Louisville Cardinals: Big Red Louie offseason mailbag Vol. 1

Answering all your Louisville Cardinals’ questions.

With no sports, it would make sense that not much information would lead to less speculation for the future, but instead, the opposite has happened. An abrupt end to the Louisville basketball season along with the status of the upcoming Louisville football season still being worked out, have only fueled speculation. I intend to put out some of the inquisitive fire by answering some questions that were sent to me recently pertaining to all things Louisville Cardinals.

There has been a lot going on across both sports, despite no “live” action. Scott Satterfield and the football staff have done an incredible job preparing their team for the upcoming season where expectations are sky-high, while also setting the recruiting trail ablaze.

The Cards hold 13 commits, and should have plenty more in the books by the end of July, and could legitimately end up with the best recruiting class in program history when it’s all said and done.

For basketball, Chris Mack and his staff have also been doing a great job recruiting. As Corey Evans told the guys on the Big Red Louie Podcast, Mack and his staff have been balls to the wall on the recruiting trail, even landing a commitment from Bobby Pettiford Jr., without ever visiting campus, even unofficially.

Louisville holds a top 10 recruiting class at this point in time with commitments from Pettiford Jr and Bryce Hopkins and things are only looking up from here, even with the NCAA’s impending punishment hanging over the program’s head.

So with all of that being the case, I thought now was the perfect time to start Big Red Louie’s first-ever mailbag.

A: When I think about breakout players, two come to mind. The first is Samuell Williamson; the former McDonalds All-American was apart of the rotation last year as a freshman but had to play behind the likes of Jordan Nwora and Dwayne Sutton. He will be called upon to fill a larger role this season, and I believe he delivers. The next is Jae’lyn Withers; although he redshirted last year as a freshman, many within the program have raved about his practice performances along with his length and athleticism. The wing and power forward positions are open for the taking, and Withers will have a prime opportunity to leave his mark.

Q: Could David Johnson be a lottery pick in 2021?

The 2021 NBA draft class is going to be one of the deepest fields in recent history. There is a ton of young talent along with returning college standouts, so the class will be loaded. With that being said, Johnson is on the radar and if he improves his individual defense and perimeter shooting, I could see him being a lottery pick. He is a big guard with high basketball IQ, an extreme feel for the game, and good vision. Matt Babcock joined the Big Red Louie Podcast a few weeks back and talked specifically about Johnson’s potential, you can check that out here! 

Q: What are your expectations for D’Andre Davis and JJ Traynor for next season?

I believe that D’Andre Davis will be a contributor for next year’s squad, but I’m not sure that it will be in a substantial role. He is a crafty scorer that plays extremely hard, which fits Coach Chris Mack’s system. In regards to four-star freshman JJ Traynor, I believe he is a possible redshirt candidate for next season. He has extreme potential coupled with elite athleticism and nice length. However, his skill set on the offense of end is raw, and taking a year to perfect his craft and add some muscle would do him wonders.

Q: What are some realistic expectations and your record predictions for this year’s team?

A: Coming off of an eight-win season, there isn’t much room to improve in the win-loss column, but make no mistake, achieving the same record as last year does not mean that the team did not improve. I look for the nuclear offense to be extremely effective and one of the best in the country, while the defense improves vastly and is able to limit the big-yardage plays. In terms of record, I predict the Cardinals to go 9-3 with losses to Clemson, Notre Dame, and one of Kentucky/Virginia Tech/Florida State.

Q: Is Micale Cunningham a top quarterback in the country?

A: I would say that he is a top-10 signal-caller nationally at this time. He improved a ton over the course of the 2019 season, completing over 62 percent of his passes and having a 22 to 5 touchdown/interception ratio. To rise up the list, he will need to improve his decision-making downfield and learn how to avoid taking big hits, while reading defenses and reacting quicker.

A: To be honest, Shedeur Sanders is one of the most highly-coveted quarterbacks in the 2021 class and there are a ton of schools after him. There are not any glaring advantages that pertain to Louisville. However, the Cardinals can pitch early playing time once Cunningham leaves, in an infectious culture with state-of-the-art facilities and of course being the home of former Lamar Jackson.

A: Offensive lineman Zen Michalski gets my vote. He has not even been playing in the trenches for long, but his frame is starting to fill out nicely. I love his speed and burst, along with his agile footwork. His strength on film is remarkable, and with him putting on more muscle, could be another guy that Dwayne Ledford sends to the NFL.

Related: Analyzing Zen Michalski’s commitment to the Cardinals

A: With Louisville’s high-octane offense, there are not many undervalued players. With that being said, I believe that Hassan Hall gets overlooked a bit due to Javian Hawkins having a breakout year. Hall is a threat on special teams while being a strong and smart change-of-pace running back and it’s that reason exactly why he was named All-ACC Second Team last season.

Next: 2021 Louisville recruiting big board 2.0

Having a guy like him on the field when Hawkins is on the sidelines, keeps the offense potent and allows the unit to continue to make big-time plays.

 

 

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