Lock – Javian Hawkins has third 100-yard rushing game in a row but Malik Cunningham has the big play
You could make the argument that through two games, there hasn’t been a bigger surprise for Louisville football than the production they’ve gotten out of Javian Hawkins.
While we knew the run game was going to be a priority for Louisville and new coach Scott Satterfield, I don’t think anyone saw them getting out to the start they’ve had through the first two games.
So far in 2019, Louisville has gained an average of 285.5 yards per game on the ground (9th in the country) and has done so mostly behind the production of Javian Hawkins.
Many saw sophomore being the lead back for the Scott Satterfield era headed into 2019, but in a late plot twist, it was Hawkins who emerged as the go-to back for the Cards and so far he hasn’t disappointed.
Hawkins has received 30 total carries through the first two weeks racking up a combined 245 yards (8.2 ypc) and is currently the nation’s 13th leading rusher.
The first-year starter has put together back-to-back 100-yard games, making him one of just eight rushers to do since 1951 according to Kelly Dickey, joining several elite names. He also became the third UofL freshman to record back-to-back 100 yard games since 2003, joining Victor Anderson in 2008 and Michael Bush back in 2003.
Against Western, a team that ranks in the back half of teams across the country in total run defense, Hawkins along with Hall, should be in store for another big game. However, I believe it’ll be Malik Cunningham who steals the show.
After returning from a knee injury that kept him out of almost all of fall camp, the redshirt sophomore quarterback returned on Saturday, picking up right where he left off last season against Kentucky.
On his first drive of the season, Cunningham took just one run to show what kind of weapon he can be for Satterfield’s offense. He went 33 yards, looking like the playmaker we saw last year.
What will be different against WKU will be opportunity. Satterfield hasn’t shied away about the possibility of playing both quarterbacks this season, and against the Topps, I really think we’ll see a lot more of Cunningham.
Cunningham will need reps throwing the football more than anything, but I expect at least one big run and a few others that leave us talking about him more and more leading up to Florida State.
Bold prediction: Louisville keeps Western Kentucky under 14 points
It’s probably a bit too early to tell just how good or bad of a team Western Kentucky is at this point in the season, but one thing is for sure – the offense is in for a fight against Louisville’s defense.
Without question, Tyson Helton and the Hilltoppers will see the best defense that they’ve faced all season long on Saturday in Louisville going head-to-head with a team coming off of a shutout of EKU.
I expect for guys like Rodjay Burns, CJ Avery, Chandler Jones, and G.G. Robinson to continue to provide big plays and the firepower Louisville needs to hold Western Kentucky early and from there some of the other budding names on the defense like Monty Montgomery, TJ Holl, Derek Dorsey, Trenell Troutman, and Ty Tyler to be able to keep the Hilltoppers out of the end zone late.
Western has shown the ability to move the football and score so far but has also dealt with turnovers and mental mistakes (primarily flags). You take that and pair it with the momentum that Louisville has and I think we see another big performance from Brown/Dennison’s group.
Containing receiver Lucky Jackson, who already has over 100 yards receiving through two games, along with running back Gaej Walker will be tricky, but this defense is up for the challenge.