-0, 1-0 in the ACC and it will be a good first road game. We have a lot of respect for them and Coach (Pat) Narduzzi, and what they have been able to accomplish there. Pittsburgh is an outstanding defensive team and the offense is very efficient. We have to have a great week of practice to be able to go up there and compete. We know it will be a challenge for this week.

(Coach Satterfield on areas where the team must improve this week…)

The disappointing things last Saturday were the big plays, three of them resulted in touchdowns and that is 21 points right there and we lost by 13. That was their big yardage plays and we have to get better at limiting those. We cannot just give up those big plays, the way that we were lined up and not doing what we were supposed to do. It does not take much talent to score on those particular plays, but obviously Miami had a lot of talent and were able to score. That goes for anyone that we play from this point forward in our conference. They all have players, and they all have guys they can take it the distance. There are also a lot of smart coaches in this league that know if you have a weakness, they are going to take advantage of it. We have got to do a better job at being where we are supposed to be and covering our assignments. We were trying to do something that we did not have to, and what ends up happening is that you try to overcompensate for somewhere where you think you are weak, and then the offense exposes you because you are not where you are supposed to be. So we have to do a much better job of being where we are supposed to be, and if we get beat on a play and we are where we are supposed to be and they were just better than us on that play then so be it but we have to make the offense earn it. That is one of the areas that we have got to be better at. It was disappointing in the first half with our third downs conversations on offense and not picking up some of those first downs because we feel that if we picked those first downs, then we get at least three more downs and we have enough playmakers that we think we can go score. We have got to get touchdowns, I hate kicking field goals, we had to kick way too many fields goals last Saturday night. We have to get in the endzone more and get more points on the board. There are several things that we have got to get better at, there is no question about it. We’re still early in the season and we are working toward that.

(Coach Satterfield on Pittsburgh’s defense and what makes them so impressive…)

I think that number one, the defense keeps it pretty simple in what they do. They not do a lot of exotic things; they have four down linemen that I think are as good of a unit as anyone that we will play. They have two big defensive ends that can rush the passer, the defensive tackles are very solid on the inside. They are going to put pressure on your offense a lot with those four. Then as you mentioned, the free safety (Paris) Ford is an outstanding tackler but he also can cover. He is an amazing football player. The defense can lock you down on the outside with their corners. They play a lot of man to man and let the rest of the linebackers and safeties fit the run. They are a very aggressive defense, the linebackers play downhill, so they are able to continually put pressure on offenses to whole game. It does not matter you can turn on film from any game, that is just a Narduzzi type defense. They have done an outstanding job there; he has been doing it for many years. That it, the defense has good pass rushers, the corners can cover man to man and the other guys can handle the run. It’s not complicated, but they are good, they are very good at what they do. You have to earn everything, there will not be any freebies, it is a very solid defense.

(Coach Satterfield on the offensive line and how they have handled the first two weeks…)

Yeah, no question about it, we started off with Western Kentucky, who we thought had a very solid defensive line, then of course Miami, with the two defensive ends they have and they defensive tackles. We thought that front was really good as well. I think that our guys have played good up front. We did a decent job of protecting the passer on a Saturday. There were a couple that we gave up, one of fourth down and one where Cunningham was trying to get outside the pocket and ended up fumbling the football which was recorded as a sack. I think the guys have done a good job. I think that players like Renato Brown has done a great job, particularly as a freshman. He has really good feet. He played his tail off the other night and (Adonis) Boone has done a great job for us also. I think overall our offensive line has did a really good job, especially against Miami’s really good defense. We were able to run the football, Hawkins had a big night for us, and were able to throw the ball down the field pretty good as well so overall our offensive line has done very solid job. We know it doesn’t get any easier this week, as you mentioned this could be the best defensive line in ACC and so it will be a huge challenge for our guys up front, and we got to do a great job of blocking them. It doesn’t stop, everyone that we are playing this year, we feel like has a great defensive line.

(Coach Satterfield on Pittsburgh’s offense…)

Coach (Mark) Whipple is their offensive coordinator, he has been around a long time including the NFL and head coach at UMASS. We face him before, he does a really good job at keeping the offensive sets unbalance. Over 50 percent of their offensive plays, be either attack a certain side or some sort of form of unbalanced where they are trying to outflank the defense with their unbalanced sets. I think (Kenny) Pickett is a very underrated player, he threw for over 3000 yards last year. He is very solid in doing exactly what they wanted to do within their offense. If they do not make mistakes on offense, then they feel like they are going to be in every game with how their defense plays. They can also run the football. They try to outflank you with their formations. They run the football well, the next thing you know, here comes a play action where try to get your secondary off kilter out there so they free up one of their guys down the field and Pickett is going to hit him. They do a really good job and they have a good scheme. I think what they do is their offense fits well what their defense does and how solid the defense is and that is a big reason why they have been successful there at Pittsburgh.

