Malik Cunningham & Evan Conley
The fourth game ball of the week was going to go to just Malik Cunningham, who as mentioned before was tasked with taking over for an injured Jawon Pass. That was until the Cards played their third quarterback in three games.
We knew heading into this one that there were questions starting to bubble to the surface from Card Nation about the ability of Jawon Pass to take the Louisville offense to the next level with his struggles in the passing game thus far.
Cunningham relieved Pass late in the fourth quarter against EKU last weekend and immediately led the Cards on an impressive drive which featured a deep pass and a long run. As if any other fuel for the quarterback dilemma was needed, fans were convinced that Cunningham’s legs may be able to give the offense an even more explosive dynamic as well as a serviceable passer.
Early on against WKU, that thought process was on point as Cunningham’s legs played a huge role in Louisville scoring points on four of their first five drives. Despite showing struggles of reading the defense and taking off before letting the play develop, Cunningham did a great of sustaining long drives and putting points on the board. Primarily doing so with his legs, but also throwing a couple of really nice passes in the process.
In the first half, Cunningham led four scoring drives, totaling 41 plays and 262 yards accounted for while holding possession for over 19 minutes. The drives looked like this:
- Drive no. 1: 3 plays, -3 yards (2:01)
- Drive no. 2: 10 plays, 58 yards (4:45)
- Drive no. 3: 10 plays, 83 yards (4:10)
- Drive no. 4: 8 plays, 75 yards (3:04)
- Drive no. 5: 10 plays, 49 yards (5:10)
The second half things got off to a slower start, but Louisville was still able to keep the ball moving enough to avoid Western Kentucky from getting offensive possessions and bringing the game closer.
Unfortunately for Cunningham, his day was cut a bit short by a big hit late in the third quarter that knocked his helmet off (automatically forcing him to the sidelines for one play), which meant we got our first Evan Conley sighting of the season.
This is where things got interesting.
With Louisville up big, Satterfield decided to keep Conley in the game and Cunningham on the bench.
He didn’t disappoint. After throwing an incompletion on his first pass, that led to Western getting off the field, Conley came back into the game and proceeded to throw a 66-yard strike to Tutu Atwell for the last score of the day for Louisville.
One play was all it took for Louisville fans to become familar with Conley. The former three-star recruit, who had zero power five offers outside of Louisville, showed serious poise entering the game for Cunningham. And even more so, showed off his cannon for an arm on the perfectly thrown deep ball to Atwell.
After the game, Cunningham, Atwell, and Scott Satterfield were all extremely complimentary to Conley, praising him for his patience and mental fortitude at that moment.
As of now, Conley is still listed as the team’s third-string quarterback. But as Presley Meyer wrote this morning, we have no idea what is bound to happen at QB moving forward.
For now, Conley and Cunningham and are rewarded for their strong play against Western in a much-needed win.