Q. New system, new coach. What is the learning curve like for you guys?
SETH DAWKINS: I feel like the learning curve has been — it hasn’t been as difficult as you may think. Coming from a complex system with Petrino’s offense in the past to a less complex offense with Coach Satterfield. It’s been really easy for the offense. I think the defense has played very well in the spring. I’m guessing they have been in their playbooks, got the system down as well.
But the system, it’s got easier, definitely. Like I said, Coach P, he’s been in — he was in the NFL for a minute. His playbook was definitely more complex than you would expect. But, yeah, the playbook isn’t that bad.
Q. What can you say about Jawon Pass and Malik Cunningham, still fighting for the job. What are your takeaways as a receiver?
SETH DAWKINS: I love both of them. They’re competing very hard. This summer we’ve been throwing a few times a week. The spring was very competitive. I think Puma nudged him out in the spring just a little bit. But they’ve both getting after it, man.
Malik Cunningham and Puma, they’re real competitors. They love each other so much. If one of them having a bad day, the other one is going to lift the other one up, vice versa.
They love each other. Competition only makes you better. They’re not shying away from it. They love it. We love it, too. Just excited to get started August 4th and see who eventually wins the battle.
Q. Obviously you don’t know who is going to throw the ball. On the wide receivers, you have a lot of guys back. What has the off-season been like for that group, one of the deepest positions on the team?
SETH DAWKINS: We’re definitely one of the most experienced position groups on the field. We have a lot of seniors in the room. Helps just helping the younger guys, the quarterback situation, because we’re all experienced.
It’s definitely been going smooth, just the transition, just because we’re older and understand everything more from going from coach to coach. It’s been a smooth transition so far, especially in the receiver room.
Q. Before either of the talented quarterbacks can throw you the ball, you have to protect him. Last year you were last in the league in sacks. What is it going to take to protect the quarterback this year, can you do anything with shorter passes before they get hit?
SETH DAWKINS: Yeah, I feel like our offensive line has definitely improved in the spring. We brought in Coach Ledford from North Carolina State. He did a great job at North Carolina State. They’ve had one of the best offensive lines in the ACC for a long time.
Our offensive line, they’ve got more confident, more stronger in the weight room. Definitely they’ve been working on a lot of drills. Whenever the skill players do drills, the offensive line do the same drills as the skill players. That goes along with it being mobile.
I feel like they’ve definitely improved since last year.
Q. What do you like about your game?
SETH DAWKINS: I’m sorry?
Q. What do you like about your game, the way you play, your style?
SETH DAWKINS: Just the competitive nature that I have just naturally. I’m very competitive. I’m willing to do whatever for my team. I think you can see that on the field. In the locker room, everybody knows that I’m a team player. I’ll do whatever, whether it’s special teams or catch a slant and get busted, go deep. I do whatever to win.
Q. How much different is this team going to look offensively than it did last year, and in what ways?
SETH DAWKINS: Last year it was definitely more pass-based. I’m not saying we’re a run-heavy team this year. Coach Petrino, in our offense last year, we were more of, like I said, a passing offense. This year we’re hoping that the run game we will bring to the table opens up the pass more.
We definitely run the ball more, we send guys in motion to check coverage. We send a lot of guys in motion before plays, check everybody out.
I feel like we’re not more so of a run-base. I feel maybe 60-40 run, but it will change game by game, of course.
Q. What can you say about Coach Satterfield coming onto this team, on and off the field? How has he worked to kind of establish what he’s expecting from you guys?
SETH DAWKINS: We respect Coach Satterfield so much, man. He’s very family oriented, man. He’s a great person. We feel lining we can trust him. They put their expectations out there the first day. They go by the quote winners winner. We’re here to win, man.
Like I said, we’re just following him. He’s known for winning. We’re trusting the process. Whatever it takes to win, we’re willing to do as a team.
Q. You described your play. Describe the teammate in Dorian.
SETH DAWKINS: Dorian, man, he’s a competitor. He’s very tough, willing to stick his head in anything. He’s been the leader of the defense since he was a freshman. The past two years, this has been his defense. I know that he’s ready to step it up and take his game to the next level.
