Louisville football will have to press the reset button after a shocking start.
Welcome to the rebuild, Louisville football fans.
After a miraculous year one turnaround under head coach Scott Satterfield, the Cardinals are suddenly looking pretty much exactly like we expected them to last year.
Poor offensive line play, undisciplined decision-making, poor clock management, defensive blunders; these are the things that defined the end of the second Bobby Petrino tenure. Yet, in 2019, the Cardinals looked disciplined and ready for whatever was thrown their way.
But in 2020, Louisville football seems to be regressing in so many areas. On the heels of a dynamic offensive season that featured school record-setters at wide receiver and running back, Louisville often looks dazed and confused. The offensive line looks lackluster and undisciplined. The veterans up front look inexperienced and mistake-prone.
Quarterback Malik Cunningham was seen as a Heisman sleeper. Yet, his pocket presence has disappeared, his timing with receivers is off, and when he finds teammates open downfield, he has more often than not completely overthrown them.
Louisville’s defense has been inconsistent. Although the overall trajectory is probably still a positive one, even players seen as talented veterans appear mistake-prone. The Cardinals will hold on first and second down only to allow a massive gash on third or fourth down.
The defensive line, aside from stand-out Jared Goldwire, looks outmanned and uninspired. Louisville’s linebackers, while the strength of the defense, are out of position on critical downs and rarely hit home in the pass rush. The secondary continues to be an eye sore and filled with players who look completely lost and out of position regardless of the competition.
There are still positive plays galore on both sides of the ball. Louisville hit Georgia Tech on Friday night with multiple chunk plays that resulted in 21 points on three consecutive drives. The defense made multiple big hits and adjusted to Tech’s offensive game plan. Special teams continue to improve as the season progresses.
All hope is not completely lost but, so far, this season has been worse than the worst-case scenario. Many picked the Cardinals to either finish in the top two in the conference or, at the very least, compete for one of the top spots. Louisville moved up as high as No. 18 in the national rankings in week two.
Now? Louisville hasn’t won a game in a month. And things don’t get much easier. The next three are on the road at No. 5 Notre Dame, then home against Florida State and No. 17 Virginia Tech. At the rate Louisville is going, two of those games could amount to pretty brutal blowouts.