(Photo courtesy of ACC)
Louisville has their season opener in the books. As with all season openers, things look a little rusty and early season jitters show. It is also the first time the coaching staff has a chance to truly observe how the team will handle in-game situations against live opponents.
The most important thing to note is Louisville got the win. 1-0 is always a good start to the season, and it is much easier than trying to battle uphill the rest of the season to catch up.
Today, we will take a look at some takeaways from Louisville's victory:
-Louisville is not afraid to throw the ball. As the offense continues to get adjusted to Satterfield's offensive scheme, we will see more consistent and aggressive passing. Micale Cunningham threw for a career-high 343 yards on 19-34 passing. He has a solid receiver corps and strong tight ends to rely on, and that trust was strengthened in the win.
-Special teams has a long way to go. We all knew that the loss of Blanton Creque at kicker and Mason King at punter would leave major voids in the special teams. There were two major miscues by the punting unit- one was a fumbled snap by sophomore punter Logan Lupo and the other was missed blocking that led to a blocked punt. We did not get a chance to see freshman kicker Brock Travelstead in a field goal situation, but he made all five extra points. His kickoffs looked solid with a pair of touchbacks, but fans showed concern as he pulled his kicks to the far left side of the field.
-The offensive line blocking was not what we expected. Western Kentucky has a strong defensive front and showed it. However, the Cards were in the red for rushing yards for the first quarter as the trio of Cunningham, Javian Hawkins, and Hassan Hall found no running room or holes to get going. Eventually, UofL relied on their speed to beat the defense on the outside. That should be a pretty easy fix for the coaching staff that should not be much concern in the future.
-There is a clear-cut third receiver. Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick were the obvious 1-2 punch at receiver this year, especially after strong showings last season. Seth Dawkins was the third receiver last year, but he graduated. Sophomore receiver Braden Smith stepped up to the plate to fill that spot. Smith turned four receptions into 110 yards including a pair of late-down conversions.
-UofL handled the new COVID-19 protocol well. Ushers and security were well-prepared for temperature checks and check-ins while quickly getting everyone inside the stadium. At concession stand and restroom lines, fans seemed to take the responsibility to police themselves and keep the social distance requirements intact. The one area of concern was the vast number of fans who chose to either pull their mask below their chin or take their mask off altogether once in their seats. Per UofL requirements, masks are required to be worn at all times except for eating or drinking. That includes sitting in the stands. Yes, the masks can get uncomfortable and hot. And if you're like me, you probably had to deal with your glasses fogging up occasionally. But that is part of the agreement when you purchase tickets and go to the game. We all want a football season so the least we can do is wear the mask properly. Do it for the team if not for yourself.
Now, the Cards have plenty to prepare for with the Miami Hurricanes coming to town next weekend and hosting College GameDay. The coaching staff will have to spend part of the week keeping players focused and avoid the College GameDay distractions.