He’s been preparing for it. He really stepped into his role this off-season as more of a vocal leader. He’s been more so of watch-what-I-do type of player. Now it’s listen to what I say type of player. He’s being more vocal, more confident. I notice that on the offensive side of the ball, too. He brings a lot to the table for us.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
We’ll bring up Dorian Etheridge and see if he has nice things to say about you.
Do you agree with what Seth just said about you?
DORIAN ETHERIDGE: Oh, yeah, definitely. I made it a priority to become more of a vocal leader this year.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. What would you say is the view of the defense this year? What changes have you made to make you better?
DORIAN ETHERIDGE: Yeah, we’re definitely going to be attacking a lot more, like keeping the offense on their toes. A lot of blitzes coming from, like, different directions, disguising things.
Q. Every program when you get a new coach, there is that buy-in moment. For you guys on the defensive side of the ball, when was that for you and maybe some of your teammates?
DORIAN ETHERIDGE: It was definitely during spring ball. When things started getting tougher, we had to make the decision we are either going to get better or worse. Towards the end of spring ball, we all kind of came together, said, This is going to be it, we have to, like, run with it.
Q. Obviously you, also C.J. Avery, are the leaders in the linebackers corporation, do you take more responsibility this year in preparing the guys to make a bounce-back from when you did last year?
DORIAN ETHERIDGE: Definitely. We have our younger group. We had a real experienced group last year. A lot of the guys that came back from last year. We’ve had time to bond over, like, a year last year.
I mean, those guys definitely looked for guidance in guys like me and C.J. We feel like it’s our job to provide that.
Q. Having to have leadership changes, defensive coordinator, what can you say your takeaways have been from navigating through that? They talk about the NFL being a business. In college football, you’ve seen the business side of things.
DORIAN ETHERIDGE: Yeah, this has been my third defensive coordinator in three years. I had committed to a different defensive coordinator when I was in high school. I mean, that’s a total of four. This is one of those things where it helped me. It hinders the defense as far as the process of all of us growing as a unit, but it definitely helped us seeing different coaching styles.
Q. When you first met Coach Satterfield, what was the first thing that jumped out at you about his characteristics, how he coaches the team?
DORIAN ETHERIDGE: When I first met him, he’s real laid back, laid-back guy. I didn’t know how I really felt about that. Every coach I’ve ever had has been an up-in-your-face type of guy. He’s laid back until you, like, start messing up, then definitely he’ll gladly intervene (smiling).
Q. Historically U of L has gotten after the passer. Looking at the stats, you were actually last in sacks last year. That’s not like Louisville football. Is it more than just schemes? Does it take more effort maybe?
DORIAN ETHERIDGE: Oh, yeah, definitely. Getting to the quarterback is probably 90% effort, honestly. It’s one of those things where if everybody stays healthy, our best pass-rusher last year had got injured the first game of the season, then I ended up going down the second game of the season. It was one of those things where a lot of things were going wrong.
We definitely have the athletes to get back there.
THE MODERATOR: Dorian, thank you.
We’ll bring head coach up. Questions, please.
Q. When you were an outstanding quarterback at Orange High in Hillsboro, North Carolina, did you ever envision yourself being an ACC coach? Now that you’re here, why do you believe you’ll succeed?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: Back then probably not. I was just trying to be a good quarterback for Orange High School at that point. Just scrap my way around.
It’s a dream come true to be here, it really is. Having grown up right there in Durham, then going to Orange, right here in ACC country, with Carolina, Duke, State, Wake, all these teams… It’s just a dream come true.
Very humbled and honored to be the head coach here.
I think once I got into coaching, I think you always have visions of being at a place with the highest level where you have an opportunity to compete for national championships. I think that certainly was a goal of mine.
But I’ve always been in a thing where wherever I’m at I want to do the best job I can do. My first job at App State was coaching wide receivers, wanted to do the best job I could do back in ’98. Running backs, quarterbacks, calling plays. Then being the head coach at App State the last six years, a tremendous honor, too.
