By Spencer Laws
It was Saturday, October 1st, 2016. The Louisville football team was in Clemson, South Carolina playing one of the biggest games in Louisville football history. Senior wide receiver and hometown kid James Quick had a chance to extend the drive and put the Cardinals in a goal-line scenario to win the game.
Quick stepped out of bounds just one yard short of the first down and the Cardinals lost the game.
A lot of fans remember the trajectory the team was headed that year.
Since this play, it seems the Cardinals have fallen, and have fallen drastically; the Cardinals have put up a record of 28-35. They are 1-4 in bowl games since then, and also 1-4 versus in-state rival Kentucky.
Saturday night’s performance versus Syracuse showed everyone that this season is going to likely run parallel to the last 5 seasons if this team’s production from Saturday is the standard set. The optimism was high for fans coming into this season, as major contributors from last year’s success returned, on top of the transfers that joined the team this season.
A lot of Cardinals fans began to point the finger and look at the job that is being done by their head coach and the performance their football team is doing weekly.
Where it Went Wrong
The downfall of the Cardinals comes in a lot of areas, starting off with play calling. Satterfield’s commitment to the run game put the Cards in a lot of long-distance situations. This resulted in a lot of tough situations for quarterback Malik Cunningham, who converted only 5-11 times on 3rd down, and 0-2 times on 4th down.
Averaging 4.4 yards per rush attempt, the team recorded a total of 137 yards on the ground in 31 attempts and a fumble. In the air, Cunningham threw for 197 yards, averaging 8.6 yards per completion on 17-23 attempts with two interceptions.
Overall, the offense was only able to reach the end-zone once. Running back Tiyon Evans was able to break free for a 36-yard run resulting in a touchdown. He’s one of the brighter spots early on for this team.
In the meantime, the defense was not much better, as the tackling display was a huge reason for the undoing we watched. Co-defensive coordinator Bryan Brown stated in his press conference on Tuesday that Syracuse was “a little hungrier than” the Cards.
The defense was scrambling all around the rushing attack of the Orange offense. Syracuse’s offense put up 449 total yards, 208 of those yards on the ground, and 241 in the air. In addition to the yardage destruction, the defense allowed 4 touchdowns and a field goal while forcing 0 turnovers. Interestingly, Syracuse’s 18 penalties are the second most by an opponent since Wichita State’s 19 in 1963.
Looking Forward to This Friday
The Cards turn around from Saturday night with a short week and a trip to Orlando, Florida on Friday to face a very physical Central Florida football team, coached by Gus Malzahn. Malzahn is a former Auburn coach, helping lead the Tigers to a National Championship back in 2010.
UCF has been nearly untouchable at home over recent years. Bestowing a remarkable 31-2 record since 2017, the Cardinal defense faces a Central Florida offense led by quarterback John Rhys Plumlee on Friday. Head coach Scott Satterfield said, “Plumlee may be the fastest QB we’ve ever played against.” Furthermore, Plumlee is a better running quarterback than Syracuse’s Garrett Shrader. Shrader ran 16 times for 94 yards while reaching the in-zone once on the ground.
This is the third time in the four years of Satterfield’s tenure that Louisville has lost its season opener. One can only hope that the team bounces back and can iron out all the kinks before their home opener on the Sept. 16.
Photo Courtesy // GoCards.com //