Louisville football opened fall camp on Sunday and the first thing on the coaching staff’s mind is solving their issue of not having enough depth.
Entering fall camp, Louisville football has the players to compete at the starting spots. Across the board, the Cardinals have some high-level talent at every position who can go up against the best of the best in the country.
However, a lot of the reason for the Cards’ major collapse in 2018 was the concerning lack of depth behind the starters.
Louisville began the 2018 season with an injury to their best returning player and defensive captain, Jon Greenard, on the opening drive, and ultimately lost the stud defensive end for the season. The depth behind Greenard was talented but just inexperienced and lacked the same leadership abilities.
That was a huge story throughout the 2018 season. It was apparent that Louisville had some really solid starters, but the same 22 guys can’t play an entire game. The second and third-string players have to be just as reliable.
It’s the same way at most positions for the Cards in 2019. First-year head coach Scott Satterfield acknowledged Sunday that the first team is significantly ahead of the rest of the team.
“We knew this before the season, and that’s that creating depth is going to be the most challenging thing,” Satterfield told the media after Louisville’s first practice.
“I think once we put our first units out there, they’ll be solid- they’ll be pretty good. Then, that next unit that has to come in and rotate, is there gonna be a drop-off? And that’s what we’ve got to develop, those second guys, those third guys, because, as you get into the season- games three and four- you’re gonna get some guys dinged up. So I think that’s gonna be the key for us, developing quality depth is going to be the thing we have to do.”
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So, what does Louisville do to fix it’s depth issues? Satterfield says that there are two keys: Getting players a lot of reps in practice and doing everything in their power to keep the team healthy.
“We’re doing a great job hydrating, eating properly, nutrition… sleeping, getting their rest,” Satterfield said of keeping the team healthy. “We look at the practice schedule, and how everything’s planned out. Everything we do for a reason, and (that is) to take care of these guys.”
As far as getting experience and reps, the coaching staff is doing something similar to the previous staff where they separate practices into two teams to give everyone a chance for more reps. In turn, that should give Louisville some more experienced depth, and give the coaching staff some extra looks and extra film on every player.
In a game against the Cards last season, Clemson played over 80 different players, including head coach Dabo Swinney’s son, Will, who scored a touchdown during their blowout win. Obviously, it’s highly unlikely that Louisville will play that many guys this season, but that is what they are aspiring to. Create a team and a culture where everyone has the ability to play, and when someone is dinged up, it’s a “next man up” mentality.
Though Louisville is a long way away from where they want to be, by the end of fall camp Satterfield made it clear that the one goal the Cards have in mind is to fix that drop-off. It didn’t help that leading into camp Satterfield announced that two of the top players from the class of 2019. Ja’Darien Boykin and Jamel Starks, wouldn’t be enrolling at Louisville while defensive tackle Dejmi Dumvervil-Jean would be taking a medical redshirt and cornerback/safety LaMarques Thomas was no longer with the program.
If the Cards can transition from tiers of talent to a team mentality, there could be significant progress shown come their first game on September 2nd against Notre Dame. It will be an ongoing battle throughout the season, but if there’s one thing we know about Satterfield and his new staff, they are going to give it their all to figure it out.