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Transcript: Scott Satterfield previews Clemson

Louisville v Boston College Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

Video available here

Opening Statement

“Good afternoon. Just first of all, going back to our game on Saturday. We knew it was going to be a four quarter battle with James Madison. I have a lot of respect for them. They’re coached well, the kids play hard, and it was. We took it to the second half. We started dominating the game the second half and I thought the trenches really worked hard and showed up. I went back and watched it. Offense had some big plays with T Huddy (Tyler Hudson). It was one of his better games, particularly his run after the catch, I thought he did an outstanding job with that. Tiyon (Evans) with the nice big play and over 100 yards. And (Jawhar) Jordan, as well, with over 100 yards. It was really good stuff from those guys. And then defensively, we shut them down in the second half. We did a great job. We’ve been doing that it seems like the second half the last four games which has been huge defensively.

Going into this week, you’ve got Clemson, who are one of the top teams in the country year in and year out. Coach Swinney has done an unbelievable job down there at Clemson. It seems like they just continue to reload. They’re coming off a tough loss last week against Notre Dame. Notre Dame played a great game, if you go back and watch it. Notre Dame is the same team that lost to Marshall and Stanford at home and then played outstanding against Clemson. Really looking at the game, they won it in the trenches as well with their offensive and defensive line. Very impressed with what Notre Dame was able to do. You look at that came, and you can go look at what the trend has been which is turnovers in big plays. They give up a blocked punt for a touchdown in the first quarter and other than that, it’s just a battle the whole first half essentially. And then a pick six that goes 95 yards back the other way and an interception that gets to about the 12 yard line. That’s the difference in the game really. It got out of hand from that point. You can’t turn the ball over in this day and age of football. You have to expect to go out there and play well, I don’t care who you are playing against. That will be a huge thing. We know we’re going to hostile environment this week down at Clemson. That’s one of the better home field advantages and venues to play. It’s going to be loud, crazy, all of those things. They have a 38 game home winning streak, we know that. It’s obviously a tough place to go play and try to get a win. So we’ll have to prepare for that, particularly on offense. We’ve got to be ready for that.

You look at their team. Defensively, they’re still outstanding on the strength of their team up front on defensive line, two deep. They’re all really good players, high draft pick players. Their linebackers, #22 (Trenton Simpson) is an outstanding player. Last year, he was playing on the outside, this year he’s moved on the inside. He can really run, he’s strong. And then they have two linebackers who are sophomores. Younger kids that are really good as well. They can play. Offensively, people have been talking about their offense. I still think they have a lot of weapons. (Will) Shipley is an outstanding player, he’s got tremendous speed. He’s their return guy, he can catch the ball in the backfield, they can do everything with him. I think their offensive line is playing better this year compared to last year when you’re looking at their team. Receiver wise, it’s a little bit different with their makeup and what they’ve had. Their go-to guy is a freshman, #0 (Antonio Williams) is an outstanding player. We can talk about their quarterbacks, both of those guys that have played are very, very capable. DJ (Uiagalelei) has one of the strongest arms in the country. I think he has had a really good year compared to last year. He bounced back this year, I know people want to talk bad about him. He can run, he can throw, he can do it all. He’s a really, really talented player. I think people love to talk about it and try to create some kind of controversy when it comes to that, but he’s an outstanding player.

We have our work cut out for us going against this team. We know we’re going to have to play a great game. We’ve got to win the turnover margin; we’ve got to win the big play side of the ball on both side of the ball. We should be ready to go. We came out of the game pretty healthy. Malik (Cunningham) did ding his hand, his non-throwing hand, but he’s fine. He’s going to be practicing this week, he’ll be out there today. Luke Kandra should be back to practicing this week. He’s an offensive lineman, one that we’ve missed the last two weeks. He’ll still be a day-to-day, but he will be out there practicing this week, which is a great sign to be able to get him back out. I think he’s been playing at a high level. Other than that, everyone else is ready to go. So, we’re excited about it.”

(How much is the team’s psyche different than a month ago, and do you worry about if somewhere along the way, whoever it is, say it’s Clemson, Kentucky, it changes their psyche?)

“We’re certainly playing with a lot more confidence as a football team overall compared to a month ago. I think once you get after the first part of the season, you kind of get a good identity of your team. You kind of know where your strengths and weaknesses are after the first four or five games. We were inconsistent early on playing, and I think over the last four games, we’ve really found some consistency. That’s been the biggest key, and when you do that, then you get confidence. It certainly still hadn’t been easy, we’re still battling every game. We’re still going out there and it’s taking four quarters, it’s taken a lot of time to continue to stick with it. Our guys have been able to do that, and we do, we have a lot of confidence. We’re going to play a really good team right here in a hostile environment and all that, but we got to do what we’ve been doing the last four games and not worry about who we’re playing and try to elevate our game a little bit more and just continue to get better.”

(What does it do for a team when you have guys like Josh Lifson scoring touchdowns? You can see how everybody comes off the bench to congratulate him.)

“A lot of these guys that are making plays don’t get the limelight, you don’t really hear about them too often, but they’re just paddling behind the scenes. They’re proud to be a part of this team, they’re glue guys. I love having glue guys on teams that kind of keep everything tight. I just think it makes your team better. You’re going to have your star players, you’re going to have your guys in kind of the limelight, but the other guys are really what holds the team together. So to be able for them to get some spotlight and to make big time plays certainly in key situations, it’s awesome. They’ll remember it for the rest of their life. They have so much respect for their teammates, and I think that just increases the morale of the football team, and it makes the younger guys know, if I continue to work hard, that could be me one day. We love rewarding those guys in that regard.”

