season 2020: 4-7, 3-7 in ACC (12th in ACC)
The Head Coach: Scott Satterfield (3rd season)
After getting an 8-5 record in 2019 and helping first-year head coach Scott Satterfield win the ACC Coach of the Year award, Louisville fell to earth in 2020 with a frustrating 4-7 campaign. But even with a fair amount of turnover in the lineup, the Cardinals have the tools to play great football again this fall.
First off, Louisville had a serious problem last season: turnovers. The Cardinals turned the ball a staggering 24 times in 11 games, a good number for the fourth in the country. For all of the explosive weapons in Louisville’s 2020 roster, including starting quarterback Malik Cunningham, who led the team with 15 turnovers, the offense was disappointing with anemia, largely due to this team-wide inability to hold onto the ball. If the team hopes to be successful in the coming campaign, ball safety should simply be the priority.
With the dynamic Cunningham at the helm, however, the Cardinals offense certainly has the potential to be exciting. The receiving corps took a hit with the loss of Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick, but players like Braden Smith and Georgia Southern transfer Shai Wertz – who played the quarterback at his previous stoppage – should be ready to take on enough charge.
More importantly, the fate of Louisville’s offense this season will depend on how much Cunningham grows as a quarterback, or not. The junior redshirt clearly has the playing ability that every team wants in their signal caller, but they definitely need to take a step forward to help their team reach their potential.
While the offense was disappointing for the Cardinals in 2020, the defense came as a welcome surprise. Anchored by an impressive linebacker corps and a stable secondary, Louisville’s less glamorous unit more than held up, and despite some heavy losses in the secondary and uncertainty in the trenches, the Cardinals are expected to field a still respectable defense. once this fall.
The Atlantic Division of the ACC may not be quite open – Clemson hasn’t given up on top spot since 2014 – but Louisville still has plenty of room to move up to number one in the division. Satterfield’s side have a list to win in front of them in 2021: If the defense holds up, the offense gets it right and Cunningham becomes the star he can so clearly be, Louisville’s fall outlook could be brighter than most expect.