The University of Louisville held an open practice yesterday as part of the ACC’s college football road trip.
1) The offensive line is really, really good. Led by preseason ACC All-American Caleb Chandler, the offensive line returns a great deal of talent mixed with experience. During practice, the line routinely opened gargantuan size holes for the running backs and maintained a clean pocket for Malik to throw from. UofL definitely has a few potential pros on this offensive line. Now if this line improves ever so slightly, you can certainly expect Louisville to improve on their great numbers from last year.
2) The defensive unit will be fun to watch. They looked fast and furious, if not very aggressive during practice. With improved depth and talent, Louisville looks a lot more versatile than ever before under Coach Satterfield. They were disguising coverages and creating a sense of doubt in the quarterbacks’ mind. You can tell that Co-Defensive Coordinator/Secondary Coach Wesley McGriff has already put his stamp on this secondary.
3) “Malik Cunningham to Braden Smith!” You better get used to hearing it. Before Smith’s injury, it seemed like Malik found him on every crucial 3rd down. With the departure of Harrell, Watkins, and Marshall, and the addition of a lot of talented newcomers, it’s definitely going to take some time for Malik to build some much needed chemistry. In the meantime, Smith might be Malik’s go-to receiver while he gets familiar with his newer receivers.
4) The running back group will definitely be better than advertised. Yes, Jalen Mitchell is the leading rusher of the group, but Jawhar Jordan (Syracuse transfer) looks completely healthy, Trevion Cooley looks so much more comfortable this fall, and newcomer Tiyon Evans is a special player. Not since the 2004 season when Michael Bush, Eric Shelton, Lionel Gates, and Kolby Smith walked through those doors have the Cards had such a loaded backfield with pro potential.
5) This year’s team is deep and talented. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen a Louisville football team with this much depth. We all know the game is won and lost in the trenches. And the biggest display of depth on this team is in the trenches. Both offensive and defensive lines bring back a ton of talent. The defensive side added an impactful transfer in Jermayne Lole.
1) You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, “All good things must come to an end.” Hard to believe, but after this season there will be a new starting QB for Louisville. Most fans probably want or expect incoming true freshman Pierce Clarkson to assume that responsibility. That might be true, but the current true freshman QB Khalib Johnson will have a lot to say about that. Although it was only one practice, Johnson already looks impressive and was on target most of the day. A full year in the system and learning from Malik should benefit Johnson and help him make the leap to QB1 next season.
2) Chris Bell and Chance Morrow will be hard to keep off the field, especially in the red zone. At 6’2 Bell is extremely shifty and adept at getting open. He also made a beautiful one- handed catch in the corner of the end zone over a defender. At 6’6, Morrow will naturally be an offensive weapon in the red zone.
3) Momo Sanogo is obviously the vocal leader of the defense. All spring and summer we’ve heard the coaches rave about the leadership qualities of Sanogo. At open practice, Sanogo was heard before he was seen on the field. His voice was one of the loudest and was constantly quaterbacking the defense. Now why is this surprising? Momo has only been on the team for 6 months.
4) Popeye is really, really good. Very rarely do you see a football specimen like Popeye. He started off training camp a little slow, as to be expected for a freshman, but has really picked it up as late. Popeye is extremely quick off the ball and will cause havoc on opposing ball carriers. This freshman is not only eager to learn, but is a quick learner. No way he doesn’t see his share of opportunities to rush the passer this year.
5) The overall team speed is very impressive at every level. Coach Satterfield and staff have done a great job recruiting speed over the years and it is starting to show up on the practice field. Also, give a lot of credit to new head strength and conditioning coach Ben Sowders as you can tell he really worked is ass off this summer in getting these young men ready for the season. Every position group looks faster than they were last year.
Players To Watch:
Bryan Hudson, R-jr, OL, #61
Hudson played all over the line last year due to necessity. This year Hudson is taking over as the full-time center for the Cards.
Trevor Reid, Sr, OL, #70
Reid is a massive human being who came to Louisville from Georgia Military College. Last year, Reid started all 13 games for the Cards and looked stronger and quicker in 1v1 pass pro.
Tyler Hudson, Jr, WR, #0
Tyler Hudson, a.k.a T-Huddy, is good. I mean he is really good. Routinely wins 1v1 match ups and has the hands to be a reliable outlet for any quarterback.
Quincy Riley, Jr, CB, #3
Riley has the potential to be a huge playmaker for the Cards and, lining up opposite Kei’Trel Clark, he’ll get more than his fair share of opportunities. If Riley can cause opposing QBs from consistently testing him, look for the Cards sack numbers to rise from last season.
Popeye Williams, Fr, OLB, #19
Speaking of sack numbers rising, Williams will definitely play a role in making that happen. Although Popeye is a true freshman, he has a plethora of moves to beat defenders and get to the quarterback. I’m already looking forward to Popeye and Gillotte coming off the edges for years to come.
Renato Brown, R-So, OL, #56
Brown started in 12 games for the Cards this year and is looking to help the Cards improve on offense this season. In practice, Brown has shown to have both that mean and nasty streak you want all of your lineman to have all while being smart enough not to cause his team yards.