LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Thanks to a game-winning, 66-yard interception return for a touchdown from Jaylin Alderman, Louisville was able to outlast UCF in a 42-35 barnburner Friday evening at Cardinal Stadium.
Here's what head coach Scott Satterfield, quarterback Malik Cunningham, tight end Marshon Ford, inside linebacker CJ Avery and running back Jalen Mitchell had to say following the win:
Head Coach Scott Satterfield
"First off, just hats off to Central Florida. What an incredible college football game. Coming into this, you don't like to play three games in 12 days. But, ESPN, they live for games like that, I promise you that. What a show we put on for everybody and it's great to be a part of it and to be on this side of it. I just can't say enough about our guys and how they fought. Guys were flying around, and that was every phase, special teams, offense and defense. It wasn't perfect, but the way they continued to fly around and make plays. We had guys that were cramping, we had guys get dinged here and there and they kept coming back into the game. We had to sub some guys. The fight of Cunningham was incredible tonight. He was one of the ones that got dinged, but he wouldn't come out of the game. That's why his teammates love him. That's why he's a captain. That's why he's our quarterback. That right there. People don't see how he handles himself on a day in and day out basis. He'll give everything out there and he'll fight for everything. Sometimes it gets him in trouble, but he's fighting for everything and that's why we love him. That's a big reason why we won the game. It was awesome to see some guys step up tonight, some freshmen scored some touchdowns. That was (Jaylin) Alderman's only play and he gets in the game and he gets a touchdown. I said that was divine intervention. He's in the game right there at the very end with 18 seconds to go into game. He sits out there in the flat, the ball gets tipped right to him, he's not even supposed to be there, he catches it and goes and scores a touchdown. You can't write a script any better than that. He's a great kid, too. He's going to be a really good player for us. I said that the coaches were screwing up because we're not playing him more. He played one snap and got a touchdown so he's got to play a lot more, right? But, he laughed at that. But, he'll get his time, he'll play more. It was just an incredible college football game so I'm proud of our guys. They had to believe tonight and they didn't quit all the way down to the end."
(What was the call to put Alderman in the game late and thoughts as he was running down sideline?)
"I was excited, really I was thinking God is good, that's what I was thinking when he was running down the sideline, it really was. The reason why he gets to get into game is because he is as smart as any one of our linebackers. He's a true freshman, but he studies everything and he just knows what to do when you put him in. That was a little bit different circumstance because we're in prevent mode. They got the ball right there and you don't want to give up a touchdown. But, that's why he went in because we felt like he knew what to do in that scenario."
(On needing a spark for the rest of the season)
"We always want to win. We take the field to go win football games and sometimes we don't win. You have to make plays to win football games and last week we took the field and we won by 27 and that was a great win. That's the way we see it in house, and as long as our kids believe in here, that's what matters, and they continue to fight. If you don't have belief, you don't have any confidence, then you can't go do that right there. You can't. We're not listening to the noise that's been out there, our kids just continue to fight and that's what happens. We played two college football games. The sky is not falling and now we're 2-1. This game is just one game. It's one game. There'll be another one next week. I told them they can have tomorrow off since we have a free day, they can have tomorrow off to celebrate this win, but Sunday we have to get back in here and get ready for Florida State, we're on the road. We're on the road the next two weeks. Everybody we play, they have scholarships, and they have great coaches, and we have to fight our tails off to go win college football games, and we got some guys that are dinged up right now, we're going to have to get guys healed up in order to go down and play a great game next week. What it proves tonight is that if you do believe and if you do put a great game plan together, our coaches did a phenomenal job with the game planning this week by the way, offense and defense. They're an up tempo offense, they had 64 plays and we ran 76 plays, that's incredible. They were averaging 622 (yards) a game and they had 420, that's incredible. There's a lot of stuff. They were giving up 22 yards rushing, and we had almost 200 yards rushing. Our coaches did a fabulous job this week of putting together a game plan and our kids knew it and they executed it, and that's what, as a coach, the joy I get to see for the guys on the field making those plays, that's why I coach. It's not for anything else. It's not for the money, it's not for power, it's not for anything else. That's what I told them on Friday night, that's why I coach. There's nothing else about it, it's to see the joy on their face. You put a plan together and they go out and execute the plan. And that's what they did. That's why we coach and that's why we play this game."
(On the energy of the game)
"I think the guys understood what we were doing. We had a great game plan and again, we had a short week which has been hard on our guys physically and mentally. The thing that we tried to do as coaches is to keep them fresh, so we didn't put pads on this whole week. We had two walkthroughs this past week, we had one day where we actually run through, and that was just wearing helmets, so we were not hitting at all. That's what we wanted, we wanted them to have a lot of energy more than to be physical and all that. We just want to be able to fly around and play hard because we knew it was going to be a hard-fought game. We talked about it, hydrate, eat, get your sleep. I said that 100 million times in the last two weeks, but it pays off tonight because they were able to unleash, and they went out and played so hard and we fed off the crowd. It was loud out there. On their third downs, the crowd got into it, and they couldn't hear anything. We caused a couple false starts with that and that's what home field advantage is all about. We have to have that and that's awesome. I hate for anybody that didn't come out here tonight because they missed an unbelievable game, that's like one of the best football games you're ever going to see. And I get to see it from a front row seat, so it was awesome. Certainly, we'll build off it and I can't wait to get back out on Sunday."
