Will Louisville football’s trend of unexpected surprises continue?

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 02: Scott Satterfield the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals watches the action against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on September 02, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 02: Scott Satterfield the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals watches the action against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on September 02, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Early in the 2019 season, Louisville football has already been propelled by a number of unexpected players. Could that trend continue against Western Kentucky?

From the start of Scott Satterfield’s tenure as Louisville football’s head coach, there have been tons of surprising moves, at least to us fans and some media, around every turn.

Whether it was recruiting at the early signing period with just two or three coaches and ending up with several commits. Bringing family (that isn’t on staff) into the football complex while continually talking about having a “family atmosphere” like culture. Holding “spring” practice in the middle of February. Rewarding scholarships in a very public way to walk-on’s who excelled. Allow a production crew into the program for a television show (which I still haven’t seen to the end yet). Be brutally honest (in a good way at media day).

The list goes on.

A new social media presence. Cameras in practice daily. Having a top 25 recruiting class in less than a season coming off of a 2-10 season. Give walk-ons and former walk-ons the chance to play, start, and even become captains. Flipping a kid with endless amounts of Power 5 offers from Tennessee just two games into the season.

The same can be said about the moves to the roster, the depth chart, and now ultimately the players on the field.

No one saw a scenario coming where the coaching staff recruited an offensive lineman to join the program as a tight end. No one saw a former walk-on tight end becoming the team’s go-to red-zone target. We thought it was Hassan Hall who would demand the lion share of carries. I could go on for quite some time.

Time and time again through 2019 Scott Satterfield and the new look Louisville football program have kept us on our toes, in a very good way almost 100 percent of the time. For once, in what feels like forever, a coach and his staff are giving the best players the chance to play on the field regardless of stars, and preconceived bias or notion.

So far it’s paying off. Guys who sat on the bench a year ago (or even more than that) or played positions or roles that weren’t suited for them are now thriving, developing into starters or much-needed reserves.

Don’t believe me? Look at the stats.

Javian Hawkins

30 carries, 245 yards (13th in the nation in total rushing yards, Louisville is 8th in the nation in overall rushing)

Marshon Ford

5 receptions, 69 yards, 13.8 yards per catch, 2 touchdowns

Russ Yeast

10 total tackles, 8 solo, 1 tackle for loss (It won’t show in the stat sheet but he’s been EVERYWHERE on the field so far this season)

Rodjay Burns

13 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and a QB hurry

Jawon Pass

330 yards passing, 4 touchdowns, 104 yards rushing 2 touchdowns

Also surprising has been Satterfield’s ability to not force things in any of the three phases of the game. On offense, he’s continued pounding the ball on the ground with Javian Hawkins, Hassan Hall, and Jawon Pass and allowing the passing game to open itself up for Pass.

Knowing your team doesn’t match up with a team like Notre Dame on paper, typically leads to coaches getting out of their games – something Satterfield hasn’t shown any flashes of. Playing against a team like EKU often leads to trying to give your team an infinite amount of confidence by doing something that could be uncharacteristic in an attempt to get better in the long run.

Again, not something Satterfield has done.

Through two games we haven’t seen the new coach try and force the passing game in an attempt to jump-start the play of Jawon Pass. While Pass hasn’t been awful or anywhere close, we have seen a tendency to struggle in the medium and long throws, which has caused some concern.

Knowing that Pass struggled with confidence issues last season as well as having a strong run game, Satterfield has allowed for Pass to use the shorter to intermediate routes to sustain long drives and put points on the board, while expressing his desire to continue improving down the field.

However, even with that being said we could be in for another surprise this weekend, maybe more than one.

With some of the struggles we’ve seen in the passing game out of Jawon Pass and the quick start for Malik Cunningham in the second to last drive of the Eastern Kentucky game that included a 24-yard throw to Justin Marshall and a 38-yard keeper to the house.

If Satterfield were to turn to Cunningham, it wouldn’t spell the end of the line for Jawon Pass. In fact, it likely means that the talk from the staff (particularly Satt) about playing two quarterbacks is very real and there’s the belief that both guys can thrive playing together.

Earlier this week Presley Meyer wrote about the quarterback conundrum, and why the benefits of playing two quarterbacks outweigh the negatives. He wrote:

"Teams would have to prepare for two different quarterbacks, but unlike a predictable 2018 season where both players led sputtering offenses, teams would have to prepare for two successful lineups.It’s been done before, and it could be done again in 2019. Pass and Cunningham are close friends and competitors. It’s clear that they feed off of each other, and the end goal is to bring Louisville football back to its winning ways.It’s a potential solution for the Louisville football coaching staff, and maybe it’s one that could propel the Cards to a season that no one expected."

Louisville has one more game against a non-power five opponent this season and it comes Saturday against Western Kentucky in a must-win game. 

All season long we’ve seen surprises from the coaching staff and the football program and there’s a real possibility that-that will continue into this weekend. If there’s any scenario of both quarterback’s playing during ACC play, especially if the Cards in a spot to compete for a bowl game, Saturday will be the launching off point.

Next. 5 players to watch against Western Kentucky. dark

Against a defense that has been good but great, especially defending the pass, if you are going to try and figure it out and get some reps under your belt and how things will operate, this weekend would be the game.