LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - New coach Scott Satterfield got his first look at his 2019 Louisville football team and in turn the Cardinals got an idea of what awaits them during their first of 15 spring practice sessions Monday afternoon and early evening.
It's a learning situation for all involved, course, and by all available accounts, things went well for both sides.
Satterfield offered positive reviews after the two-hour practice held in the indoor Trager Center to avoid the rain. He said he has inherited an eager team that has "a bunch of guys that are hungry" after the 2-10 debacle last season, one that "is eager to get out on the football field and learn from all our coaches and everybody involved about what we're wanting."
According to the two players made available to the media after the workout, Satterfield's assessment is right on target.
"It's a lot more positive," junior wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick said. "Taking steps forward, not living in the past. I'm excited for the future. I'm excited for what's going on around here, and the atmosphere is changing around here dramatically."
Cornerback Cornelius Sturghill, who will graduate in May but stay at UofL for his final year of eligibility, echoed Fitzpatrick's comments. Sturghill described the practice as "very fast-paced," adding that the new coaching staff is "more engaged" than the previous staff under Bobby Petrino.
"The coaches, they bring a lot of energy, and that's what the players were looking for," Sturghill said. "They make us want to be here. We're feeding off them, and they're feeding off us."
Satterfield says he wants to have "chaos" in practice.
"It's chaos everywhere -- mind, body, everywhere, right now" he added. "But inside things have to be slow and eventually that's where we want to get to because the game of football changes on every snap. What you're coaching your players initially, it's going to change. It's going to move. We're going to throw a lot at our guys throughout practice."
Satterfield didn't say much about individuals but did note that he was impressed by the depth and athleticism of the wide receiving corps, and that the running backs did some good things.
UofL returns four of its top five receivers, led by Fitzpatrick, who had 31 catches for 442 yards and a team-best three touchdowns. Also back are sophomore Tutu Atwell (24/406/2), and seniors Seth Dawkins (25/329/1) and DeVante Peete (21/250/0).
Two of the running back prospects are limited this spring. Freshman Aidan Robbins, who enrolled early out of Manual High, and junior Tobias Little both wore non-contact jerseys. Robbins tore the labrum in his right shoulder in September, while LIttle suffered a serious knee injury prior to last season.
The most closely watched competition during spring drills will be at quarterback. Malik Cunningham and Jawon Pass were a revolving door combination last year, but will be challenged by freshman Evan Conley, who enrolled in January. Sophomore walk-on Drew Zaubi from South Oldham High School was also part of the quarterback rotation Monday. That group is far too thin to suit Satterfield.
"We've only got three quarterbacks on scholarship; I like to have five because you better have a quarterback," he said. "A guy goes down, you better have the next one. It's not a knock on the players here, it's about having enough quality depth, guys that can come in and help you win championships."
Satterfield said he had watched very little video of the returning players because he preferred to go into spring practice with an open mind and no preconceived notions about a player's ability or attitude and wanted the players to know that they have a clean slate.
The Cards will practice Monday-Wednesday-Friday leading up to a public scrimmage on March 7 in Cardinal Stadium.
"We've got so much film to work off of today to hopefully correct some things before we get back out here on Wednesday," Satterfield said. "We have a lot of work to do, but it was just fun to get out and work with our guys and get around them and see where we're at after day one. These guys are eager to get back into the building and go back to work and learn off their mistakes today."
Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.