(On taking advantage of the passing game more)
"We look at the difference and we say, how can we attack this defense. We just felt going in that they play a lot of man and we felt like our guys could get open in that man coverage and we'd be able throw some footballs and that's why we hit some of those early in the game. We probably could have hit some more; we'll go back and watch that film. We had a couple of snafus on home protections that had a guy free twice. We thought we did take advantage of that, but we knew we also needed to run football. Coming into this game, watching them shut Boise (State) down in the second half, they could not run the ball. Bethune (Cookman) could not run the ball. We were a little concerned with that. We felt we needed to get (Malik) Cunningham involved in the running game and we did early, he had some big runs, and then hitting some of those inside runs with our running backs. (Jalen) Mitchell ran hard tonight, really hard. We played four backs tonight, they were running hard, they were blocking, it takes everybody."
(On the play of Marshon Ford)
"Last week, and really the Ole Miss week too, Ford was under the weather and missed a lot of time in practice. He's not completely in shape. Even tonight, he was hurting. He felt a lot better this week. We were going to utilize him. I have said that all camp, that we were going to use Marshon because he is one of our best receivers. And tonight, we were able to do it. This is the first game that he has felt really, really good. We put him out there. And by the end of it, he was soaking wet, sweating like crazy. He was tired. As a matter of fact, we had to sub him a little in the second half. He is a hard guy to cover because he is so big. He is a great person to throw to because you know he is going to catch the ball".
(About playing freshmen)
"We believe in those guys. As the season progresses, they are going to get more and more playing time as it presents itself. We have a lot of freshmen on this team, including those newcomers. Ashton (Gillotte) has been one of the mainstays out there as one of our better D-line men. (Michael) Gonzalez was one of the guys that was hurt, who could really play and is another great freshman. Our coaches did a great job of recruiting those guys. They are playmakers and we believe in them. That is why we play them. We don't care if they are freshmen or seniors. We are going to play the best players. I have always believed that. Guys out there can say 'hey, I have a chance to play' and they do. A senior does, too. Whoever is going to make the plays, that is who we want to play. We know we have to create depth because it is a long season. The more we can get these guys in action and get them some play and get some confidence, they will be better down the road."
(On Malik Cunningham throwing on the run, is that something that you want him to do more of or was that what UCF was giving you tonight?)
"We want to do both. We want to be able to throw in the pocket, we want to be able to get him outside. We want to mix it up to confuse the blitzers, the guys that are coming in and we have that capability every week. Tonight, again, if some teams present it more than others then we'll use it more. We don't want to be just a sitting duck, just sitting right in the back. So we've got to be able to move him around, get him out to the right, to the left… and then hopefully, we've worked on once you get out of the pocket, now scramble and throw. He did a little bit of that tonight again. I think that's where put pressure on defense."
(On Malik Cunningham play overall and the interception at the end)
"I thought Malik played outstanding. He played gutsy. He just fought all night long. He gave us a great chance offensively, made plays with his legs and his arm. He's a leader and our kids love him. That's why he's out there. On the interception, I think the ball was tipped at the line when he threw the ball and it made it go out to the right a little bit and our linebacker was out there in the flat and in the right spot at the right time and he caught it. Obviously there's nobody out there, if you intercept the ball in the flat, take it all the way to the house. It was a headsy play. That kid, that was his only play of the night, was that interception for touchdown. And he's a freshman."
Quarterback Malik Cunningham
(On the difference from the first two weeks)
"This goes to show all the hard work that those guys have put in up front. I challenged those guys all week in practice to put us on their back and today they did that. The skill players did a great job, running backs, pitched in, (Trevion) Cooley with a touchdown, other players with big runs. All of those guys helped a lot and lead us to a big win."
(On whether this is a game to build on)
"It is a game that we can be proud of. We know that we still have some things to clean up. The injury happened late in the game, and I told myself that I wasn't coming out. The team needed me to finish the game and that's what I did."
(On his interception and the game-winning defensive play)
"There was so much running through my head once I saw the ball tipped up in the air. The defender who tackled me, he hit me to the ground so I couldn't do anything following my interception. The thoughts that were going through my head was to try to knock the ball down because it would still allow us to have a chance at a field goal but when he picked it everything went black, I was stuck there for a second like 'Is this really happening to us. But, I went over the sidelines and sent a prayer up and next play God answered it with the pick six."
