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Transcript: Scott Satterfield press conference

The mood isn’t exactly bright at U of L for this short week.

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl- Air Force v Louisville Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

You can find the press conference videos for Satterfield, Bryan Brown and Lance Taylor here

(Opening Statement)

“Good afternoon. Just to talk about the game last week (at Syracuse), we’re obviously very disappointed in the way we came out and played. Defensively starting out the game, they had about a six-and-a-half-minute drive on the very first drive. A positive was we held them to a field goal which was good, but then the next two drives defensively resulted in touchdowns.

On that side of the ball, we didn’t tackle well. Obviously, (Sean) Tucker’s a great player, an All-American type running back, and we knew that coming in. (Garrett) Shrader, the quarterback, is obviously a good talented runner as well; I thought he played really well against us and had one of his better games throwing the ball. Negative against him was, again, tackling. Several times we had third and long and we got guys right there, we don’t wrap up and he’s able to get out and get first downs and extend drives, which was disappointing.

Offensively we’re disappointed with the fact that we had some procedure penalties. Obviously, the environment had something to do with that. We knew it was going to be loud, worked on it last week in the indoor, cranked the crowd noise up and the music up loud. Couldn’t hear anything in there either, so we were prepared for it. But obviously, when it’s game time, things are a little bit different. And we’re very disappointed on the goal line, we get down there on the two-yard line and we get a false start. You back up five yards right there. Obviously, it’s hard to score as it is, so you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot with that. Then, in the second half, it’s still a relatively close game, two possessions there, but we just never did move the ball. We came out and had the ball about nine minutes in the third quarter and just couldn’t get in the endzone.

Again, didn’t play well. Give credit to Syracuse, they came out and played really well, and we did not match that intensity. We got to do better. This week, we’re playing at Central Florida in another environment that will be challenging, when you think about all the things they got going on down there at the Bounce House. They had a big win last week against South Carolina State, put up some great numbers, offensively and defensively. They’ve got a new quarterback who transferred in from Ole Miss (John Rhys Plumlee), a better runner than Shrader from Syracuse. He’s faster. I think there was a couple games when he was at Ole Miss, against LSU, he maybe rushed for about 250 yards, or right around there, 230. So he is very, very fast. They have some great speed on that side of the ball at Central Florida, thinking about receivers, #4 (Ryan O’Keefe), can go but they have others too. Their big back, #0 (Johnny Richardson), who’s a bruiser. They go fast, have a fast tempo. Coach (Gus) Malzahn does a really good job with that.

They’re coming off a big bowl win last year against Florida (in the Gasparilla Bowl), then obviously the first one at home (vs. South Carolina State). They’ll be a well-rested team, they played last Thursday night and then rested their starters in the second half when you go back and watch the film. So it’ll be a big challenge for us this week, obviously to get ready. We have to have a great week. It’s a lot more mental this week coming off a short week, having to get on a plane on Thursday. So we practiced Sunday, we practiced yesterday, and today, so there won’t be a day off in between. You got to practice every single day to get ready, which is just a little bit different when you think about a six-day turnaround. With that, I’ll just open up questions.”

(Given that the emphasis coming off of last season was being more physical, more aggressive, and a better tackling team, why do you think it was, that even with it being the bulk of the defensive emphasis, that you guys tackled so poorly against Syracuse?)

“Well, they had a little something to do with it. (Sean) Tucker’s a really good back, runs low to the ground. Didn’t wrap up there a couple of times. They did a good job on a couple of their plays where they moved him out. And now there’s one guy, one guy misses and you don’t have the rest of the team to rally. And we missed on the screen play, it was about a 54-yard play for a touchdown. The other thing that really hurt us was the scrambling of the quarterback, where we had him in the backfield several times. He’s a big kid, but we just didn’t wrap up, so we’ve got to do a better job of wrapping up.”

(How did the team approach practice coming back from Syracuse?)

“On Sunday, everybody was obviously very disappointed and hurt. Yesterday (Monday), we came back and had a very good practice yesterday, a lot more upbeat, a lot more energy. They lifted weights yesterday as well and then went out there on the practice field and had a really good practice. It was focus, intense, and they got after it, which is what you want to see. You can’t be down in the dumps, knowing that we didn’t play well, because we know what will happen if you’re like that all week long. You go down there with no excitement, no juice, no energy, you’re going to get beat bad. So, you have to have that juice, have that energy, you have to bring it all week and I think our guys yesterday did that. They’re excited to get on the practice field and try to get better.”

(Given that it is a mental week, how do you meet the physical challenge of (Isaiah) Bowser when you can’t really physically practice?)

“Well, I think you got to get your mind made up that it’s going to be that way, that you’re going to be having to tackle a big back right there that’s running hard every time he runs. He’s a very hard runner, and you got to have your mind made up before you even get on the plane to go. We got to play physical, and we got to come bring it. We got to bring energy and physicality every single play. And I think that’s got to be the case because you obviously can’t strap pads on and go tackle this week. I mean, you just can’t. You want to be fresh, but you have to have your mind made up that it’s going to be a physical football game, and you have to bring it every single play.”

(You mentioned the players being disappointed afterwards. Are you seeing any signs of leadership with older guys saying that what happened wasn’t acceptable?)

“Yeah, absolutely. We had that on Sunday when we got back here where the guys got together. I think it happened offensively and defensively. What ends up happening too is everybody wants to figure out why. What happened? How can we get better with it? Coaches are doing that obviously, but when the players do it, it’s a lot better when it’s coming from them. But again, I think the guys bounced back really well. They’re disappointed and they realize, hey, what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to practice better, we’ve got to get a better plan in, and we’ve got to go execute that plan. And I think a lot of it’s just mental, getting your mind made up to go do that and anything they can do to make themselves better. Again, there were some good bright spots out there, we’ve got to dwell on those, and we’ve got to continue to get better.