(On the depth in the secondary…)

We’re trying to get them ready. I think it’s tough, you don’t really get ready by trial by fire because if you get out there and the next thing you give a big play, which obviously we don’t want so a lot of it goes back into practice. I mean we’re competing in practices and everything that we’re doing we’re trying to develop depth. We are trying to develop more guys that we can put out there on the field, for several reasons really, but I mean to put the best playmakers on the field. I think you do a lot of that through in practice. The guys are coming along, you mentioned (Josh) Minkins getting some time in there. Minkins is starting to do a better job in practice. I think he’s going to be a good young player for us. We have a couple young corners out there that are practicing well. Also, hopefully as we go through the season we’ll be able to get those guys in and get him some playing time to get their feet wet. These guys are very conscientious smart players, but they’re having to learn quickly in practice. They will get an opportunity this year.

(On the defense running three…)

I think we certainly need to get better when we do only watch three or four guys in the pass rush because if you’re doing that you’re not getting to the quarterback and he’s able to stand back there all day. It’s just hard to cover these guys in this league. They can run for a long period of time so you feel like you kind of get caught there if do you bring pressure, but the more pressure you can give with rushing three or rushing four, that’s just going to obviously help our defense tremendously. We got some guys we’re trying to build. We brought YaYa (Diaby) who we’re trying to build more depth there to try to be able to rush the passer. We still got to get a lot better there. We’re not where we need to be up front wise right now. We have got to get better in that aspect.

(On Malik Cunningham’s performance…)

He knows he’s got to make the plays. We expect him to make every play. We have high expectations at the quarterback position and if you just look on the surface at the stats, you’re like “oh the quarterback had a solid game.” Well, but he missed several plays out there. We got improve and you mentioned the touchdown which there was a wide open receiver in the back of the endzone. We got to hit that, he threw an interception, We had Dez (Fitzpatrick) wide open on a flat. We got to hit him right now instead of scrambling out and he ended up throwing a pick. He’s got to be able to get better at it. We again have high expectations and expect him to play at a high level, every single week now. Was it a good game, yeah he had a good game. I mean there’s no question about it. He threw for over 300 yards and we scored some points against we think is a really good Miami defense, but he is expected to play better than that.

We also have to score touchdowns. We missed out by scoring field goals. A lot of our offense comes back to the quarterback and his decision making in the running game and the passing game. He’s got to do better with that and again he handled it great. He knows he wants to play a great game every single week. Hopefully he’s going to continue to get better and continue to grow from everything that he’s doing and we want him to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and there’s no question that I think he will get there.

(About no fans against Pitt…)

We’ve addressed it and we’ve talked about a bunch. Things we can’t control we don’t worry about it. You watch these NFL games, they really don’t have any fans either. What they’re using now with this ambient noise, sounds like a crowd is there. When you’re playing football or coaching football you really don’t look up in the stands really. All you do is kind of hear so, so they are playing that noise to the speaker so it kind of sounds like there’s a packed house, but this will be the first game that we will fly to a game with zero fans. We hope they’ll just go out and play football and focus on their job, which is for them to make plays, and do their assignments. Hopefully it will won’t be a big deal.

(On Hassan Hall’s health and Jordan Watkins development…)

Yeah. We’ll see about Hassan (Hall). He will be listed as day to day this week. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go by the end of the week and that’s why Jordan took those reps. We feel like he’s a playmaker. He’s a good football player. He got a big catch and again got a first down on a third down. He’s coming along each and every week and again he’s learning everything that we’re trying to do. He’s getting better at it and still got a lot to learn, but he does have talent he plays hard. We love the way he plays. Hopefully as the season progresses, he’ll get more and more time offensively and get in there and I know he won’t sit. I think he’ll be able to do that. It’s just about learning exactly what we need for him to do and he’s getting better at it.

