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Bird on Bird: A Preview with Louisville’s Card Chronicle

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 13 Louisville at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re taking a look at the October 5th clash between BC and Louisville and what we need to know heading into the game. Big thanks to our friends at the Card Chronicle for giving us a little scoop on Louisville’s season outlook. The Eagles gets a week off after this game before heading into a brutal stretch of games to close out the season, so let’s see what we’re in for at Cardinal Stadium.

We don’t need to dwell too much on last season. Bobby Petrino out, Scott Satterfield in. What’s the general mood surrounding the former Appalachian State coach and his new regime at Louisville? What kind of changes should we expect to see with this Cardinal offense?

It’s been pretty standard “new coach after a disaster” stuff over here. There’s been a lot of talk about culture shift, new philosophies both on the field and off it; basically, “everything the last guy did, we’re going to do things differently.”

In keeping with that theme, Louisville expects to run the ball significantly more with its running backs this season than it did at any point during either Petrino era. Satterfield’s most successful offenses at Appalachian State were always run-heavy, so that’s the new expectation now at Louisville. He’ll use two backs, and a scheme that relies on the offensive line reading the defense and blocking based on where the defenders are, and then a primary back who’s able to read those blocks and then either cut his runs up the field or bounce toward the sideline.

In summary, everyone in Louisville is expecting this to be something entirely different than what we saw under Petrino.

We’re not too far removed from Lamar Jackson’s Heisman campaign. How quickly do you believe Satterfield can turn the program around?

That’s the biggest question down here. Louisville has had two significantly low points in its modern era, and in both of those instances, the new head coach (John L. Smith in 1998 and Charlie Strong in 2010) were able to come in and lead the team to a bowl game in year one. That was an easier task when the Cardinals were playing in Conference USA and the Big East, respectively.

Most rational fans in Louisville aren’t expecting that history to repeat itself in 2019. The expectation here seems to be a product in year one where the players are playing hard and seem to be enjoying football again, a product in year two that’s competitive in the ACC and in the mix for a bowl game, and then being back around eight wins by year three. That’s a tall task given the absolute disaster that was 2018.

Satterfield didn’t win right away at Appalachian State, and the program didn’t really even begin to hit its stride until year three. Patience -- something Louisville fans haven’t been particularly great about over the years -- is going to be key when it comes to this program getting back to where everyone here expects it to be.

Looks like we have a bit of a QB battle. In light of Malik Cunningham’s knee injury, who do you think should/will come out on top?

It would be shocking at this point if it wasn’t Jawon Pass. He’s been in the program for four years now, he was a heralded recruit who picked Louisville over Alabama and Auburn, and the hope is that his natural ability will be able to shine under a new regime and in a new system.

With Cunningham still not back to 100 percent, the only other option right now is true freshman Evan Conley, a three-star recruit who was headed to Appalachian State before Satterfield took the Louisville job. There have been some reports throughout the summer that he has looked as good or better than Pass, but throwing him straight into the fire seems … wrong.

The hope here is obviously that Pass was simply misused last season. If that proves not to be the case, then Conley will certainly get a shot at some point. Louisville fans and coaches are also extremely optimistic about the two well-regarded QB commits in the 2020 class -- Chubba Purdy and Tee Webb.

Are there any players we should keep an eye out for this season?

Hassan Hall is the guy who should be the featured back in this new run-heavy offense. He has explosive speed and put on a significant chunk of muscle during the offseason.

The other name is TuTu Atwell. He’s an explosive talent that I think the staff is going to use in a variety of fashions this season. He can catch it, he can run it, and he can even throw it a little bit. Expect to see a little bit of everything from Atwell in his second season at U of L.

Most BC fans remember the last time the Eagles AJ Dillon visited Cardinal Stadium. How do you see this one playing out?

Even with Dillon back and that image still fresh in everyone’s minds, BC seems to be the “we can get this one” ACC game that every Louisville fan has circled. Notre Dame is an expected loss, Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky are both expected wins, and then the Cards end September on the road at Florida State. That fourth game should be the best indicator as far as what the expectation for the BC game should be. If U of L is competitive with the Seminoles, then they should be able to be competitive with the Eagles. If they aren’t … well, Dillon might run for 700 yards.

Louisville’s regular season win total is set at 3.5 games. Do we hammer the over or exercise caution?

I would exercise caution. The rhetoric from the coaching staff very quickly shifted from “Louisville should never be missing bowl games” in December to “this is going to be a process” after spending some time watching film and going through spring practice.

Last season was such a calamity and it came so out of nowhere that it’s still really hard to get a handle on what to make of the state of the program. The most optimistic Louisville fans will tell you that there’s still a solid amount of talent on the roster, and that last season that talent didn’t manifest itself because the coaching staff quit. If that is in fact the case, then U of L should be able to squeeze out four wins. If talent was a larger part of the problem than Cardinal fans would like to admit, then two or three wins this season seems like the more likely scenario.

Lot of great info here. I’m going to say BC opens up as a 7.5 point favorite in this one. Thanks again to Mike Rutherford and the Card Chronicle. For all things Louisville, check him out on Twitter @CardChronicle.