But we’ve got to go out there and make plays. We’ve got to tackle better. Offensively, we’ve got to get in the endzone. And if you do those things, you’re obviously going to give yourself a better chance to win.”

(Some of the issues that were on display against Syracuse seemed to be issues that you guys had last year. Were you surprised by that at all with some of the changes you’ve made on staff? And I guess, does that make you reevaluate any approach or anything at all?)

“Yeah, I was a bit surprised we didn’t tackle better. I thought we would have tackled better against these guys (Syracuse). Again, there were times we had them in the backfield, there was one time on the goal line, probably would’ve tackled them on about the minus two. He gets out of it, and he scrambles for about 12 and gets the first down on their sideline to keep their drive alive. We’ve got two guys right there, I mean, good players. Monty (Montgomery), YaYa (Diaby), they’re right there. I was just disappointed that we didn’t make those plays, and those guys are capable of making those plays. They’ve made them in the past and to come up short and not be able to get them down. And again, we’re playing a guy that’s faster (Plumlee) this week. This is maybe the fastest quarterback we’ve ever played against; he can fly. And he runs like a skill wide receiver that’s playing quarterback. So, we’ve got to be able to fit right and be where we’re supposed to be. And you better wrap up. You can’t come in and shoulder hit, you have to wrap up, if you’re going to bring these guys down.

(Looking at the passing game against Syracuse, it seems that Malik Cunningham didn’t seem all that comfortable as a passer sitting in the pocket, kind of keyed on (Tyler) Hudson a little too much. Was it something maybe Syracuse was doing defensively? Or was it a confidence issue coming in? Why do you think he struggled as much as he did?)

“If you look at his completion percentage, it was pretty good and it was pretty high. They made a great play on the deep ball we had to (Dee) Wiggins, which was open right there. The ball probably drifted a little bit too far to the right. The backside corner actually is the one that came to make the interception; it was a heck of an interception by #8 (Garrett Williams). I thought (Williams) played an outstanding game, he had a pick and made nine tackles. He’s a great player and that was a great play. To me, that was a play that the defense made. And then later on in the game, I thought Malik was forcing it when he threw the last pick that was third and long, he just forced the ball down the field. You can’t do that, just take what they give you. His decision making in the run game could have been better too. Overall, we got to do a better job as coaches. It’s not Malik’s fault, it’s the coaches. We got to do a better job of getting the players in positions to make plays, so that he can get them the ball to make plays. When we targeted (Tyler Hudson), he did a pretty good job with it. He got some first downs and got some pretty good yards. But we do have to distribute the ball. We got to get the other guys involved, get (Marshon) Ford more involved. When (Ahmari) Huggins-Bruce had the two catches, he was pretty explosive. I think getting those other guys involved will obviously help.

(What are you seeing from UCF’s defense and what are some areas or matchups that you really want to key in on?)

“I think their defense is built on speed. They can run and a lot of the guys that played last year are back, especially in the secondary. They’re not scared to go man to man. They’ll come up in your face and play man to man defense on you. They get after it up front. And then they have a really good middle linebacker, #11 (Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste), that makes a lot of good plays. They have an experienced defense that is built on speed. The other thing is that we have to be able to win in space. When you think about these one-on-one matchups, you have to get opportunities, you have to be able to win those one-on-ones. We have to be good up front, we have to be able to block the guys up front and create holes when we do run the football. I thought last year against these guys, we were able to do a little bit of both - run and pass. We have to be able to do that. We have to be able to sustain drives and stay on the field, so third downs are going to be important this week for two reasons: to keep our drives going so we can get touchdowns but also to keep their offense off the field. They have an explosive offense and we want to try to limit their possessions because obviously when they have the ball, they’re dangerous.”

(Gus Malzahn talked yesterday about how you guys were able to slow them down last year and also how difficult the game was. What can you do to slow them down (UCF) and do you expect it to be the same physicality?)

“It’s very challenging to slow them down. He goes fast, he’s got the up-tempo offense. You’re having to defend all 11 when you have a quarterback like they have in John Rhys Plumlee, who can actually run and throw it. Last week he threw for over 300 yards. So, you not only have to defend the wideouts who can really run and the running back, but the quarterback too. We have to do a great job of tackling in space because what they’re going to try to do is spread you out, create that one-on-one matchup somewhere, and then they got athletes that can run. So we got to do a great job of tackling in space, with your one-on-one tackles, and we also need to try to keep them behind the sticks. I think that’ll be critical. As long as they’re staying on the sticks, they will be hard to defend. And it was, last year was a very physical game, I think they came out of that game and had several injured players after that, five injured players out of that game. We have to play physical in this game, we have to, on both sides of the ball. Every chance we get, we have to be physical because obviously, they’re a speed team. They can run all over the place and so, we have to be able to use the physicality to try to equalize that.”

(What was your thought on the energy level of the team (at Syracuse?)

“We got to match more energy. I thought they came out with a lot of energy, Syracuse did. That crowd was electric in there, it was loud and electric. And they got some good things going too for them, and so it just made that a little bit more. I think for us, we got to have some good stuff happen to us early in this game (at UCF), to try and keep their crowd out of it, because we know it’ll be loud there. But I do know, we have to match the intensity and the energy and the physicality of the football game. You just can’t show up and go out there and think you’re going to go play well in a football game in this day and age. Anybody will beat you. You got to bring that intensity that matches whoever you’re playing, but bring it every single time. I was disappointed in that last week. We got to have that every time we’re on the field, so hopefully we learned that last week and we’ll bring it this week.”