(Photo of Malik Cunningham, Jalen Mitchell: Atlantic Coast Conference Pool)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Louisville Cardinals (3-6, 2-6 ACC) found themselves back in the win column last Friday night, shutting out and dominating the Syracuse Orange, 30-0. Next up, Louisville goes back on the road to face the Boston College Eagles (5-4, 4-4 ACC). Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 28 at 4:00 p.m.
Prior to their upcoming matchup, offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford, defensive coordinator Bryan Brown and cornerback Kei'Trel Clark took time to meet with the media. They discussed the previous game against the Cavaliers and previewed the upcoming game against the Orange.
Below is the transcript from their press conference as well as the videos:
Offensive Coordinator Dwayne Ledford
(On RB Maurice Burkley and his journey from walk-on to where he is now)
I think it's fantastic. There's several guys like that, that were kind of in that role, and as we got here guys have worked hard. It's not given, a scholarship, they went out and earned it. I can't say enough things about Burkley and just the work that he's put into it. It's been fun to go out there and watch him compete on Saturday. I mentioned this last week as well, this is a thing that's exciting. These guys that haven't been getting these opportunities, getting them now and seeing what they're doing with those opportunities. He's worked everything for what he's gotten. He somebody that works extremely hard. He's somebody that obviously grabbed our attention when we first got here, and obviously he earned a scholarship when we first got here. I'm proud of him. Proud of the way he runs and just the way he goes about his business. The things behind the scenes also, and just how he is as far as just being a good vocal guy, a good teammate, things he does without the ball in his hands with the Blitz pickups and everything like that. He's a guy you can definitely count on and is very accountable as well.
Everything that he does, it's full speed. It's fourth and one for him. Give him the ball, let him go get the first down. He's like that in his approach with his offseason training, he's like that in the meeting room, he's like that in walkthroughs. Those are the type of players, that from a culture standpoint, that you want. Because you know they're going to give you everything that they got.
(On the play of QB Malik Cunningham)
He's such a dynamic player. You look back at the Virginia game and some of those plays, if things break down in the pocket, he's got the ability where he can tuck the ball and he can run and pick up significant yards or score touchdowns from anywhere on the field. So with a player like that, you want him on the field and you want the ball in his hands. Obviously, the turnovers are something that we got to continue to work on and fix. That's something that we're all working hard at, including Malik. But he's a special talent, and he's a special player with the ball in his hands. But we got to take care of it. At the same time, there's so much that he can do not only throwing it, but just with his legs. When a play may break down, extending that pocket just buying himself some time so those receivers might get open later. He does a lot of things with his legs as well that's very, very good for us offensively.
(On Boston College's opportunistic defense with creating turnovers)
The thing that stands out about Boston College is, we were speaking about this earlier, it's just how hard their guys played. They got some guys up front that have a tremendous motor. They are going full speed, relentless, trying to get to the ball, they're trying to strip at the ball. When you play that way, when you're giving it everything you got, good things are going to happen. I think that's a good way when you look at Boston College, that's what you see. That's what you see on film. You see guys all around the ball. You watch the Clemson game, the Notre Dame game, they're relentless in their pursuit. They're getting there to the football, wherever it is. Be it a pass trying to get a quarterback, be it a receiver catching a football, guys are running down the field pursuing it, and even in the run game. Those guys are playing really good defense and playing hard right now.
Defensive Coordinator Bryan Brown
(On the defense's improvement since the Notre Dame game)
I think the main thing is, the guy's attention to detail and focus. They got that itch about them, that chip on their shoulder, to where they want to prove something. That they can be a really good defense and a really good team. Overall, in general, I think that's been one of the main things: the focus and the attention to detail. They've been playing with a lot of passion since that Georgia Tech game. So I say attention to detail, the passion for the game, and just executing. When the guys are executing at a high level, you get the result that you get from a Notre Dame to 12 points or Florida State to 14 points, and then this last game when we have all of our guys and it was a zero. So I think the attention to detail, the passion and the focus with execution has been one of the biggest things for sure.
(On the tackling drills implemented after the Georgia Tech game)
Well, we did it for three straight weeks and then once COVID hit us after the Virginia Tech week, we stopped just because of bodies. Just making sure that we didn't get anybody hurt or anything like that. Just wanted to get to practice and make sure the guys were able to know what they had, especially a lot of young guys that had to play a lot of snaps for us when we had all those starters out. So we stopped and we haven't went back to it. I think now, the guys understand the intensity that we would want to have at practice, that we don't have to do that so much. We only tackled twice throughout fall camp, and then you're tackling on game day. Normally during fall camp, you're probably tackling a whole lot more. But with the COVID deal, trying to you know keep space from each and everybody, I think that kind of hurt us a little bit. But the guys responded well with not tackling the last two weeks, and just getting afternoon practice in. We had our best practice week, to date, since we've been here.
