By Ed Peak
There have been more important games in University of Louisville history than the Music City Bowl come from behind win over Mississippi State last December. But this one was a very convincing win at just the right time, confirming my feeling about the direction of the program.
Louisville football is back. Just one year after enduring a 2-10 season which included a 70-21 loss at Clemson. To come back so quickly and finish 8-5, 5-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, earning Coach Scott Satterfield the honor of ACC Coach of the Year.
This makes one anxious for the upcoming season. Per USA Today all ACC schools plan on having students on campus in the fall. Only Duke, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, Independent in football, haven’t said if they are going to allow students on campus.
No students, no football. Duke and Pitt will decide early to mid-June, the Irish in July. Presuming there are no negative spikes in the Coronavirus.
UofL returns a load of offensive talent, led by sophomore halfback Javian Hawkins who ran for 1,623 yards. Sophomore receiver Tutu Atwell caught 12 touchdown passes and had 1,276 receiving yards. Dez Fitzpatrick is a big physical receiver. Quarterback Malik Cunningham passed for 2,065 yards and 22 touchdowns.
The biggest loss was tackle Mekhi Becton, now with the New York Jets. He could block the sun with his 6-foot-7, 364-pound body. He can move fast. He ran a 4.6 40 at the combine.
The defense needs repair, but has parts to work with. The Cardinals need a break from the 41-39 i’ll just outscore. Wins over Boston College, 62-59 can’t stop anything win at Wake Forest and the 34-20 victory at North Carolina State. The worst losses were to national runner up Clemson 45-10 and at Kentucky 38-28. The Cardinals were in those games until midway through the third quarter.
I’m really looking forward to the season. Satterfield has had a year to implement his system and should be even better prepared in 2020.
Losses at Clemson and Notre Dame are probable. Virginia, the Coastal Champion, will be tough at Charlottesville. Coach Bronco Mendenhall has rebuilt the Cavaliers. Florida State at home with a new coach is a complete unknown.
“Our guys have been very resilient,” said Satterfield. “Our guys are hungry. They can’t wait to get back to campus. What ever they tell us, we’re going to have a plan.”
No one knows for sure when or if there will be a football season. The closer we get to that date, the more promising it looks. Can’t help but be giddy.