Stats: 3.5 quarters played, 9/14 (64%), 143 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
119 yards rushing (20 attempts), 1 rushing TD
After Pass left something to be desired in the early going this season, a segment of the Louisville fanbase was clamoring for Malik Cunningham to see more playing time.
Cunningham entered for the first time late in the third quarter against Eastern Kentucky after the game was out of reach and his athleticism and skill immediately impressed, leading to a Cardinals scoring drive.
It was a small sample size, but Cunningham ran four times for 73 yards and a score and was 1/1 through the air.
In just over two quarters of work against Western Kentucky, Cunningham played about as expected against a defense that seemed prepared for his rushing attack.
Cunningham impressed with a deep connection over the top to Tutu Atwell in the second quarter, and he made some great plays, but also seemed out of sorts at times.
Strengths: Cunningham’s strengths are certainly his speed on the ground and his accuracy through the air.
Satterfield has maintained that the coaching staff wants to find ways to get Cunningham on the field regardless of position because of how electric his running style is. His work on the ground has featured multiple runs over 30 yards.
Cunningham is also mobile in the passing game and seems to maintain great accuracy throwing on the run. He does a great job of not only finding the open man but putting the ball where it needs to be to let a receiver extend the play.
Weaknesses: Though he is accurate, Cunningham is a bit hesitant in the passing game. It was clear in his first full game of action as a starter under the new coaching staff that Cunningham was not always comfortable in the pocket.
“One of the things is, if it’s not there throwing it away,” Satterfield said of Cunningham’s decision-making following the WKU victory.
Cunningham struggled to go through his progressions and if his first option wasn’t there, he would try to scramble and make something happen with his feet.
Western Kentucky recorded three sacks in four QB hurries while Cunningham was in the game, and that was mostly on him and not the offensive line.