(Photo of Bryan Brown: University of Louisville Athletics)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Louisville football program recently kicked off the start of spring practice, as the Cardinals conducted their first of 15 spring practice sessions this past Monday.
Following their second practice of spring ball on Wednesday, defensive coordinator Bryan Brown and cornerback Kei'Trel Clark took time to meet with the media. They discussed the goals of spring practice this year, what they hope to accomplish, the newcomers and how they've progressed, and more.
Below is the transcript from their press conference as well as the videos:
Defensive Coordinator Bryan Brown
(On what he tries to get accomplished early in spring)
You talk about just spring ball in general, you always got to start with the fundamentals. That's the main thing. Just make sure our guys are fundamentally sound. We're not game planning for anybody, we're not scheming offense, we're just trying to get in out base stuff and do a great job with the fundamentals. That's the first and foremost thing. Then the next thing is effort. Just make sure our guys give a lot of effort, and doing just little things right, making sure we execute our base. That's the main - the most important thing for spring ball.
(On what the focus is to take the next step)
I think the first thing you look at is pinning teams on first down. You got to be able to win those in order to get guys behind the sticks a little bit, to where you can get some more third and longs, as opposed to a lot of 3rd and shorts. So you can get off the field on third downs as well, right? So, first down, those type of things, and then making sure we're able to get off the field on third downs when they do come up. That's gonna be one of the focuses defensively. I thought I tackling got better as the year continued to progress. We didn't give up a lot of explosive plays toward the second half of the season, which was great to see. Those are the things we focus on this spring, just making sure you - we got to get some negative plays, and on third down we got to get off the field.
(On how big it is to have so many newcomers)
It's awesome. All three guys that are safeties that we signed, all three of them here. We had only two returning safeties coming back, so having both of those guys back, and then the new freshmen, and then we added a transfer in Kenderick Duncan. So you got four new safeties and two new guys that are on campus already. It's awesome to get those guys now, because as we know, that's the backline of your defense. We got to make sure that those guys are on point, and understand what we're trying to get done and accomplish defensively, so we can execute it and don't give up to be plays in the backend. But it was awesome man to get those guys out there, especially those rookies man. Them guys, their heads are spinning and going so fast. But they're not complaining at all, and ready to roll. I'm excited.
(On how big it was to land Kenderick Duncan)
Oh man, I expect Kenderick to come in and play like a All-ACC player. He looks it, but he also plays like it. He's not a 'looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane', whatever it is, but he plays like Tarzan. He's a smart cat man, that understands what we're doing, like I said before he was in a similar defense. He's teaching these young guys our calls and checks, and things of that nature. He's just another quarterback on the field, that's awesome to have back there. We're excited to have him on our squad.
(On his promotion to associate head coach)
It just means a lot. Coach Satterfield and our administration believe in what we're trying to get accomplished here, and just understand that you got to have great continuity in order to be successful in any anything. Whether it's in a business, in our profession in college sports, in football in general. It was awesome just to be able to get a promotion from Coach Satt. I do want to be a head coach at some point in my career, and then throw in a little bit more responsibilities on my plate. It can take some off of Coach Satt, that's also great. It's a blessing just to be wanted by a great institution, as here in Louisville. We're excited, and it's also good to be wanted by other schools as well. They let you know what you're doing is something right, and people see it from the outside. But it's also just great that our kids are doing things the right way, and Coach Satt is just a great guy. When a guy's been as loyal as he is to myself and my family, how can I not be loyal to him, and do do right by him as well? It was just great, we're just excited to be here, and excited to keep this thing rolling in year number three.
(On if the interception numbers can increase from last year)
Absolutely, I really do. When you talk about the corner standpoint, with Chandler (Jones), this will be number three. He's getting so much more comfortable, and understanding what we're doing. You see him taking chances, and that's awesome. Because now, he has a really good grasp of the defense, and understands what we're trying to get accomplished. Same thing with Tre (Clark). This will be year number two - he didn't even have an offseason with us. He came right in and it was a plug and play. It wasn't an offseason or anything of that nature. So this is huge for him. He's kind of like in that true freshman type phase within the offseason, so it's great for him - offseason program and the weight room, as well as us an offseason with PoP's and now spring ball. So that's gonna be great for him. Same thing for Greedy (Vance). It's gonna be great for those guys to be able to help even the younger guys. But I do think, even from a safety standpoint, even though those guys are younger, they're athletic. Now you'll be able to see some guys being able to make some plays on some balls, and I hope and pray, that they will be able to up that interception total next year.
(On if it's a trade-off to have long, athletic safeties at the cost of experience)
Oh, absolutely. We talk about all the time, we want guys that are able to play multiple positions. From a safety standpoint, all those guys should be able to walk down and play on 'Card' to the field. They should always be able to do that. We should always have some wheel linebackers are able to play the 'Card' to the field, or the 'Mike' - to be able to play multiple positions. When you got that, then you're really an athletic defense, and then the ceiling is high for you to be able to do what you want to do, and to give teams different looks at different times. We're excited to be able to have some longer, athletic guys, that you could possibly move around if a guy gets hurt, or in this case now COVID. Now you guys that could move around and play multiple positions, and that's going to help on defense.
