Spring practice has come and gone, and unlike a year ago, Louisville was able to complete a full session.
Here’s what Scott Satterfield had to say about the start to the 2021 Cardinal football season.
Video available here
Just finished up day 15 In spring ball, middle of March here. A lot of good stuff, a lot of good work that we got out of this spring. I thought - very good energy throughout the whole spring on both sides of the ball, and on special teams. We did a special teams competition throughout the whole spring, and finished that up today with a couple of different things mixed in and out. We did some fun things with that. Snapping, I think you may have saw one on social media where Mitch Hall snapped it to a receiver one time. We did some fun stuff there, trying to make it fun. But anyway, the competition stuff was really good all spring, in special teams as well. Then it was good to see a lot of young guys make plays throughout spring, and got better from the first practice to the end. That’s what you always want to see when you when you practice in the spring, for sure. Still got a lot of work to do, but the good thing is for us, we still got six weeks in the semester. We’ll continue to learn and grow as a football team. We won’t have a football now, but we’ll still do a lot of things within our team to finish out this semester.
(On if they checked all the boxes on what they wanted to accomplish in the spring)
I think we did check a lot of boxes. I just feel like for us, you’d like to be continue to be out there. Particularly, we had 10 freshmen that showed up in January. You like more time to work with those guys. We saw a lot of promise in some of those guys. Ashton (Gillotte) at the D line positions, you got (Ahmari) Huggins at the wide receiver position. Both of those guys I thought really got improved from from the beginning to the end. There’s several others within that bunch. I think (Michael) Gonzalez up front. he’s gonna play and help us this fall. He’s a guy who’s very savvy, a lot of good ability for being up front, particularly for a guy who just showed up. So he’ll help us there. Again, I think you just like to have a little bit more time with it. As a coach, I don’t know if it’s ever enough. But yeah, we checked a lot of the boxes, and it did as much as we could do throughout the 15 practices.
(On what he learned from guys who switched positions such as Greg DeRosiers and Jack Fagot, as well as the newcomers)
Greg’s one of those guys that, man, from the beginning to the end, I thought he did really, really well. I feel like every practice he had, he had a big run. A run that was over 15 yards. He had much better vision than I anticipated him having from the running back position. He’s up about 205 (pounds) now, so he’s got some good weight and strength on. I think he certainly can help us at running back, there’s no question about it. He can give us some more depth that we need there at that position. Jack moving down, I think will help him also. He’s a very heady player to be able to move down and close to the box now. That’ll certainly help him. He’s still learning the position. He’s still got to get better in some of the things, but I think he’s certainly given us a lot of depth to have at outside linebacker, a position where I think we need depth, having a senior last year that’s not returning. Both of those guys will help us in their new roles as they move forward into the fall.
(On the what he saw out of the running backs group during the spring)
I tell you, (Jalen) Mitchell has really come on as a great leader for us in that room. He’s one of our - he’s on our leadership council, a guy who finished off the season against Wake Forest, that was a big game. He runs hard. He’s not gonna break that 50 yard run for a touchdown, we know that, but he’s gonna keep the chains moving. You need that. He’s a good, hard, tough, physical runner. I thought Hassan (Hall) had a - for where he was at in the fall, we didn’t get a lot of production out of him in the fall, we all know that. He was a new player this spring. He came in with a different attitude, and he’s worked his tail off. Man, we all know he’s very explosive. Hopefully he’s back to that old form that he had our first year we were here, where he had some big plays for us. (Trevion) Cooley is a newcomer, still learning. He missed the first half of spring practice, basically he was just in some individual drills, picked up in the second half. He’s one of those guys that needs 15 more practices just to continue to get reps. I think it’ll be big for him in the next six weeks, and then in summer as we head into fall camp. Those true freshmen, they just get such a great jump, because they can come in here those first six months, and really make mistakes, and continue to learn and grow. Then when you get to the fall in August, they’ve already made all those mistakes, and now hopefully they can come in and really help you. We do have depth there. (Maurice) Burkley has done a great job just being a leader, even though he’s not getting any reps. His rehab’s coming along strong. That was a pretty (bad) injury that keeps you out a long time, so hopefully he’ll be ready to come back this summer, and be ready to go in the August.
(On the what he saw out of the safeties during the spring)
We got to continue to develop there. That’s one of the spots where we’re extremely young. We brought Kendrick Duncan in from Georgia Southern who gives you some experience back there, but other than that, you really don’t have any. (Josh) Minkins played a little bit for us last year, he’s out for the spring. Lovie Jenkins is the other guy that’s played a little bit, but not a ton either. After that, it’s just freshmen, young guys. I thought Ben Perry, I thought probably out of the newcomers did the best job back there at that position. Hopefully he’ll, over the next four or five months, that he’ll continue to grow and develop. He’s got the physical tools, and he’s just got to learn it. Need to get experienced with it. Hopefully he’ll add some more depth to us. And potentially, that could be another position where we look to add another spot as we head this summer into August. Just for the experience factor. So we’ll see. That’s probably the youngest position that we have on our team.
