--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photo by Jared Anderson
Louisville football: Three questions for the new year
Happy New Year, Louisville Cardinals fans. Today was Louisville football’s media day; giving the media opportunities to get to know the new team. This year, there is a new coach at the helm, an all-new staff, and different feel to the program.
Scott Satterfield took the reins in December, and has began the process of rebuilding the team after last year’s abysmal season.
How much damage did Bobby Petrino do?
Nothing went right last year. The year after Lamar Jackson’s departure led to Louisville’s worst season since 1997. Much blame could be placed on former coach Bobby Petrino, who couldn’t seem to keep a decent defensive coordinator, and whose offensive mindset apparently ran out.
16 players entered the transfer portal and left the program, or intend to leave, after last year. Notable players include running backs Trey Smith and Malik Staples, Defensive end Michael Boykin, Linebacker Jonathan Greenard, and defensive back Jairus Brents.
Those players will leave a hole in the team. Combined with the last recruiting class in the Atlantic Coast Conference, a significant amount of damage happened. Time will tell how quickly the team can recover.
How long will it take Satterfield to rebuild?
Scott Satterfield is a winner. At Appalachian State, Satterfield led the Mountaineers to three consecutive Sun Belt championships, and did not finish worse than third in the conference in his five years there. He also oversaw Appalachian State’s move to the Sun Belt from the FCS.
It may take time for him to build the team. Satterfield’s second season was his first with a winning record. Then, he led the Mountaineers to 10 or more wins three of four seasons.
Satterfield already has made some good coaching hires. Offensive Coordinator/Offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford spent three seasons with NC State, and helped construct one of the best offensive lines in the ACC.
Defensive Coordinator Bryan Brown followed Satterfield, and led the Mountaineers to the sixth total defense in the nation last year. Frank Ponce is one of the top Florida recruiters, and tutored some of the best Sun Belt offensive quarterbacks.
One of the best moves was the return of Cort Dennison, who was one of Louisville’s top recruiters before he left for Oregon in 2018.
Currently, Louisville has the 30th overall recruiting class in 2020. Dual-threat four-star QB Chubba Purdy leads the class. In the meantime, however, Louisville is ranked 69th for the 2019 class. It is the worst in the ACC.
If the stars align, it may not take too many years for the team to recover.
What should we expect from the 2019 Cardinals?
2019 is a rebuild year. The ceiling is low, but is above two wins. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Cardinals are projected to go 4-8. Louisville has a 97.6% chance of beating Eastern Kentucky, 66.8% against Western Kentucky, and 61.6% against Boston College. They have a more than 35% change against Virginia, and Syracuse.
Five wins may be a stretch. Four wins are more realistic.
One major determinant is how the existing players adapt to the new coaching staff. Jawon Pass was a four-star when recruited, and is listed as co-starting QB alongside Malik Cunningham. Hassan Hall, who was a bright spot last year, returns for his second season. Seth Dawkins and Dez Fitzpatrick both return to the wide-receiver slots.
There will be growing pains for the Cardinals, but fans should trust the process, and know that Louisville will not be down forever.
But soon, there will be football at Cardinal Stadium. Which is almost always an exciting time. The first game is Monday, September 2nd, at 8:00 pm against Notre Dame.