Satterfield happy with progress as Cards end spring practice

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- Louisville's football team wrapped up spring practice Wednesday afternoon and afterwards coach Scott Satterfield called the 15 workouts "very successful."

"A lot of good stuff, a lot of good work this spring," he said during a media teleconference. "I thought we had very good energy throughout the spring on both sides of the ball and on special teams. It's good to see a lot of young guys make plays and get better from the start to the end."

In that category, Satterfield mentioned defensive linemen Ashton Gilotte and Michael Gonzalez and wide receiver Ahmari Huggins-Bruce.

Satterfield, coming off a 4-7 season and operating with four new assistant coaches, said the spring was valuable in giving the newcomers on the staff the opportunity to blend in and get to know the players. He also noted that 10 true freshmen who enrolled early and four key transfers were getting their first indoctrination into the Cardinals' system.

Several players changed positions, including Jack Fagot, from safety to outside linebacker; walk-on Greg Desrosiers from wide receiver to running back; and Desmond Daniels, from tight end to the offensive line.

Fagot (6-0, 195), a former walk-on who was rewarded with a scholarship prior to the 2019 season, has played in 29 games during his career, including three starts last season.

"He's a very heady player to be able to move down closer to the box and I think it will help him," Satterfield said. "He's still learning the position and has to get better, but he gives us more depth at outside linebacker, where we need depth."

One of the most pleasing things for Satterfield was seeing junior running back Hassan Hall show indications that he will return to his 2019 form after regressing last season. He was an All-ACC Second Team choice two years ago after rushing for 501 yards and five touchdown while also returning kickoffs for 793 yards, with a 30.5 average that ranked fourth nationally. But last season he played in only eight games, gaining 223 yards with two TDs, and his kickoff return average dropped to 21.2.

"I thought Hassan, for where he was at in the fall, was a new player this spring," Satterfield said. "We didn't get a lot of production from him last year, we all know that. But he came in with a different attitude and he's worked his tail off. We all know he's very explosive. Hopefully, he's back to that old form he had when we first got here, when he had some big plays for us."

One newcomer to keep an eye on next fall is Shai Werts, a grad transfer from Georgia Southern, where he had 6,000 yards of total offense in 46 games at quarterback. At Louisville he will be primarily a slot receiver but will also fill the role of emergency quarterback.

"He's played a lot of college football, and with that experience it doesn't matter what the position is," Satterfield said. "Understanding blocking assignments as a receiver I think is probably the biggest thing for him. But I think he's a guy that gives us depth at the receiver spot, and we need it."

Last week with two practices remaining, Werts had this to say about his move from quarterback to receiver:

"I have my good days and my bad days. The transition has been smooth and it feels natural. At the end of the day, I'm an athlete, so it's been smooth overall."
Limiting turnovers was a focus going into spring drills because UofL lost the ball 24 times last season, rankin 124th of 127 teams in the FBS. Satterfield thought the Cards made progress, although he acknowledged that he won't know for sure until they face someone other than themselves.

"It's hard to gauge when you're going against each other," he said. "You basically look at decision-making in the throwing game, whether you're throwing interceptions and why, and I think we made some strides in that. I also thought we took care of the football in terms of fumbles a lot better as an overall offense."

UofL will open the 2021 season on Sept. 6 against Mississippi in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta.
"We still have a lot of work to do," Satterfield said. "But the good thing is we still have six weeks left in the semester. We'll use that time learning and growing as a team, we just won't be able to use a football now. But we'll be able to do a lot of things within our team to finish out the semester."

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 0926.russ.brown@gmail.com.

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