After a long and arduous fall camp for Louisville Football, it is officially game week. With the football season officially here, UofL released the depth chart for the season opener against Ole Miss.
Here are some takeaways from the depth chart:
- QB is no surprise as Malik Cunningham and Evan Conley are 1 and 2. JUCO QB Brock Domann had some wondering if he could wrest control of the backup job from Conley, but that didn’t happen.
- Trevion Cooley has made a mark and is now the number 3 running back behind Hassan Hall and starter Jalen Mitchell. Mitchell clearly solidified himself as the heir apparent to former Louisville running back Javian Hawkins.
(Click more for entire breakdown)
- The offensive line starters are exactly who everyone predicted. Some of the backups are names that been bandied about from coaches and fans such as true freshman Michael Gonzalez, Luke Kandra, and Virginia Tech transfer Bryan Hudson. One intriguing name that is listed as the backup right tackle is Desmond Daniels. He originally was listed as a tight end as a recruit, but he has now moved to the offensive line and is already on the two-deep.
- What is interesting about the wide receiver spots is that only one appears to be locked down. Jordan Watkins is listed as a definitive starter. His backup is true freshman Ahmari Huggins-Bruce, who I listed as one of my 5 impact true freshmen. The other spots are listed as ORs, with Braden Smith or Josh Johnson and Justin Marshall or arguably the biggest breakout wide receiver of the camp in Tyler Harrell. I’d expect Marshall and Smith to be on the field for the first offensive snap of 2021, but Harrell’s speed and Johnson’s experience could help them overtake Marshall and Smith. Also, EKU transfer Jaelin Carter is in the mix at two spots while Shai Werts is listed behind Johnson and Smith.
- At tight end, Dez Melton has earned the starting nod over Francis Sherman who had some nice catches and blocks in limited time last season. Melton was a 3 Star recruit out of high school and has the size and skill to be a productive blocker and pass catcher.
- At the H-Back spot, Louisville native Marshon Ford has the starting spot on lockdown while another Louisville native, Isaac Martin backs him up. From what Coach Satterfield has said in the preseason, Marshon may line up at wide receiver from time to time and he wants him to be on the field in some capacity at all times.
- On the defensive line, redshirt freshman Ramon Puryear is a starter at one defensive end spot. He just earned a scholarship during camp. Yaya Diaby will line up on the other side while nose tackle is a spot that appears to be up for grabs still. That is because the starter is listed as Malik Clark or Dezmond Tell. Transfer Jacques Turner is behind them at the tackle spot. Freshman Ashton Gillotte is the immediate backup to Yaya Diaby. After his incredible off season and camp, this was expected. Tabarius Peterson will be backing Puryear up.
- Linebackers have some stalwarts and some surprises. CJ Avery is a stalwart who is as solid and dependable as they come. Monty Montgomery, who lined up outside before is moving inside and will start next to Avery, replacing Dorian Etheridge. One outside linebacker spot appears to be up for grabs between Yasir Abdullah and Nick Okeke. I hesitate to make a prediction about which will be on the field for the first defensive snap against Ole Miss as I did with some of the receivers because I think this one is really too close to call. At the Card position, Jack Fagot has solidified himself as the starter, moving down from his former safety spot. Marvin Dallas, who some believed may emerge from camp as the starter, will back him up. KJ Cloyd is backing up Avery while two players, Dorian Jones and true freshman Jaylin Alderman, will back up Montgomery.
- The defensive backfield has really no surprises. Your safeties are the two most everyone pegged as starters at the start of camp in Qwynnterrio Cole and Kenderick Duncan. True freshman sensation Ben Perry is actually backing up both safety spots. He’s the immediate backup at strong safety to Cole and the third in line at the free safety. Duncan’s immediate backup is Louisville native Josh Minkins, who has recovered nicely from injury and has impressed at the end of camp. The starting corners are stalwarts Kei’Trel Clark and Chandler Jones. JUCO Trey Franklin is backing up Jones while freshman Greedy Vance is backing up Clark. The talent behind the starters at all these positions is excellent, but arguably inexperienced.
- For special teams, there aren’t many surprises either. The Place kicker is obviously James Turner. However, Brock Travelstead will handle kickoff duties. Mark Vassett, the Australian punter will be put in charge of trying to help the defense by changing field position. Hassan Hall and Jordan Watkins will handle kickoff returns while Braden Smith will assume punt return duties. Josh Johnson will back him up. It’ll be interesting to see if Smith can take over for Rodjay Burns, who proved to be a very good punt returner for 2019 and 2020 seasons. The long snapper is the ever steady Mitch Hall.
Some surprises and some certainties. There is an awful lot of young talent that will be stepping in to big roles this season. True freshmen, redshirt freshmen, and Covid year freshmen are backing up quite a few spots. With the fact that Coach Satterfield likes to rotate at a lot of positions, chances are we will see a lot of backups play significantly. Now we count down to Monday night at 8 pm. Go Cards!