(On Braden Smith's touchdown pass)
"Braden (Smith) was a quarterback back in junior college, but I always challenge him in practice when we run that play. The funny thing was he hasn't it all week in practice, but he came into the game and hit it. I believed in him, we have been practicing those plays since camp and Coach (Satterfield) pulled it out of his back pocket and it was a great call."
(On what a win like this can do for the offense)
"This game is a starting point. Since the first two games we started slow, I felt that our guys came out fast and the offensive line put us on their back, so credit to those guys, credit to Coach Bick (Jack Bicknell) and his staff, Coach Satterfield for helping those guys out. I challenged those guys all week to put this offense on their back and they did that tonight, so credit is all due to them."
(On his trust with Marshon Ford)
"We throw that ball in our sleep. That connection has been going on for a very long time. I trust him and he trusts me. I know that I only have to put in the area and he is either going to come down with it and force a pass interference like he did tonight."
(On the other skill players)
"The confidence of those guys is finally starting to show. I believe in those guys. They have been putting in work since last spring. I challenged those guys when I knew that we were losing Tutu (Atwell), Dez (Fitzpatrick) and (Javian) Hawkins. I told them that someone had to step up. Marshon stepped up for us a lot last year, but I challenged him, and he knew that his role has to become bigger. Justin (Marshall) made some big plays tonight, a lot of our guys made big plays and that is what we will have to do the rest of the season for us to win."
(On keeping his eyes downfield)
"I focus on that in practice a lot. I mean last couple of weeks I have missed a couple of receivers downfield. I knew that once I broke contain that all of the defenders were going to close in on me, but tonight I saw Marshon (Ford) down field, Jordan (Watkins) down field, a lot those guys were making a lot of plays for me tonight and that is what kept the drives going, so credit to those guys."
(On how this game can change the dynamic of the season)
"It is crazy how one bad play can turn into a great play when you prepare and trust your teammates. It shows you that the game is never over and to never doubt your opponent, but also never doubt the Louisville Cardinals as well."
Tight End Marshon Ford
(On Malik's thrown interception late)
"When the defender got the interception, I had to acknowledge that he made a good play. He tipped it and picked the ball off. I never lost faith in our defense though because they can and did make the same play, so shout out to our defense for that."
(On Alderman's interception to win the game)
"It was just like one of those miracles. When one of our linebackers stepped down, the true freshman came in and made a great play.
(Talking about struggles the past couple games)
"I have been struggling with my allergies and sinuses bad, which has caused me to struggle, catching my breath, wheezing, coughing up a lot of stuff like that. I have been with the training staff and he gave me medicine to help with it.
(On the momentum from this win)
"I feel like we have a lot of momentum right now, but we still have to get better each and every day in practice. We cannot afford to lose focus, but you could feel that there was different execution in the game plan today."
(On the game plan against UCF)
"We knew this game was going to be a lot faster. The defense was going to have to play faster and more physical. The whole week, coaches were harping on those things, and I felt like we had to prepare for those things in practice."
Inside Linebacker C.J. Avery
(On getting big stops when they needed them)
"We just want to execute at a high-level on defense. We knew that there was a great offense coming in here so we just want to make sure we get them off the field as best as we can."
(On the interception to win the game)
"He's (Jaylin Alderman) just an instinctive player since day one when he got in here. He's just really instinctive, smart kid. If you tell him something he's going to listen to he's going to do it. Right before that play, when I knew he was going into the game I told him, 'just do your job, you will make a play'. He did. He made a big one of the biggest plays Louisville defense has had this year. So, that was great."
(On what he saw in the game plan to slow down UCF)
"The game plan was just to get lined up. It was first to get lined up because we knew that they were an up tempo offense, and they wanted to get to the ball and they want to line up, be fast. And we wanted to minimize the explosive plays and get lined up."
(On how they responded after their early touchdown)
"I feel like we responded well. We knew adversity was going to hit. We always know adversity is going to hit in the game, so you know we're prepared for it. I think we responded well."
(On what went through the defensive huddle after Malik's interception)
"Whenever there is a turnover, Coach Brown always says good, it's just another chance that we get out there and we can prove to the world that we can make a big time play, big time stuff. And that's what we did."
(On celebrating that final play)
"Oh absolutely, man. I'll put it this way, this team put in so much work, we've battled through adversity, and I love to just see all of that pay off."
Running Back Jalen Mitchell
(On what he saw that you could exploit in one of the top rushing defenses in the country)
"They are very fast defense, so they try to take advantage of that and overflow, and with them overflowing, it created cut back lanes from my o-line to just push them out of the way."
(On what it is like to see other skill players succeed)
"It's just exciting, it just shows how much we work in the offseason that young guys can come in and have their time and make those plays. It's not a seniority team, it's whoever can make the play, whoever."
(On Cooley's touchdown)
"He is a light in the room. Every time I see him be successful, I'm going to be happy for him. That's like my little brother. He just lights up the room, that's all I can say."
(Photo of Scott Satterfield: Jamie Rhodes - USA TODAY Sports)
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