LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – With the University of Louisville football team, new coach Scott Satterfield and his staff are on Step No. 1 of roughly 500. There’s a long way to go. There’s no way the team’s annual spring scrimmage on Thursday night was going to change that.
Satterfield could’ve waited a little longer to have spring practice, but he wanted to jump straight into the workouts with a group of players eager to erase the memory of last season.
First impression? Defensive coordinator Bryan Brown and his staff might’ve been the most active unit on the field. They were chest-bumping, high fiving, yelling and screaming, covering ground to correct mistakes and praise victories. And they got some good results. Russ Yeast and C.J. Avery had top-notch interceptions. The offense struggled to find the end zone until Red Zone situations at the end of the 100-play scrimmage.
No stats were kept, but it’s possible Louisville played more defense Thursday night than they did the entire final month of the 2018 season.
Not that it’s safe to read into anything from this session. Spring practice, for Satterfield, was a fact-finding mission. And the spring game was no different.
“We’re still evaluating, still looking at what the guys are doing on offense and defense, at every position,” Satterfield said. “All the positions are up for grabs and all the guys are competing and that’s what we want. This is a lot of great film to coach off of. There’s some things we did tonight that obviously you wouldn’t do in a game, but we’re just trying to look for certain things in guys in certain scenarios, and then we’ll coach through that. But overall, I’m just pleased with how the spring went. . . . We’ve got a lot of teaching to do. The great thing is that these guys’ attitude has been awesome.”
Spring always presents a challenge. You think the defense played well – then wonder if it isn’t because the offense is subpar. Or vice versa.
In this case, Satterfield is more interested in effort and ability. Everything is charted. Everything is on video. Players will get a couple of weeks off, and when they get back they’ll return to a critique of all their spring performance, with video broken down.
“We’re very basic right now, with what we’re doing (on offense),” Satterfield said. “Really just the meat and potatoes of the offense is in, with what we’re doing. There are so many things other than what we were doing tonight that we’ll show, obviously.”
Generally speaking, Satterfield was pleased with the progress at the tight end position, which was in bad shape when he arrived. Between shifting some bodies around and recruiting some new additions, he’s breathing a bit easier after spring practice.
“One of the more surprising things in a pleasant way is the tight end position,” Satterfield said. “I thought they made as much improvement as any position from the first day to the end. We ask those guys to do a lot of things . . . and that group will continue to grow and get better. I think we have 3-4 guys we can live with at that position.”
Satterfield is looking for consistency at quarterback. He needs to see his running backs healthy in the fall. He needs bodies up front. There’s no depth chart, because there’s no decision.
He does like the variety he has at the offensive skill spots. Speaking of quarterback, he said, “You have some different variations. Malik (Cunningham) obviously can make plays with his legs. Puma stands tall in the pocket, but he also showed some legs tonight too. . . . I think Evan Conley gives you a little bit of both. He can run but he threw a rope on a touchdown pass, that was nice. . . . The biggest thing for me is decision-making, and taking care of the football.”
Though Sean Moth called the game via public address system and the video boards were on, this was more working practice than slick production.
And for Louisville, for now, it needed to be.
Next on the agenda is getting a few players healthy, and getting them into the weight room.
“I think we have 3-4 guys that will have to have minor surgeries, but won’t be out long,” Satterfield said. “But the big thing is getting their bodies built up so they can train. We have to get stronger. . . . Fortunately, I think we’re pretty healthy, even with doing a lot of tackling this spring, which we had to do.”
As for Satterfield, he has a house in Louisville, but it won’t be home until his family moves in. He’ll head to North Carolina to pack some things, and begin the process of moving his wife and kids to Louisville.
“We’ll try to get the kids here and get a little bit of normalcy, get them in school, and get a little bit of a routine going,” he said. “I love being here. I love coaching ball. But to have the family here, to have somebody here, so when you go to the restaurant you’re going with somebody beside yourself, that’s going to be neat to get them back up here in the next couple of weeks.”
Like everything else in Satterfield’s whirlwind time in Louisville so far, it’s a start.
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