Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield took several questions from reporters Monday morning in advance of Saturday afternoon’s opener with Penn State.
Here’s a transcript of what he said — from openers in general to Trace McSorley and playing the role of underdog:
Scott Satterfield: First of all, we’re very excited to start the season. We obviously had a great year last year and, coming off that, (a) really good offseason. So now it’s finally here. We talked about that.
We do have a bit of a challenge ahead of us this week, playing Penn State up on the road at their place, a hostile environment. And just really excited about going into that; Coach (James) Franklin and his staff and their players have done a great job. They have some really good players, they’re scheme-coached well. A lot of things you look for in a top-10 program, they have that. So it’s a big challenge, but we’re looking forward to it — and our guys are eager to show the hard work they put into the offseason and showing what they got.
You’ve gone through five of these season openers. What’s this week like for you? What’s changed since that first one?
SS: Well, not really a whole lot. We pretty much do it the same way that we prepare for any game; this just happens to be the first one. And I think there are some questions that have to be answered whenever you do play that first game. You’re trying to find out your strengths, your weaknesses, what you do well and that’s what you want to do.
You have an idea about that going into the opening game — and it’s the same thing with personnel. You have a pretty good idea about a bunch of your personnel, but there are a couple guys that you don’t really know what they’re going to do until they go out there and play in that first game. So those are some of the unknowns. But, as far as preparation goes, we treat it like any other game.
Trace McSorley is widely seen as a Heisman contender. What have you seen from him, and how do you stop a player like that?
SS: Well, the thing that stands out about him is that he’s just a football player. He’s not a prototypical NFL-caliber (guy) as far as size, maybe the arm strength that you look for. But he is what we like to call a football player — he makes plays with his legs, with his arm. Whatever you ask of him, he’ll do it
If the play’s breaking down, he can go make those plays, get the ball in the hands of those playmakers. They utilize his legs quite a bit; that’s what I think separates him from a lot of players. He’s very tough to defend, and what he does is take care of the football and he puts their offense in the position to make plays.
You look at last year, they scored a lot of points throughout the season. And they’re extremely difficult to defend. I think he’s the catalyst for everything they do offensively.
Saturday is the 11th anniversary of Appalachian State-Michigan. James Franklin reminded his team about that. How do coaches in your position use that?
SS: Well, it just proves that on a special day, anything can happen. You have to go in and you have to have that belief that you can get it done. And I think that just proves that you can get it done; it just happens to be our school that did it back in 2007. And there’s other examples throughout sport history that proves that fact — that no matter how big the underdog is that they always have a chance and an opportunity to win. And that proves it.
For us, we don’t really ever talk about it. We do in the offseason; we do recruiting. But when we got to play a football game, we’re trying to put our preparation into the best we can do on that day.
That was 11 years ago. It was a different team, different staff, different everything. So it just proves that underdogs can go in and win a game.
What do you remember most about that day, being on the sideline there?
SS: Well, I was in the press box calling the plays that day. I remember everything. I remember everything about that day. It was obviously a special day.
I remember playing at 12 noon on the very first game on the Big Ten Network. And I remember scoring on our first third down we had; it was a slant that (Dexter) Jackson takes close to 70 yards for a touchdown. And we knew at that point we had a chance to hang with those guys. And we did enough to hang out at the end; we had a field goal, and we blocked the kick at the end.
I can visualize the whole game. I can see it. It was obviously a special day, for anyone who was an App State fan or a player or coach that was there. It was a great day and one that we’ll never forget.