(If you happen to win, what do you see is the potential impact or implications for your program?)

“Huge, obviously. To beat a team so recognizable like Clemson, that’s won national championships, that has won 38 straight at home, certainly the future of your program looks really good. It impacts recruits and impacts the future that way, which is huge obviously. It also just proves that we’re headed in the right direction. Just to know that hey, we’re not there yet, but we want to continue to get better and better as a football team. This would be another step in the right direction.”

(Coaches tend to remember losses more than wins, is that loss last year against Clemson one that you tend to remember?)

“Yeah, down inside the five in four plays that score, yeah it sticks with us big time. It’s one of those games that you certainly had an opportunity to go in and get in there. I mean, if we scored, they still had some time, but who knows what would have happened. Offensively, it just really haunts you not being able to score right there. So, there are certain games that stand out more than others. That’s certainly one that stands out and probably will, for a long time. Hopefully, we get that bad taste out of our mouths.”

(Coming so close last year, do you think that gives a little boost of confidence that you can play with this team?)

“Yeah, I think so, it’s one thing that came away from that. They’re obviously a top team last year as well. To be able to go toe-to-toe and hang in there and to play and to have a chance at the very end. I thought our guys fought great in that game. We just got to hopefully build off that. I think it’s a great opportunity, it’s another chance to go play with one of the top teams in the country. It’s another ranked team and we’ve played a bunch of those this year. I really believe our guys will be unfazed by all of that and just go out there and play their game, go out there and continue to do what they’ve been doing the last four games to have success that we’ve been able to have.”

(Scott, you guys have looked like a different team in the second half of the last four games. What can you pinpoint to that?)

“You know, just continuing to work. I think there’s certainly a few things that we’ve done to try to isolate and put out receivers in position to be able to make plays in the passing game and be very intentional and specific about what we’re trying to run offensively. Defensively, we’ve made a couple changes there. MJ Griffin at safety, he’s been in there the last four weeks. Tre Clark on the inside, moving some guys around in the secondary. I think all those things combined with the fact that we continue to work and continue to do the things we’ve been doing. We’ve not been giving up the bigger plays on defense, that’s been huge. I think all those things combined has given us a chance, and then in the second half of these games is when our guys are really shining. The second half of all four of these games when the games can go either way, our guys have just stuck to it, stayed in there, and finished it out. We’ve talked about it all offseason, we had to finish and we knew that. Last year four games came right down to the end and we didn’t finish those. Our guys have finally learned how to finish some of these games and that’s been nice to see.”

(We’ve talked a lot about Tiyon Evans all year and you mentioned that he’s finally getting totally healthy. I think one of the analytics shows had him as one of the fastest guys of the week, as far as miles per hour. Is that the real Tiyon when we see the breakaway speed like that?)

“Yeah, and I still don’t think he is 100% healthy. I think he’s getting better each and every week. He’s better this week than he was last, and so on so forth. So, hopefully we’ll continue to see him elevate his game. He’s got the juice in the legs when he gets to the second level, he can take it the distance. But also, the power in the box, we saw that last week as well. He’s breaking tackles, he’s spinning, he’s getting up there and getting extra yards. He’s becoming the back that we thought he could be over the last two weeks. For him, he’s going back home to South Carolina, so it’ll be big for him this week to be able to go back home and play Clemson. I know he will be excited and hopefully will continue to progress like he has the last two weeks.”

(Has getting the ball out on time in the passing game become an emphasis rather than searching for bigger chunk plays?)

“Yeah, it is. It’s more of an emphasis for us to be able to get the ball out. We don’t want the negative plays. The negative plays are what kill you and knock you off the sticks. We’ve done a much better job the last couple weeks of staying on the sticks; you can go back to the Virginia game where we just kind of stayed on it. It’s probably more beneficial for us to get rid of the football underneath and maybe try to run and get the first down, as opposed to trying to knock it off the top all the time. We’ve kind of adjusted that throughout this season with our guys, and it’s obviously paid off for us. We need to get better at that too. We need to keep working on that and get better.”

(What do you remember and expect from the atmosphere at Clemson?)

“It’s loud, it’s packed, and there’s not going to be an empty seat in that place. You’re going to be on the hill. They turned the speakers up wide open. They also scream loud, so yeah, it’s a hostile environment for sure and then they have a lot of talented players on the field, they are used to winning. All those things combined are the reason they’ve won 38 in a row there. Certainly it is a home-field advantage for them. But we have been in Syracuse, Central Florida, we’ve been in some hostile environments this year. Hopefully, we’ve learned from that because you just have to concentrate. That’s the bottom, you have to concentrate on what you have to do between the lines, and on that field and tune out all that stuff that’s outside of that. At this point of the season, hopefully, we’re fully aware of that.”

(You never want self-inflected false starts, things of that nature, how important is that especially this week with a crowd like that?)

“Extremely important and I wish we could play all of the games here, it’d be a lot better. I like these last three, we’ve been able to play right out here in Cardinal stadium. So yeah, I mean, that’s a huge part, a big emphasis this week is not having self-inflicted penalties, we don’t want those. It’s one thing to say it and not want it but then you have to go out there and play. When you have some 6 foot 5, 300-pound guy sitting right in front of you trying to take your head off and we have to concentrate on the snap. All those factors, they factor in so you know, we’ll work on it, and hopefully, we’ll go out there and we’ll be poised. You have to have poise when you’re playing games like this.”