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“We have a lot of respect for Pitt. We knew that coming in that this was going to be a really physical football game. That is the way Pitt plays. There was physical play up front on the offensive and defensive lines. We knew that was going to be a battle. They have all five starters back on their offensive line coming back. The defensive line is outstanding for them. Their defense has eight senior starters and a lot of them played against us in 2020. A lot of respect for their team and how they play. The stats are probably not going to be pretty in this game. But there were two stats that I thought we’d have to win and this is what we told our team.
“Number one is turnover margin and we won that and that was obviously the difference in the game. Number two was the explosive plays. We will look at that on film. We had a few explosive plays. I thought that was good and so did they. It was probably a wash there. But we won the turnover margin including the last one we picked up and ran it in to seal the game. It was a total team effort tonight. The coaching staff did a phenomenal job the last two weeks getting ready to play these guys. I thought our kids executed really, really good tonight. Guys stepped up and made plays, guys maybe you haven’t heard of like (Josh) Lifson and the big touchdown catch. He’s a local kid from right here in Louisville to make a play like that, a great catch. Brock Domann had to come in and play when Malik (Cunningham) got dinged up.
“Our teams respect Brock and they feel good when he goes in. He made a huge play on the sideline — an unbelievable catch by T-Huddy (Tyler Hudson). It takes everybody in a game like this. We were down and Trevor Reid didn’t play at all at left tackle and Luke Kandra went out. So we played the five guys that were healthy. Again, we are just out there battling and trying to find plays that are working on offense. It’s hard and it’s really hard against a really good defense like that. That was a big play, throwing back to Malik on the sideline. It was a fun play to watch. We have been working on that all year. We brought it out at the right time in that situation. I am just so proud of our team and the way they battled the last two weeks. The negative is that it is already midnight, and we don’t have time to celebrate. We have to get ready tomorrow for Wake Forest. It is going to be a short night.”
(About Yasir Abdullah’s play)
Satterfield: “Oh man, what a warrior! He doesn’t say anything. He just goes all the time. He just goes hard all the time. He’s a very powerful player. He has had an exceptional year. I know teams that we play have to know where he is at and when they don’t, he is going to make them pay. He is all over the field. He is making an interception 30 yards down the field then he is hitting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands on the sack. We are trying to utilize him in all the different ways and facets that he can with the way he can run. He doesn’t come off the field very often. Just to get some water and go right back out. He is a warrior. I love to be around him. I love the way he competes and fights and compete. I am glad he is on our team.”
(About the pass to Malik Cunningham)
Satterfield: “We were struggling and we were trying to find ways to score points. I felt that on that particular play we needed to go on the left hash. On the first play, we got it on the right hash and we were close to midfield so I think that was a great time to call it. Braden (Smith) hasn’t thrown a pass in a while so we let him throw one. Our guys like plays like that. You don’t call them very often and when you do call them, they usually work. We did run it against Ole Miss in the first game last year and we were very close to going to the house. We haven’t run it since then. Some of those plays, you just pull back off the shelf and we thought it was a good time, particularly against like this. Pitt is a very aggressive team. When you throw a pass out here, they are all running. So you have to take advantage of that. On the touchdown pass to Marshon (Ford), we faked the screen out to the running back. Everybody comes up and Marshon leaks right past them. Good play designs and the guys executed and it worked because of their overaggressiveness. Most of the game, it is just hard to move the ball because of that.
(On the offense struggling to get into rhythm, how much was execution and how much was Pitt dictating things defensively?)
“Probably both. Again, a lot of respect for those guys up front. You can have a guy assigned to block, like No. 8 (Calijan Kancey) and he’s going to get right by you. He’s going to make some plays, so I’ve got to give credit to Pitt and their defense and how they played. Some of it was execution on our part. When we go back and watch the film, we’ll find out, but it’s probably a little bit of both. I knew it was going to be this kind of game. These are going to be ugly stats when you go back and look at them… Again the turnover margin is the best looking stat besides the score.”
