Louisville football: Grading the Cardinals’ performance against Syracuse

Kei-Trel Clark #13 and Chandler Jones #2 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Kei-Trel Clark #13 and Chandler Jones #2 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Louisville football
Jordan Watkins #80 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

This position was littered with all kinds of new faces this week. In an unexpected turn of events, Dez Fitzpatrick did not play at all in the first quarter for the Cardinals. He did enter the game after the first quarter was over and played the remainder of the game until garbage time.

Tutu Atwell was clearly still limited with his back injury. His one catch of the game went for a touchdown. But his snaps were extremely limited compared to a normal game for him.

Speaking of, Scott Satterfield spoke very highly of Atwell in his postgame presser.

Atwell is a Louisville football legend. There is no doubt about that. He will likely be drafted into the NFL in April. He represents the program very well and he is very obviously loved by the team and fans alike. It’s nice to see him sticking out this season despite a lackluster record and some injury trouble.

With Fitzpatrick’s inexplicable absence through a quarter and Tutu’s injury, somebody needed to step up.

In the first quarter, a No. 0 trotted out onto the field for the Cardinals in a three-receiver set. But there is no No. 0 listed on the Louisville football roster. After much drama, it was discovered that the mysterious player on offense was, in fact, redshirt junior Josh Johnson.

Johnson has really not played any snaps for the Cardinals in 2020. He was known in high school for being extremely good with the ball in his hands. Scott Satterfield rolled with him for a lot of snaps in this one. Wide receiver Justin Marshall did not receive any time on the field until the fourth quarter.

It was a grouping of Johnson, Jordan Watkins, and Braden Smith that stole the show in the Cardinals’ wide receiver room. Six different wide receivers caught a pass. But only three of the 18 receptions combined were made by Atwell and Fitzpatrick.

Smith led the way with seven receptions for 65 yards in this one.

Marshon Ford was not available for this game so true freshman Duane Martin got a lot of run at the H-back position that Ford regularly mans. Martin did a pretty darn good job too.

He looked like an above average athlete for a tight end and showed impressive body control on a second half grab. He finished the game with two receptions for 27 yards. Those were the only two receptions by the tight end group in the game.

Isaac Martin and Ean Pfeifer were doing their thing as regular blockers in this game. Martin had one noticeably blown block that resulted in a tackle-for-loss. However, they were good in their snaps as blockers as a whole.

Overall, this was a position group that was playing a bunch of new faces. The receiver group produced big-time against a Syracuse defense that still mans some talented players despite a couple of opt outs. The staff and fans should feel very encouraged about the ability of these young and new players picking up the slack with Fitzpatrick, Atwell, and Ford limited in their time.

Overall Grade: A