(On plan concerning a positive COVID test…)

Yeah we’ve talked about it, and you certainly have to have a plan for if something like that happens and you never know. What my understanding is was that (Florida State head coach Mike Norvell) is asymptomatic but he still tested positive. Obviously this unique situation that we’re dealing with this year. We’re teams not being able to play and cancelling games on a Thursday. It’s kind of crazy. We really are living in day-to-day times right now. If something like that happens we have a plan in place. I really feel like we got a great staff here and a lot of great coaches. If it’s me then I think our guys are being great shape to be able to handle everything with what we want offensively and as a team. Obviously best case scenario nothing happens to us then we’re all we’re all available each and every week. But it’s a unique challenge for everybody. It’ll be interesting to see how (Florida State) handles it this week. I think they play Miami this week, so that’ll be interesting to see how they handle it.

(On facing a pocket passer for the first time this season…)

Even though it’s not considered a duel threat, he still can take it down and get some yards. I mean, he’s not scared to run. So you still have to continue to cover your gaps and anything that may be doing.

They also have potential to go wildcat where they can put a running back that catches the snap. They’re quarterback has been known to do that as well. So there’s a lot of things you have to teach your defense to be fundamentally sound in everything, all aspects.

So although he’s not considered a big-time runner like the first two guys that we (faced)… you can change your defense a little bit in that regard to where maybe you don’t have to keep as many in the box if they do spread your formation out. But I think just in general terms, you’re still going to play your defense, you’re still going to have your same gaps and defend everything that you have to defend within the scheme of their offense.

(On the challenges of travelling during a pandemic…)

I’ve mentioned this the whole time about the procedures that we have in place. Again, Matt Summers and his team to have done a phenomenal job. As we go traveling, if you think about home games, we’re still getting on our buses, and we’re still going to the hotel. All our operation will be the same with that. The difference in this particular game will be that we’ll have to go on a plane. We will take some precautions with that.

We’re not going to be eating on the plane. Everybody’s going to be having their mask on. We’re trying to spread out as much as we possibly can within the plane. If we keep our mask on and do not eat and do not take (the mask) off… Most of our guys when they get on a plane they’re kind of sleeping anyway. Hopefully we’ll be safe.

At the same time, we’re still testing I do throughout the whole week. We continue to do that on a weekly basis. We feel like it’s the safest we possibly can be with everything that’s going on with this virus. Our guys have done a great job with that and we’ll continue to do that. Like I said, the only main difference here is the plane and the travel with the plane. What we understand is that the plane travels now with the way they’re moving the air within the plane, it’s constantly moving. We feel pretty safe about that.

(On defense growing and limiting mistakes in the second year…)

Well, I hope so. We did the first game. Obviously this game right here (against Miami) we did let those three big plays go to the house. We can’t have that. We’re getting better. We just have to continue to prove it in the game on a game-by-game basis. Ultimately, that’s what we’re going to be judged by. When you look at the end of the game, how did we do? How many yards do we give up? And more importantly, how many points do we give up? We have to continue to try to lessen the points and not give up so many points. We scored whatever we scored the other night, over 30 points, and still we end up losing by a couple of touchdowns. We just have to do a better job with that.

Everybody in this league can score. They all have good, solid players and good quarterbacks. This league from top to bottom may have the best quarterbacks in the country when you just look at who’s leading the league. So we have to do a better job with it. We are continuing to grow and we are getting better and I think at the end of the season when we look back on it, this will be a better defense than last year. But we have to continue to improve that each and every week.

(On Javian Hawkins’…)

Man, I told our team when you go to a game and there’s one guy we’re going to take, it’s going to be Hawkins because he plays his butt off each and every rep. He’s not the biggest running back in the world. 185 pounds. But he had 27 carries, incredible. He’s also the guy that got the onside kick at the end.

He is exactly what you want as a competitor to have on the football field. He wanted the ball. He wanted to ball more, and he got he got to hit hard throughout the night as you can imagine. We love the way plays.

He’s an inspiring player. The guys want to play around him. They want to block for him. They feed off of his enthusiasm the way he can run. I mean, the run that he made where he started off to the right, spun around and outflanked the defense and scored a touchdown against Miami. I mean, you see that in high school sometimes and then when guys get to college people say you can’t do that in college. These guys are too good. The kid can run, and he outflanked the whole defense for a touchdown. That’s big-time impressive. He’s a big-time player. He’s just continued to get better and better. It’s hard to beat what he did last year as a running back, one of the best in the country, and he’s doing it again this year. We’ll continue to lean on him and continue to give him the football because he makes plays.