Cincinnati coach talks visiting BYU on a Friday night, Kedon Slovis, and importance of leaving with a win
Winner of Friday’s matchup at LaVell Edwards Stadium will become the first Big 12 newcomer to get a conference victory in 2023
After BYU, Cincinnati, UCF and Houston all lost in their Big 12 football debuts last week, or the week prior, in the case of Houston, the race is on to become the first conference newcomer to post a league win.
Cincinnati or BYU will earn that distinction, because the Bearcats and Cougars face off on Friday at LaVell Edwards Stadium (8:15 p.m. MDT, ESPN) in Provo while the other newbies play on Saturday.
“BYU this week, great football team. A lot of respect for years of being a really good football team. For us, short week, having to travel out there. So we are prepared for that.” — Cincinnati coach Scott Satterfield
Cincinnati coach Scott Satterfield said becoming the first of the four to get a win is “absolutely, absolutely” a big deal to the Bearcats, who are 0-2 all-time against BYU. Cincy fell 20-6 to No. 12 Oklahoma last Saturday while BYU was losing 38-27 at Kansas.
“This is our second game in the Big 12, and we need to get a win, desperately. For them, too (it is important),” Satterfield said in his weekly press briefing Tuesday. “(We) are both 0-1. You want to stay on top of the Big 12 and so it is a big game in that regard. You want to at least get a win so you are sitting there at that 1-1 mark in the Big 12, instead of 0-2.
“For the four newcomers, one of us is getting a win for sure this week and it will certainly be exciting,” he concluded. “Hopefully it is the Bearcats.”
Houston is at Texas Tech on Saturday and UCF hosts Baylor.
At the Big 12 football media days last July, Satterfield expressed some dissatisfaction with having to play BYU in Provo on a short week, saying it was the “first thing that stood out” to him when the schedule was released last spring.
“Very challenging,” he said. “No. 1, I hate playing on short weeks. I don’t know anybody that really likes it. … That is a long trip for us and that’s going to be a night game on that Friday night. We know that’s a hostile environment, going out to BYU. They’ve got a great football team and great fan support there. That’s going to be an extreme challenge.”
On Tuesday, three days after the Bearcats gave OU all it wanted at Nippert Stadium, Satterfield didn’t seem as concerned about playing two time zones away on a short week.
“BYU this week, great football team. A lot of respect for years of being a really good football team,” he said. “For us, short week, having to travel out there. So we are prepared for that. So far, (we are) ahead of the schedule as far as the short week goes, game planning.”
He said they practiced Sunday and Monday and (Tuesday) “will be our big work day.”
The Cougars, who don’t practice on Sundays, turned their attention to the Bearcats on Monday.
“Looking forward to having it at home, for our Big 12 home opener,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “Coming off a loss, it actually helps to get on the field a day earlier.”
In his opening comments, Satterfield mentioned that his Louisville team faced now-BYU QB Kedon Slovis last year when the grad transfer was at Pitt. Slovis was 16 of 29 for 158 yards in a 24-10 loss to the Cardinals. He was picked off twice.
Slovis is “a little bit like (Cincy QB) Emory (Jones),” Satterfield said. “I mean, this is his third school, has played a lot of ball. … Very solid player, really has helped them get off on this start they are on right now.”
Satterfield mentioned BYU punter Ryan Rehkow as being “one of the best in the country” and a guy who “can boom it” and flips fields. He also mentioned Jay Hill replacing Ilaisa Tuiaki as BYU’s defensive coordinator and how Hill has seemingly got the BYU defense going in the right direction.
“They play solid defense, and that is how they have been winning games and done some great things,” Satterfield said. “So, another great challenge for us. Looking forward to going out and playing those guys. A lot of respect for what they do.”
Satterfield was asked about playing at elevation — Provo is 4,551 feet above sea level, while Cincinnati is 482 feet — and it isn’t something the Bearcats can control so they aren’t worried about it.
The coach said BYU’s Slovis has “some good skilled wide receivers” at his disposal “that have made some great catches” and specifically mentioned Chase Roberts’ one-handed TD catch against Arkansas.
“I know they are wanting to get the running game going a little bit more,” he said. “They are probably disappointed in how they have run the football, because that will certainly help Slovis. So we anticipate them trying to get the running game going this week.”
As for Slovis, Satterfield said the veteran “is who he is,” and that the Bearcats are preparing for plenty of passes, but maybe not 51 like he threw last week versus the Jayhawks.
“He is a good football player; he has won a ton of football games in his career and again, great poise,” Satterfield said. “I think that is the one (big) thing you will see when we face them.”
Cougars on the air
at BYU (3-1)
Friday, 8:15 p.m. MDT
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM
A sellout crowd of 63,725 is expected, as only a few tickets were unsold as of midday Tuesday.
“These guys are good. As we get into conference play now, it is going to be a broken record week in and week out,” Satterfield said. “There are a lot of really good football teams we have to play in this league. There are great coaches. Some really great venues we are going to play in, as well as this one (is).
“You look at BYU last week. Kansas got a couple touchdowns unconventionally, not from their offense. And they end up losing. So BYU is going to look at that and say we gotta play smart, take care of the ball. All those type things. Because those are the things that get you beat.”