We’ll have success at Louisville. It’s a great town, a great place. A lot of great people. We will have a lot of success here at Louisville.
Q. What can you say your first impressions were of walking in to the University of Louisville, the returning players, how they accepted you and your first impressions overall?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: Yeah, I think the first impression was that when I first saw these guys, they were obviously very hungry. Had a bad taste in their mouth of what happened last year. They want to be good. So they were very welcoming for myself and our staff to coming in. They were like, Coach, we’re ready to work. What do we need to do?
Our first thing we did, put our arm around them, loving them a little bit, Here is the plan, here is what we have to do.
We have a great core of leaders on our team, great guys that want to be good. They’ve worked extremely hard this off-season. I’m excited about getting them on the field and let’s see what we can do.
Q. When you were at Appalachian, you had the experience of shepherding a program from FCS to FBS. You took the team to bowl games as an FBS team in three consecutive years. I don’t think that’s been done before. What are some of the experiences you went through that you can draw on now? You’d have to call this a rebuilding situation a little.
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: It’s very similar, I think. When I took over at App, we were going from the Southern Conference to the Sunbelt Conference, which is a step up. There’s a lot of things we had to do. We went from 63 scholarships to 85 scholarships. You had to build that team out to be competitive.
We’re kind of doing that here. The fact that Louisville has already been in the ACC for five years, had some really good success there, with Lamar Jackson, Teddy Bridgewater, has had some great players. It’s a town that is yearning I think to put a great product on the field.
I’m going to draw from that experience that I had at App of how we want to build our team out as we move forward. It takes a little bit of time. Obviously people throw the world “culture” around a lot. We’re changing the way we do things, which is culture. But you have to be consistent on a daily basis. I think that’s what we’re trying to be.
Our strength staff is around these guys all the time. They’re very consistent in their approach of how we do things. It’s the same way with the coaching staff. I think the way we’ll end up doing it is through our players, though. They got to take ownership of the team. They got to be prideful about what they put on the field. When you turn the film on, what are you going to see right there? How hard are you playing? Are you doing it the right way?
Those are the things we’re working on, that we’re doing now. That’s how we’ll have success. People talk about, How are you going to measure success next fall? It’s not in terms of wins and loss es for me, it’s in terms of attitude and effort on a daily basis. That’s going to be how we determine success.
If you’re doing that, we’re doing those kind of things, we will end up winning games, we will end up having a very successful program. But it starts on a daily basis of how you carry yourself, what kind of attitude and effort do you have.
Q. North Carolina’s population continues to grow, the talent base with it. You’re at Louisville. How much did it help you in the past and how much will you be back in the future?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: In recruiting?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: We’ll be back down in the Carolinas. For sure we have strong ties in Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama. We’ll be in the Southeast. A lot of good players down here. Also a lot of good ACC schools down here, too. Can you pull some of those guys away?
What we’re selling as our staff, being around our people, our players, a great city, so there’s a lot of great things about it. That’s kind of what we’re leaning on.
You want to get the right ones, you want to get the right fit, that’s going to fit our culture, our profile of what we’re looking for.
We have too many ties here not to come down. Too many ties with the high school coaches in the area, down here in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. We’re going to continue to utilize that. Meanwhile we’re going to tap into Louisville and Kentucky, start there first. Obviously go where we know people and know coaches.
Q. So far from what you have seen from your guys, who on the offensive side and defensive side has risen at leaders?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: These two players here are really good leaders, good representation of our team. That’s why they’re here. There’s been several. There’s been a bunch, quite frankly, that have really stepped up and led.
Caban is as a defensive end for us as our team, doesn’t say a whole lot, but when he talks, the guys listen. There’s a lot. Puma and Malik at quarterback, they’ve really done a good job coming to work every single day.
Haycraft as an offensive lineman, brings his lunch pail every single day. There’s been several guys that have done that. The more obviously the merrier. We can get everybody coming to work every single day…
I think throughout that’s summer, that’s happened. You can say the transformation of these guys, they’re coming every day ready to work. That’s what it takes in order to be successful.
The more guys, I mean, the better we’ll be. I think as we head into fall, into August camp, I think we’ve got most of our team that have bought in and doing everything that we’re asking them to do.
