It’s opening week, you know what that means. We have made it to the last part of our 2022 Louisville football guide, where we will be covering the quarterback position.
In case you need some last minute reading, you can read our previous position breakdowns from the summer:
- Running Backs
- Receiver Group (WR / TE)
- Offensive Line
- Defensive Line
- Secondary Group (CB / S)
- Special Teams
Malik Cunningham took almost all of the snaps at quarterback for Louisville in 2021, and had a bounce back season. Cunningham finished 2021 with 2,941 yards and 19 passing touchdowns, completing 62 percent of his passes and throwing just six interceptions last season. One more passing touchdown would have made Cunningham the ninth quarterback in FBS history to join the 20/20 club (20 passing touchdowns + 20 rushing / receiving touchdowns in a single season).
As a team, Louisville averaged 235.5 passing yards per game on 8.4 yards per attempt, both 64th and T-24th in FBS, respectively.
Projected Starter: Malik Cunningham
Back on the saddle for one last time, Malik Cunningham returns as the starting quarterback for Louisville in 2022.
Almost anyone that has followed Louisville football the last five years should know what Cunningham brings to the table. He’s an electrifying runner that can create plays with his feet, and he’s a good enough athlete to capitalize on any small openings.
With the strong running back room that Louisville has this season, Cunningham shouldn’t be asked to carry as much of the load in the running game as he did last season. That should, in theory, keep him from taking too many hits and exiting games, which has been an issue throughout his Louisville career. Putting more of the burden on the running backs could make Cunningham a more efficient threat as a runner, especially on read options, as it forces the defense to make a decision on who to key on.
As for his passing acumen, Cunningham checks most of the boxes. Cunningham is very good on the rollout, particularly in play action. He’s usually on target with play action in the short to intermediate range, and has shown the ability to make most throws that are asked of him. He has been prone to occasional overthrows in the deep passing game, but an offseason where Cunningham focused on refining his ability as a pocket passer should see improvement there. He did rebound from 2020 as far as being a more efficient passer, and should be better in that area this season. Improving as a deep passer and continuing to be efficient with the ball should put Cunningham in consideration for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Key Reserves: Brock Domann, Evan Conley, Khalib Johnson
Louisville’s going to have questions at quarterback in 2023, even with the potential arrival of Pierce Clarkson looming around the corner. The backups haven’t been able to log much, if any, playing time since 2020 and what’s been seen on the field hasn’t been encouraging.
Brock Domann was recently announced as the backup behind Cunningham. We haven’t seen much from Domann as a reserve at Louisville, but he’s more of the QB mold that Satterfield was working with at Appalachian State. His JUCO tape showed some solid accuracy and while not the athlete that Cunningham is, he’s a decent enough runner to make plays when he has to.
Evan Conley will likely be behind Domann in the depth chart, and has the most experience of Louisville’s QB reserves. He showed potential in his freshman season with thrilling play in 2019 against Boston College and Wake Forest, but his struggles afterwards paved the way for Cunningham to become the full-time starter. Conley hasn’t seen the field much in 2020 or 2021 and hasn’t made the plays that we’ve seen of him from 2019, but he’ll likely still be in the mix for a starting job in ’23.
Khalib Johnson will likely take a redshirt this season. His high school tape showed a strong arm and some promise as a runner, he’ll give Louisville an option in the long term that they’ve been lacking in recent years.