New head coach Scott Satterfield was just what Louisville needed en route to an 8-5 record in his first season. It was quite the jump for the Cardinals, who were 2-10 the year before with no wins in ACC play.
While last year’s eight wins was as good as possible, similar things are expected in Year 2 under Satterfield. Of course, oddsmakers don’t think major improvement will happen after an early preseason over/under of 7.5 wins with +400 to 1 odds to win the National Championship at 5Dimes.
Offense has Potential to be Even Better
Quarterback Micale Cunningham may have been the biggest surprise last year, tossing 22 touchdowns and five picks on 11.5 yards per attempt as a sophomore. While that average is a bit lofty, there’s no reason he can’t turn into a more consistent quarterback who doesn’t rely on boom-or-bust plays.
A couple regulars are gone on the line, but Satterfield brought in numerous guys to contend for starts. If the line doesn’t take a step back, this offense could improve on its 33.1 points scored per game.
That’s because in addition to Cunningham, top running back Javian Hawkins (1,525 yards, 9 TDs) and top receiver Tutu Atwell (1,276 yards, 12 TDs) both return.
The talent is there for continued success for the offense, it just depends on if Cunningham can improve and the line doesn’t take a step back.
Defense Will Continue to be a Problem
It’s a different situation on the defensive side because that was the main reason Louisville was blown out in all five losses, allowing 446.3 yards and 33.8 points per game.
That being the case, a lot of positions will be up for grabs, though the lack of a true spring doesn’t help the chances for this group to improve. At the least, juco transfers like end Yaya Diaby and linebacker Marvin Dallas could immediately become starters, while the slew of new freshmen will undoubtedly fight for time.
Throw in experienced guys like linebackers CJ Avery and Rodjay Burns, and things are at least looking up for the defense in 2020. Getting to another level where it can compete with better teams is another question.
Cards Need Win in 1st Game
The biggest thing for Louisville will be to win its opening game against NC State because if it doesn’t, it could easily be looking at 0-2. From there, the Cardinals open October with back-to-back road games, albeit against winnable competition.
Both matchups against the Virginia schools out of the Coastal division are also winnable, but it’s not the best schedule. To reach eight wins again, the Cardinals can’t afford a slip up and that means winning home games against the likes of FSU and UK.
Unless the defense makes a big improvement, it’s hard to see this team reaching more than eight wins. Sure, every game is winnable outside of the trips to Clemson and Notre Dame, but this defense was bad last year and without much of an offseason, it’ll be hard to make massive strides, no matter how good the offense can be.
2020 Louisville Cardinals Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. NC State
Sept. 12 at Clemson (early preseason line LOU +23.5)
Sept. 19 vs. Murray State
Sept. 26 vs. Western Kentucky
Oct. 3 at Syracuse
Oct. 10 at Boston College
Oct. 24 vs. Florida State
Oct. 31 vs. Virginia Tech
Nov. 7 at Virginia
Nov. 14 vs. Wake Forest
Nov. 21 at Notre Dame
Nov. 28 vs. Kentucky