There has been a 180 degree turn in momentum for Scott Satterfield and his University of Louisville football team heading to Winston-Salem NC this weekend. As they prepare to take on the 24th ranked Demon Deacons of Wake Forest this team and program could not be in much more of a different place as they are right now in terms of perception and anticipation. With a less than spectacular showing in the first half of the first game vs Ole Miss the noise and negativity was deafening surrounding the Cardinal program but now it is like a distant memory.
While there is plenty of credit to go around for what has sparked the uptick in play the first name that much be mentioned is Satterfield himself. My hope for him after his inauspicious beginning to the season was that he would show the same willingness to adjust his approach as he did last season after a difficult start to the year in 2020. The turnaround in 2020 with the change in philosophy came too late coupled with an unfortunate number of turnovers and mistakes led to the very disappointing 4-7 record. If Satterfield could more quickly recognized this team’s deficiencies earlier and make the necessary adjustments I felt like there was a great opportunity for a positive shift and we are seeing that in real time. Kudos coach you are on the right path.
The other guys that gets a ton of credit is starting quarterback Malik Cunningham who I was very critical of both in the first game of the season as well than a less than stellar showing vs EKU in week two. Cunningham through the first couple of game looked as if he had not progressed at all over the off season. He was still string down receivers, missing open targets down the field, as well as having happy feet in the pocket. I don’t know if it was nerves or PTSD or allowing the moment and devastation of the Ole Miss beatdown in week one but Malik was off his game. Well he has looked like a completely different player over the last 2 games and because of it he is now maybe the most versatile and dangerous dual threat QB in all of college football. With at least 2 rushing TDs over each of his first 4 games as well as showing poise in the pocket and throwing darts all over the field Cunningham is now playing like an All-ACC caliber player.
The last and in my opinion the most exciting group I want to mention is the UofL defensive line and more specifically the pass rush trio of Yasir Abdullah, Yaya Diaby, and super frosh Ashton Gillotte. These guys came into the season with a lot of hype and very little production through the first couple of games of the year, but over the last 2 games have really cranked up the intensity and are now looking like one of the most unblockable units in the ACC. The ability of the UofL defensive line to get home and pressure the QB with a 3 or 4 man rush is critical if the Cards want a chance to be one of the best teams in the conference. When you can hurry a quarterback and still commit 7 to 8 guys to coverage it makes it very difficult to sustain drives offensively. That could be the key to a much more successful 2021 football season than anyone could have anticipated.
So here we go the Saturday 12:30 afternoon showdown on Cards vs the #24 Deacons on RSN! (Yes, I know that is terrible! LOL) Satterfield knows Wake HC Dave Clausen very well throughout their coaching careers and has been maybe as successful vs him as any since taking over as UofL head coach. Satterfield is 2-0 vs Clause head to head knocking off the then #19 Deacons 62-59 in 2019 as well as a 45-21 victory to end on a high note for the disappointing 2020 season. I don’t think that is a fluke and clearly there is something about the Wake defensive scheme that Satterfield has found to help his teams to a 53.5 points per game output over the last 2 years. Last year the defense with a big part of the effort with the team’s ability to get off the field on 3rd down as the Deacons were only 7-18 (38%) on 3rd down. If the Cardinals can come close to the similar results defensively and continue to get consistent play from Cunningham I believe UofL will come home a winner for the 4th game in a row. If that happens 5 weeks in UofL would be in 1st place in the ACC Atlantic Division and my oh my what a turn of events and expectations that would be.
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Raashaan Myers is the long time Co-Host of the Main Event Sports Show and Anchor for the PGN News Network in Louisville. Member of the US Basketball Writers Association and former recruiting columnist for Insidetheville.com. Lover of all things UofL and basketball! Looking to bring truth to the masses. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Raashaan