(On if he recruited Shai Werts as a quarterback or receiver when he was at Appalachian State)
As a quarterback. We said if he couldn’t play quarterback, he can play slot, That’s kind of what we did we recruited him.
(On what about Shai Werts makes him think he can make the transition to wide receiver immediately at this level)
He’s played a lot of college football, and you get that experience, the moment’s not too big for you when you step on the field, it doesn’t matter what position it is. I think for him, he’s just kind of learning just the nuances of the position. How to run routes, where to end up. As a quarterback, you get a pretty good feel for where you want your guys to be within those routes. I think that helps you when you start running routes as a receiver. He’s just got to refine route running. Understanding blocking assignments I think is probably the biggest thing for him. As the quarterback, he didn’t have to go out there and block anybody, so that’s a new mentality that you got to get. I think these 15 practices really helped him to learn a lot of those things, and we saw a lot of things that will enable him to help us next fall. Again, he’s still learning, and I’m glad we got four or five more months before we start practicing. But I think he’ll be a guy that gives us depth at the receiver room, and we need it.
(On if there a couple spots that he will look at specifically to add someone before the season starts)
Yeah, I think so. Like I said, safety is a spot because we’re so young there. Potentially nose (tackle). I think nose a spot - we lose (Jared) Goldwire from last year, that was that big body presence in there. We have some guys, we got some young guys ,and some little bit lighter guys we can put in there. But if there’s something out there that we can find that’s a 290, 300, 310-pound nose, to kind of bring some experience in, we’d like to maybe do that. Then we’ll see where we’re at. We’re gonna bring a quarterback in this summer (TJ Lewis) to give us some more depth right there, and then we’ll see what else is out there from that point. But I think those are probably the main needs. You look at safety, nose, quarterback, that we feel like we need to get before we start fall camp. If there’s another great player out there that’s available, then we’ll check it too.
(On if he can gauge that there has some improvement in regards to turnovers)
Oh man, it’s hard to gauge it. Particularly when you’re going against each other. You basically look at a decision making in the throwing game. If you’re throwing interceptions, then alright, if you did throw a pick, was that a decision that you obviously didn’t need to make? If it was, then you’re not doing good if you’re making the wrong decision there. I think we made some strides in that. I thought we took care of the football in terms of fumbles, a lot better just as an overall offense. But then at the same time, we want to create turnovers on the other side. It’s kind of hard to gauge which one’s doing the best with that. I think we got our point across this spring in what we want to emphasize: creating turnovers and taking care of the football. I thought at times, our defense did a much better job with that this spring, of just some of the things they needed to do to get those turnovers. There was a lot of games last year, we were there and didn’t make the plays. This spring, they were able to make some of those plays, and I think that that bodes well from that side of the ball being able to create those turnovers, because it works both ways on both sides of the ball. But it is hard to judge or gauged that when you look at your whole team playing each other.
(On if he can see the confidence and growth of the defense)
At times, not just our defense, but really the whole team. I see growth and leadership throughout the whole team. I think we’re a tighter bunch, I think the chemistry is better as we move forward. I don’t know if that translates into a better season or not, but I think it certainly doesn’t hurt you. I think they’re playing for each other at a higher rate now. The defense, I definitely can. You can hear the communication, it’s much, much better on defense this spring. Every play, the guys are yelling, talking, communicating with each other. That’s what it takes on that side of the ball, particularly. I can see that, but I also feel the sense of chemistry that’s a much tighter, much stronger within the team, That’ll continue to translate this summer, and hopefully that’ll translates into into more victories in the fall.
(On what kind of plan they put together once the recruiting dead period is lifted)
We’ve got that plan formulated for the summer. We’re anticipating June to be open, and we have to be able to host players and families on campus. We’ve hired several people within the recruiting department that will help us with that. For us, it’s going to be like it was a year and a half ago, when we were hosting recruits and families. We’re going to show off, what I believe, is the best staff in the country. That helps sell this program, obviously the facilities and our city and all that. But I think being around our team, our players, if they can be here to to see those things and to see our staff, we’re going to have some official visits in June if it opens up as we’re anticipating. So we’ll host recruits in official capacity, but also, hopefully every day, we have some unofficials here. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with camps this summer, and how that’s going to work. They’re talking about potentially some other things, being able to do some workouts with high school players, because we haven’t been able to see them in a year and a half. We haven’t been able to evaluate them on their campus within their practices. If we’re able to do some of that stuff here, we’ll certainly participate in that. We’re gonna go forward as if it is going to open up in June, and obviously if it’s not, then obviously we’ll cancel that. Hopefully we’re able to move forward with that Right now, we’re doing the same things that we did last spring when we signed this last class. We’re doing a bunch of zoom calls every night, FaceTime calls, getting families on there, players, recruits, and it’s going really well. So we’ll continue the same thing that we did last spring, until it is opened up. We can’t wait to start hosting players’ recruits and families.