CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For a guy who has never played or coached in the Atlantic Coast Conference, first-year Louisville football coach Scott Satterfield won’t need a crash course in league history.
Satterfield grew up in Durham, where he played little league ball and sold programs at Duke football games.
“We had to sell 10 programs to get in free,” Satterfield said. “We had a concession stand inside of Wallace Wade [Stadium]. So, I grew up going to all the Duke football games.
“This was back when [Steve] Spurrier was the [offensive coordinator]. It was a long time ago. I liked NFL football, too. I liked Randall Cunningham, John Elway — some of the guys who could run and throw.”
For college, Satterfield went to Appalachian State as a non-scholarship player and was an All-Southern Conference choice as a senior, when he had 2,000 yards in total offense, including 649 on the ground, for a team that went 11-0 in the regular season.
“I didn’t really know anything about App State when I went there,” he said of his college choice. “They called and asked me to walk on and, next thing you know, I’d been there 23 years.”
Satterfield’s parents live 14 miles from Durham in Hillsborough, N.C., and while Louisville is in the ACC’s Atlantic Division and won’t be facing Duke, which is in the Coastal Division, the Cardinals will be visiting Wake Forest and N.C. State.
At Louisville, Satterfield is taking over a program that got off to a 2-1 start in 2018 before losing its last nine games, which led to the departure of Bobby Petrino, who had gone 34-18 over the previous four seasons.
Petrino was gone before the final game of the season, when aide Lorenzo Ward was at the helm as the Cardinals were drilled by Kentucky 56-10.
Louisville gave up 50 points or more in seven games, including a 77-16 trouncing at Clemson.
“I think the first impression was that these guys were obviously very hungry [with] a bad taste in their mouth of what happened last year,” Satterfield said. “They want to be good. So, they were very welcoming. They were like, ‘Coach, we’re ready to work. What do we need to do?’”
The Cardinals, limited to one touchdown in three of their last four games are pinning their hopes on 6-foot-4, 239-pound quarterback Jawon “Puma” Pass, who had scholarship offers coming out of high school from the likes of Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame.
Pass threw for 1,960 yards last year but yielded more interceptions (12) than he did touchdown passes (eight). Louisville quarterbacks were sacked 43 times, but Pass rushed for 306 yards not counting losses.
“I’ve been calling plays since 2003,” Satterfield said. “I’ve had a bunch of different kinds of quarterbacks throughout that time. Puma is 6-4, 238 [and has] great size. He fits in that realm where he can run the ball [and] he can stand tall in the pocket.
“I think it’s going to come down to decision-making. Ultimately, in our offense, the quarterback has to be a great decision-maker in the run game and the passing game because there’s so many things we’re asking him to read.”
If Pass doesn’t work out, there’s sophomore Malik Cunningham, who started three times, including the last two of the season. Cunningham actually led the team in rushing yardage (497) and rushing touchdowns (five).
“The spring was very competitive,” said senior Seth Dawkins, who enters the season with 78 career receptions. “I think Puma nudged him out just in the spring, but they’re both getting after it, man.”
Louisville didn’t have a first-, second- or third-team All-ACC selection last season, which speaks to the challenge facing the Cardinals’ new coach.
“Every coach I’ve had has been an up-in-your-face type of guy,” junior linebacker Dorian Etheridge said at the ACC Football Kickoff. “He’s [Satterfield] laid back until you, like, start messing up. Then, definitely, he’ll gladly intervene.”
Louisville was a landslide choice for seventh in a seven-team Coastal Division at the ACC Kickoff for media last week.
“When I first saw these guys, they were obviously very hungry [and] had a bad taste in their mouth of what happened last year,” Satterfield said. “Some left. The ones that are here, they’ve done everything we’ve asked.”