(On the pass rushing)
Satterfield: “It was a great effort. We knew we needed to put some pressure on them, because if you just rush four against that offensive line, you’re going to have a hard time getting there. And there were times when we would just rush four and try to play some coverage, you put a lot more pressure on the guys in the secondary. I felt like when we did bring pressure, their quarterback felt like he had to get rid of the football so he would throw it early and he threw it into coverage sometimes when he did that. We didn’t have a ton of sacks, but I felt like the pressure, it bothered him tonight and that’s really what you want. Obviously you want to get some sacks, but if he can throw it a little bit sooner than he needed to and we can get an interception, that’s great. That happened twice and then the last one when we got the fumble. So, the pressure really worked tonight with that. You can’t bring it every time, because they’ll dial in that and they’ll end up scoring. I thought Coach Brown and the defensive staff did a great job of bringing pressure when they needed to and then also playing coverage.”
(With two ACC wins in a row, what kind of momentum does that give you?)
Satterfield: “I think for us, we’re really looking at it one at a time. Tomorrow we’ll come in and we’ll correct this game, but when we get on the practice field, it’s all about a really, really good Wake Forest team. They’ve got a great offense and a great quarterback that can score a lot of points. It’ll be a lot of work that we’re going to have to do starting Sunday with that. We just take it one at a time and hopefully we can stack some of these up.”
(On the defense finding consistency)
Satterfield: “I love it. I absolutely love it. I’m an offensive guy, but I love it when the defense plays like they did tonight. It’s incredible. They did a great job at Virginia getting after the quarterback, sacking the quarterback, creating some turnovers and shutting them out in the last three quarters and then tonight what they were able to do. I thought early in the game, Pitt was able to move the ball and get some yards, but then we got turnovers. The name of the game is to score and so we got them off the field. Hopefully we can continue to get better. Like I mentioned earlier we’ve got a test next week when we play Wake Forest, defensively that will be a big test for us. So we’ll get a good night’s sleep tonight and come in here and start watching some film.”
(About Huggins-Bruce not playing, and about with some possible holding and roughing the passer calls that Satterfield did not agree with.)
Satterfield: “Ahmari was available, we just didn’t play him tonight. I will have to go back and watch some of these calls. I was on them pretty good tonight though. I know it’s a hard job but there were things that went on that got overlooked at times. At the end of the day, the referees have a tough job to do.”
(About the momentum defensively after that Virginia game; What did you learn about this defense tonight, Coach Brown talked about how they can be dominant if they’re consistent)
Satterfield: “I think the best thing we’ve done the last two games is not giving up the explosive plays. It cost us against Boston College and in some of the games we’ve played. If you go back to the Florida State game where it’s the fifty-yard, seventy-yard passes that go to the house. If you get them down, then your defense has a chance to go out and hold them to a field goal which is a win for us. In the last two games, we’ve been able to do that. The guys have been able to get them down. We haven’t given up the big explosive plays and that’s the difference. Our defense has been really good if you think about sacks, tackle for loss, the aggressiveness you were talking about. They’ve been good at that. What’s hindered us defensively is just those big plays. As I mentioned, this next game we’re going up against a big-play offense, so we’ll be tested again. I’m just so proud of these guys tonight and the way they’ve all played. Just an unbelievable effort on the defensive side of the ball.”
(About having the hardest schedule in the ACC the rest of the way. What does a win like this do for the momentum going down the stretch and keeping guys engaged)
Satterfield: “It’s huge. In this business, everybody looks at you like it’s your last game. I mean they always do. What have you done for me lately? That’s the last one. So, we’ll be good tomorrow because we won this one. Then we have to go and get ready to play another one. We’re not looking ahead. We’re not looking behind. We’re staying in the moment. We’re staying focused on what we need to do. We’ll celebrate this one tonight, and then tomorrow get on Wake Forest.”