(On the play of the secondary and how they have improved the play of the front seven)
It pays dividends, man. When your secondary's playing, especially in a league where we have a lot of teams that love to pass the football. Now you're able to load up the box a little bit more, because you can rely on your cover guys to cover. They're doing a good job right now and understand the formation, understanding keys and just doing their job. That allows some of the front guys to be able to get a little pressure to where he has to throw it away, as well as you know get a couple sacks as we did on Friday. So it's a great sight to see the guys playing well and being where they're supposed to be. Knock on wood, we haven't had many busts in coverage to where we're turning guys loose, and I think that's a big key too. When you're not allowing big plays and easy plays to where offenses can score or get a big chunk of yardage, it allows the defense to be a little bit better than normal. I'm enjoying seeing these guys play well, play fast, play hard and making plays. Now we just got to get more picks, and then we'll be playing really, really well as opposed to being like some volleyball players setting up for kill shots.
(On DL Jared Goldwire's play during that span)
In this defense, you gotta have a nose (tackle) that plays with a reckless abandonment. That plays fast, that plays really, really physical, and then demand double teams. Because if you don't demand a double team, then you should kick butt in this defense if they want to block you one-on-one with their center. If he can command double teams, and he's still able to split them, that allows your backers and your second level defenders to fit their gaps really easily, as well as fast. They can get downfield and play ball. When you have a nose like Goldwire, it makes your defense so much better. The anchors of this defenses is the nose. You got to have a pass rush outside and inside backers that can run. You got to have safeties that can cover as well as tackle in space, and get us into checks. You got to have those guys on the outside. You better be able to cover, and that's one thing we've done so far in the games that we played really well.
(On Boston College's passing attack, and the play of QB Phil Jurkovic)
They've done a great job schematically with this group. You're exactly right, they're not the lineup in 13 & 12 and just try to smash it down your throat with AJ Dillon last year. One thing they're doing is still getting some of those big packages in make you uneasy running the football. They're doing a good job with all the play actions and you boots and nakeds and things of that nature, to where they make you honest. They make you play the run as well. But they're going to throw the football as well. I think they're doing a great job of mixing it up, and giving you different formations - doing a lot of the same stuff, just out of different formations and different looks. They keep it a simple for (Jurkovic), giving him reads where he can go 1-2-3. He knows where the guys are, and he's throwing it on time. I think the one thing he does well is when he's outside of the pocket. He's playing backyard football, he's pointing the guys to them where to go, and he's hitting them. I think that's one of his strong points. So we got to do a great job of keeping him in the pocket, making them feel uncomfortable and seeing where we are at the end of the day.
Cornerback Kei'Trel Clark
(On what has worked so well over the last few weeks for the secondary)
I would say practice. We come into practice with mindset that we're gonna be our best in that practice. I feel like we've been going hard in practice. The better we practice, I feel like the better we play as a defense. I feel like that's the main thing. When I talked to y'all before, I told you things like getting turnovers in practice, getting the ball out and all that - there'e a direct correlation. They end up turning into interceptions and turnovers in a game. That's pretty much what I think it is, practice.
(On how much of a relief it was to secure his first collegiate interception)
I ain't gonna lie, as soon as I caught the pick, I started laughing. I probably should have thought about running, but I started laughing as soon as I got it because, I just prayed to God just to let him take over. I just let everything in His hands. I pray to Him every quarter, just talking to him as I say, I just pray that you just give me the confidence to come out here to play to my best ability. When that play came to me, I was just excited, man. I was supposed to how about three or four of them right now, but it's all good. I'm blessed with the one I got. Gonna continue to strive to get more.
(On the reason for holding Syracuse to one third down conversion)
Like I said, it all goes back to practice. Tuesday and Wednesday practice is the practice where we go against our own offense. We do Third & 7, third down is a serious thing. You're trying to get off of the field so out offense can get back on the field. We emphasize third down a lot in practice, so that's why I feel like in a game, we'd be in a perfect position to get off the field.
(On being the No. 9 passing defense in the nation)
It's most definitely a confidence booster. Despite the record right now, as a defense, we're not settling for where we're at. We also know that there's more heights to reach. We still got two more games left, so we're trying to win out. We're trying to ball as a defense and as a team, too. But I'm just speaking for the defense right now. It's a confidence booster, but at the end of the day, we got to keep on making plays. So we can't really pay attention to what the stats say or anything like that. We just gotta ball, control what we can, know our assignments, so then we can continue to strive to be the number one (passing) defense in FBS football, not the ninth. Because we're still behind, if you want to be real. Ninth ain't good enough, you're always trying to get better.
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