It’s been quite crazy at the quarterback position this season. You never know who will be taking snaps under center at any given moment. There are basically three quarterbacks on the roster and all three have played and all three have completed at least 24 passes.
The 4th option at quarterback is wide receiver, Tutu Atwell. Tutu has attempted 2 passes this season but failed to complete either attempt. Don’t be shocked that he is an option at quarterback. As good as he is at wide receiver don’t forget he was a dual-threat quarterback from Miami, FL. at Northwestern High School where he passed for over 4,000 yards in his career and ran for over 1,500 yards.
With the recent news that Jawon Pass will have surgery on his right foot and will be out the remainder of the season, the Cards are basically down to a two man show at quarterback. This is not how Coach Satterfield drew it up. In one of his first press conferences he addressed the roster and the need for more quarterbacks. He said he likes to have five on the roster. He would have had five is not for the transfers of Jordan Travis (FSU) and Sean McCormack (WKU).
This new staff looked hard at the grad transfer market and JUCO prior to the season but held firm with the guys on the roster. It’s a telling sign about what this staff thinks about these three guys to not just try and grab anybody they can. It seemed they were only interested in finding a guy that would make an immediate impact.
Jawon won the job in fall camp and by all accounts has grown as a leader and a player. I had several players tell me he was much more vocal and they had full confidence in him. Coach Satterfield spent much of his first eight months here building up Jawon’s confidence that had been shredded by the previous staff.
Jawon’s spot as starter was solidified when Malik Cunningham hurt his knee in a scrimmage just a few weeks before the season.
It seemed Jawon was the guy and after watching his play against Notre Dame and most everyone was happy or content. Was he perfect? NO, but he did look more comfortable and decisive. His stats were not great but he did look improved considering they played the #9 team in the nation and that was the game where he injured his toe.
Pass went on to start the second game of the season against EKU. He played really well (12-19 passing and 4 TD’s). Jawon would be replaced by Cunnigham, who returned from injury, because the game was out of reach at that point. Well, at least that’s the way it seemed. Nobody really knew how bad Jawon’s toe was hurting.
Little did we know that would be the last time Jawon Pass suited up for this season.
Malik Cunningham started the third game against WKU in Nashville for the injured Pass. Most fans had full confidence in Malik assuming his knee was 100% healthy. It appeared as though it was, judging from his performance in the previous game.
We all know Malik has amazing athletic ability and can run like the wind. In fact, back in 2016 after Malik committed, I was at a preseason practice and a member of the previous staff said to me that “once you see this Cunningham kid, you’re gonna forget all about Lamar Jackson.” Well, just a few short months later, Lamar won the Heisman trophy, so I was super excited to see what Malik could do.
Turns out, that staff member may have exaggerated a bit. Malik can run but what we saw from his passing in his freshman season left a lot to be desired. Definitely not anywhere in the neighborhood of Lamar Jackson.
Regardless, Malik is a special talent and a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
He played well against WKU until he left the game after a big hit. Most feared he reaggravated his knee injury but he was on the sideline walking around without his helmet so many of us assumed concussion protocol. Coach Satterfield explained after the game that he was fine and could have returned if needed but used it as a chance to get this third string quarterback, Evan Conley, some game experience.
Right now we are fully understanding how valuable that experience is going to be moving forward.
Malik played the whole game in Tallahassee against Florida State and started the game against Boston College but left the game with a lower leg injury. He rotated in and out but did not take a snap on the game winning drive.
Prior to the Boston College game, we received a clarification on Malik’s name change.”Micale is my first name but people can’t pronounce it so I go by my middle name, which is Malik. Like every time I go to class, they call me, Michele or Michael so I was like y’all just call me Malik. And I thought about it, and I talked to a reporter yesterday and she asked me about it and I was like if y’all can pronounce it, I’m fine with it. That’s my name,” he said.
Micale started the game in Winston-Salem, N.C against Wake Forest but again would leave due to injury. After Micale left in the second quarter, Conley took over and finished 12 of 18 for 196 yards with 2 passing and 1 rushing touchdown.
So where does Louisville go from here?
Before it was announced that Jawon Pass would be out the rest of the season, it was rumored that he would be the starter against Clemson.
Now the Cards are 4-2 with 6 games remaining. The are down to 2 quarterbacks on the roster with the 3rd option being a valuable receiver.
But the biggest question is the health of Micale Cunningham.
If he is healthy, he is your starter. No offense to the play of Evan Conley but he doesn’t run like Micale so defenses will not respect the RPO plays as much. And do you really think coach Satterfield wants to have the true freshman’s first start to be against the #2 team in the nation? It’s not the ideal situation but it might be the only option.
I respect what Conley has done but let’s stop with the Heisman talk or the “he is future” talk. He is a fine player and I am thankful he stepped up when called upon but he will most likely be third or fourth string next season. If Jawon decides to return and is fully healthy, he will most likely start the season as the starter. I know many of you will debate that but that’s why you are not the coach. This staff has full faith in him and his ability. Chubba Purdy will eventually be the starter. Micale will probably be third string with Evan and Tee Webb right behind him.
As for Jawon – His future as a Cardinal is in question. I’m sure he will get a medical redshirt but now that his brother is graduating and with Chubba potentially challenging him for his starting job, does he stay and fight for his spot or does he go elsewhere and enjoy his last season as a college athlete? Somewhere else with a fresh start and no expectations seems like the move but does he love Louisville and his teammates so much that he stays? Who knows but I support the kid no matter what decision he makes. He needs to do what is best for him.
As Always, GO CARDS!