Win number one for Scott Satterfield turned out to be a rather big one for him, and the team. Louisville (1-1) shutout EKU (1-1) in a 42-0 victory, securing the first shutout win for the Cardinals since September 2013.
— Louisville Football (@UofLFootball) September 9, 2019
Like last week, our grades will be based on the pre-game article written by me. But this time, we’ll add some extra side notes to make mention of things that stood out.
Louisville Front Seven v. EKU Running Game: A-
In the shutout win, the first thing that stood out was the aggressiveness of the front seven all night long. The Cardinals held the Colonels to 130 rushing yards and 3.02 yards per carry, forcing EKU to ultimately beat them through the air.
And in those moments where EKU had to throw the ball, Louisville’s defense was even more excellent. The Colonels completed 9-of-16 passes for 42 yards as a team, and was sacked five times in the game. EKU only got as far as the Louisville 25-yard line, and only reached Louisville territory three times the entire game.
Will Louisville Force an Interception or Two?: B-
Louisville didn’t force an interception (or a turnover for that matter), but their front seven stifled EKU’s passing game entirely. The Colonels were held to 42 yards passing, and Louisville’s aggressive front seven got five sacks in the game. Two games in, Louisville has eight sacks, three away from last year’s total.
Because Louisville was so effective in stopping the run, they were able to pin their ears and pursue the quarterback on passing downs. Simply put, Louisville’s defensive improvement from last year is astronomical.
Can Jawon Pass Get in a Rhythm as a Passer?: B-
Jawon Pass had some issues with connecting on passes in the first half, but he rebounded in the second once the running game started to get into a rhythm. Pass went 6-of-13 for 101 yards with two touchdowns in the first half, but went a perfect 6-for-6 in the second half for 95 yards and two touchdowns. With Javian Hawkins bursting for big runs in the second half, Louisville’s offense was able to parlay that into big time throws downfield. Pass had a couple of nice completions to Justin Marshall and Keion Wakefield that were key parts in Louisville’s scoring drives.
What helped, also, was that Louisville’s offensive line didn’t allow a sack all night. Zero sacks allowed against a solid EKU front seven led by Aaron Patrick is an impressive effort, and that is a good foundation for re-establishing a passing game that clearly has areas to improve on.
Other quick notes:
For two straight games, Louisville got some stellar production from tight end Marshon Ford. Ford scored the first two touchdowns of his career against Eastern Kentucky, and had a big catch against Notre Dame last Monday. While Jordan Davis is set to return next Saturday against Western Kentucky, Ford’s performance might be able to earn him a chance to play in multiple tight end sets.
Javian Hawkins rushed for 123 yards on 11 carries, becoming the first Louisville freshman running back since 2008 to reach the century mark in back-to-back games.
Also of note, Louisville rushed for 322 yards on 38 carries, averaging 8.5 yards per carry. In the last five games, Louisville has averaged 250.8 rushing yards per game, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. The raw totals during that stretch are 1,254 rushing yards on 192 carries.
Tutu Atwell is a threat on every play he gets the ball. His 50-yard touchdown opened Louisville’s scoring in the first quarter, and his 33-yard punt return helped set up the Cards for their second touchdown drive.
Jawon Pass’s performance tonight is a good reminder that most of the time, it’s okay to let your quarterback play it out. 6-of-13 wasn’t ideal for any fan, especially after the low passing totals last week. But in the second half, he got comfortable once the running game led the way for him, and made the throws when necessary. He’ll need to display more consistency throughout the game, as well as getting off to better starts; but he made strides tonight.
Speaking of quarterbacks, Malik Cunningham was solid in the two drives he played. He simply outran everybody on EKU’s defense on his touchdown run, and his big run on the final drive of the game was solid. I’m not sure how Satterfield incorporates him into the gameplan going forward, but Louisville could use his speed at times.
With Louisville getting a huge win against EKU, the Cards now enter an early, but crucial, stretch of the season. Wins against a WKU team that lost to FCS Central Arkansas, as well as a Florida State team that nearly lost to Louisiana-Monroe, would put Louisville at 3-1, and in prime position for a potential bowl bid.
The first of many.
— Louisville Football (@UofLFootball) September 8, 2019