(On how the newcomers have fared over the first couple of practices, and who is someone who's starting to get acclimated)
Right now, those freshmen heads are doing this: Spinning, spinning, spinning, spinning, spinning. That's what they're doing right now, because we go so fast in practice, man. We have some really, really good skill, especially in the receiver room - where guys are just running super fast, and I'm like, 'holy cow, like these guys are really fast'. The one thing I love about those guys, they're coming in and they're trying to get extra work, and in the film room. You rarely have that. We didn't have that a lot in the last couple of years here. But they're eager to learn, they're easy to coach, they want to get better, they're challenging each other. It's awesome to see man, it's awesome to see. You got a guy like Ben Perry, who's doing a tremendous job for us right now in the first couple of days. He understands football and he loves it. He's in our staff meetings every single day just trying to get extra work, and trying to see what we're trying to put in for the day. You look at a guy like TJ Quinn who's getting great reps, Bralyn Oliver and all that. But I think the one guy has shown a lot of flash every single day, whether it's PoPs, or even the first few days, is Ashton Gillotte. That cat is quick, man. He's quick, and he plays with a relentless effort. We're excited to have him on his defense in here as early as he is right now.
(On if he feels like they are where they want to be as far as depth on the defensive line)
I think so. I think when you look at the actual depth on paper, I think we no doubt are getting there. I think this year, number wise, we'll be where we where we want to be. But then you got a lot of young guys too. So for actual depth, that's kind of what you have a trade-off in a way. But we're most definitely getting there. I think having (Tabarius Peterson) coming back, that helped us with the experience. Having YaYa (Diaby) back, that helped us. The one one spot where we're kind of young a little bit, is at the nose spot with Dezmond Tell and Malik Clark. They haven't played a whole lot, but I think we got a lot of really good young guys that are ready to come in and step into a role, and play a lot early. That's what we expect, especially for those guys that are not here right now. We expect those guys to come in and plug and play.
(On the strength and conditioning staff)
Man, (Coach Sirignano) and his staff do a tremendous job. I've been with Coach Mike going on since 2014. You can just tell. He takes the before and after pictures, and those guys' bodies change, and change a lot. You can attest to that, because you saw those guys a month and a half ago, and they're bigger. Same thing for our freshman. They've been here going on four weeks now, and they're bigger. They're weighing a lot more. Their physique is changing. But he does a good job of getting those guys in the shape, getting those guys mentally ready. He does an awesome job of challenging those guys each and every day. He does a tremendous job, him and his staff both.
Cornerback Kei'Trel Clark
(On if the defense is hungry to build off their success from last season)
Everybody is buying in. Everybody's getting extra work in, more than previously when I first got here. After practice, you might see about 15 guys getting extra work in, even if we had a long practice or we just had a long run. Everybody might go inside the weight room, they might catch some balls. I just feel like everybody is just more hungry, because they don't want to lose. We don't want to lose no more. We want to be top dogs. We're tired of being the underdogs. We want to be a Clemson of the ACC. We want to take over. I feel like to do that, we got to put the work in that's necessary. I feel like everybody is hungry. I know I'm hungry. 4-7, that ain't what we want. I feel like we're just changing the narrative, and we elevating the standard.
(On how much it benefits him that he will get to have a spring ball and fall camp after being a late arrival last season)
Well, it was crazy. I came at a time - we were going straight into fall camp. The season was a couple of weeks away, so I basically just had to learn everything that the corner did. I didn't worry about who was my help, where the linebackers was going to be, what the safeties had to do. I was just worried about, 'what did I have to do?' So now, trying to become a captain of this defense, I'm trying to learn everybody's position now. Being that I have a spring, and I'm gonna have a fall camp, I feel like it's gonna be dangerous. It really is. I feel like this year is going to be, not being cocky in a way, but I feel like it's gonna be a great season for me. Because I get to learn the playbook in and out, and have the time to work with it, and look at it more than I did when I first came in. When I first came in, it was kind of like everything in my face. So now, it's calm now. I can look at the playbook, and take the time to look at where my safety is going to be in this coverage. So now, it can put me in better positions to know, 'alright he's gonna be right there'. So I can take this, and I can trust him that he's gonna be there, because I know now. It's good now.
(On if he has advice for the newcomers of the program)
Most definitely. I try to talk to them all the time, and tell them to trust in the process. Some of these guys, they came from some good high schools, and had three stars, four stars. I tried to tell them, even though you had all those big offers, you're here now. Everybody was the top dog at their high school. That doesn't matter anymore. So now, it's all about trusting the process now, doing the things that you need to do so you can get on the field and stand out. Because at the end of the day, Coach Brown don't care if you were a four star in high school. Because at the end of the day, he wants players that he can trust and put on the field, whether they had zero stars or anything. For instance, I didn't have any stars. They tried to give me some stars now, but I didn't have any stars. It's all about driving motivation. I try to talk to them, talk to them younger guys like Bralyn Oliver and a couple other guys, and just tell them trust the process. It's not going to be easy, but it will get easier, as much as you put your work in. So I just try to tell them young guys, just try to get some extra work after practice with them, and on the weekends we might get some extra work. Try to bring them along the way, because some of the young guys that just came in, they came early, so they're really supposed to be in high school right now. They're above the game, right? Just putting them a step higher, so when we get to fall camp, and the other freshmen come in, they're already gonna be like they're veterans already. It's all about that.
(On of the secondary can build off their success last year and up the interception numbers)
I'm gonna just say one thing. I'm changing my mindset, my mindset has changed a little bit over the course of time. I just want to let y'all know, that it's gonna be dangerous. That's all I'm gonna say. It's gonna be real dangerous.
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