Q. How does your quarterback Pass fit your system?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: Talking about the Puma Pass? How does he fit?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: Well, I’ve been calling plays since 2003. I’ve had a bunch of different kind of quarterbacks throughout that time. Puma is 6’4″, 238, a great size. He can run. I think he ran a 4.75 this spring. At that size, that’s moving.
He fits in that realm where he can run the ball. We’re going to run some option, some zone read type of stuff. He can stand tall in the pocket, make those throws.
I think it’s going to come down to decision-making. I think that’s ultimately in our offense, the quarterback has to be a great decision-maker in the run game and in the passing game because there’s so many things we’re asking him to read.
Whether that’s Puma, whether it’s Malik, whoever, Evan, whoever that may be, it’s going to come down to decision-making.
Malik has a different skill set, 5’11”, 190, he can roll. Hard guy to take down.
There can be a role for both of these guys. We have to see as it goes forward, see what gives us the best chance to move the ball, what gives us the best chance to win games.
Q. You speak on the success at App State, the connection you have there. Why Louisville now? Why did it make sense at this point in your career?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: I think for several reasons. Number one, at App, the last four years we went to four straight bowl games and won four straight bowl games, three conference championships. What else can you do there? I don’t know what else you can do at App State.
The only thing we didn’t do was play in a New Year’s bowl game there. Obviously takes an extremely special here.
I love App. 23 years I spent there, a lot of time. But the opportunity to coach, to be a head coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference is a tremendous honor for me. These jobs just don’t become available, people actually want you very often. If that’s goal or dream of yours, you have to take advantage of it.
After meeting with Vince Tyra, the athletic director, I think it’s a great fit. Here is the thing that kind of weird when you take these jobs like this, is that we play for our conference championship on Saturday against Louisiana Lafayette. Sunday I meet with Vince, Monday I get offered the job. You don’t have time to do a bunch of research. You’re either going to go take it or you’re not.
It was a great opportunity. A lot of good tradition there. I said, Let’s go do it. You can’t look back. You take it, run with it. We’ve had a great six, seven months thus far. But for me to be able to play in this league and to be able to come back, play in Raleigh, play in Winston, coming back to where I grew up, it’s pretty cool for me.
Q. Having grown up in the ACC, having been someone that respects the league, can you imagine what your emotions may be on September 2nd as you’re standing in the tunnel getting ready to face one of the most recognizable brands in all of the 150 years of college football?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: I don’t think of it that way. I don’t need to (laughter).
It’s pretty cool. It’s awesome. It really is. I’ve been playing football since I was seven years old, playing or coaching. I absolutely love the sport, I think it’s the greatest sport ever invented.
The opportunity to put together a team with over a hundred guys, everybody on the same page. It’s a tremendous honor. To be able to play a team like Notre Dame the first game, to be on Monday night, national TV, it’s going to be pretty cool.
But you got to stay in the moment. You got to do your job. You got to control what you can control, the things we talk to our players all the time about. We got a job to do that night.
Obviously one day when you look back, you’re going to say, Man, that was an awesome moment. Obviously one that I’ll cherish.
Q. You were described by Dorian was as being laid-back. That is an accurate description?
SCOTT SATTERFIELD: Probably in the coaching world, absolutely. There’s a lot of coaches that are in your face all the time. I do have a laid-back mentality. I’m even-keeled. You can say laid-back, but I’m even-keeled. I can get amped up pretty good when need to be. But I’m very competitive, too. I want to win at everything that I’m doing.
I think our job as coaches is to get our players to lead the team, get our players to have that emotion. It’s their team. I think that’s my leadership style, is to really kind of guide the ship. But it’s their team.
We’re trying to mold these guys to take charge and to hold each other accountable because when it’s go time, you want to win. You want to beat whatever that is, whatever that competition may be that particular day. That’s the way we’re training our guys.
I’m every bit as competitive as anybody going. But you got to be who you are. I’m more of an even-keeled type guy. Hopefully that will translate to something that’s good on the sideline when you’re getting into the battle of things.