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Satterfield frustrated by losses, but it’s not all ‘doom and gloom’ as Louisville meets No. 4 Notre Dame


By Russ Brown
Kentucky Today

This is nothing new for Louisville football head coach Scott Satterfield, but that doesn’t make it any easier to handle.

“We’ve been here before. It’s not any fun, believe me,” Satterfield said Monday afternoon.

He was referring to the Cardinals’ current three-game losing streak, which is looking suspiciously like four in a row considering that their next assignment is No. 4 Notre Dame (3-0 overall, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) Saturday afternoon in South Bend.

Louisville enters Saturday’s game at Notre Dame with a 1-3 overall record. The Cardinals are 0-3 in the ACC.

Scott Satterfield

In his first season at UofL in 2019, Satterfield never even lost back-to-back games. But he can call on his first two years as the head coach at Appalachian State for lessons on how to deal with adversity, and in both cases the Mountaineers were able to rebound from disheartening starts to finish strong in one case and respectably in the other.

His first team at Appalachian State in 2013 finished 4-8, but that record looked good following a 1-6 start. Then in 2014, in their first season in the FBS, the Mountaineers were drubbed in their opener, 52-14 by Michigan, beat Campbell, then lost four straight before winning their last six to wind up 7-5.

So Satterfield can look back on those early years for confirmation of his approach to coaching and impart those lessons to his players for inspiration.

“You take it one week at a time, find a way to make the plays in whatever game you’re playing, and hopefully you come out victorious,” he said. “But it’s never easy. When you put in the kind of work we put in and you go out and you’re not able to celebrate in the locker room, it’s very frustrating. But you just have to stay focused on the task at hand right now.”

Since those first two seasons, Satterfield’s teams have posted a 48-16 record for a .750 winning percentage and his victories rank seventh nationally during that five-year period among FBS coaches.

Asked how he is keeping his players’ spirits up and preventing their motivation from flagging in light of such a disappointing start, Satterfield said that among other things, he reminds them that he and his staff are only 17 games into their rebuilding process from the 2-10 finish in 2018 under Bobby Petrino.

“We are still young in the program with this coaching staff,” Satterfield said. “It’s an everyday process that we’re going through and it’s really just talking about going through the process of becoming a championship caliber team and it’s about habits. It’s about commitment, what you’re doing on a daily basis.

“You can’t just show up all of a sudden when it’s time to shine and think you’re going to be really good. It doesn’t work that way, so we are constantly reiterating the fact that we have to show up every day and how to be committed to the process. I think that’s the biggest thing, and we’re still growing and working on that really.”

Javian Hawkins (10) is Louisville’s top running back. (UofL photo)

Satterfield said he also tries not to dwell constantly on the negative aspects of Louisville’s performances the past three games, although there were certainly many. Instead, he tries to balance his critiques with positive reinforcement, such as pointing out that against both Pittsburgh (23-20) and Georgia Tech (46-27), the Cards were in position to win midway or later in the fourth quarter.

“It’s not all doom and gloom when the guys are in the (football complex),” Satterfield said. “We’re not just constantly looking at all negative things. We’re trying to build off what we are doing good, and then trying to correct the mistakes we have made. It can be very frustrating at times, there’s no question about it for all of us, but we’re working to get better and that’s what we have to do.

“I think when you have bad things happen to you there’s so many people…we’re in a whirlpool of negativity anyway and so it’s really easy just to jump on the negative and talk about how bad somebody is and all those things. What we tell them is, ‘Listen, you’ve got to drown out any kind of noise, any kind of negative talk that’s out there and then focus on what we can control.'”

Quarterback Malik Cunningham said it’s up to him, as one of the team captains, to make sure his teammates are paying attention to the coaching staff’s messages and following through.

“Being down really doesn’t help (anything) in life,” he said. “If you mess up, you’ve got to deal with it as a man. You’ve got to be a man about it, not just a kid. It would be easy to opt out now and just run away from our problems. Nobody wants to lose and right now we’re on a three-game losing streak, which is not what we wanted and not what we pictured.

“We’ve got to bounce back. As a leader, I’ve got to be there for these guys. Stay positive and help them keep their heads up because I know some of them are pretty down. That’s my job and I’m gonna do the best I can.”

Russ Brown covers University of Louisville sports for Kentucky Today.


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