Scott Satterfield is taking over a Louisville Football program that is in a very weird spot. The previous staff recruited some positions quite well but they ignored others to the point that there is no depth to work with for the new staff. Coach Satt and his initial few staff members will have to make quick decisions that will impact the 2019 season because the roster has a few big issues that need to be fixed. I took a look at the three biggest issues, in my opinion.
FIXING THE SCHOLARSHIP ISSUE AT QB AND TIGHT END
As I’m typing this, UofL has a whole three (3) scholarship players between the quarterback and tight end positions. That’s obviously a major issue even before you evaluate the players that hold those scholarships. Scott Satterfield’s offense utilizes a tight end and a h-back on most plays and Louisville doesn’t have a player for one of those spots right now.
What the incoming coaching staff will have to figure out very quickly is if they can utilize guys that they already have on the roster to fill a hole or if they need to look at transfer options. Tobias Little is a player who was tabbed as a fullback last year but he also had the ability to carry the ball. Can he make a third transition to that h-back spot where his blocking ability can be used? The concern is that he will have to be able to be a receiver as opposed to being a runner.
Depth is the next concern there because you need at least 4-5 guys at these spots to fill out your roster. Jordan Davis is only here for this next season, so you have to bring in one or two high school kids for the future and probably a JUCO player that could get on the field next year.
From a quarterback perspective, Louisville needs immediate help. Jordan Travis transferring might end up being one of the most impactful issues to come out of this last season. He fits the Satterfield offense very well with his passing and running ability and would probably be the leader to be the starter next year. Instead, Coach Satt will definitely have to look to the JUCO ranks or the grad transfer market to find someone that can do what is needed to run his offense as designed.
Jawon Pass still has potential as a passer but his biggest issue is that he doesn’t make decisions quickly enough. That’s a must in this offense with the amount of slants they run. There will also be a lot of plays where there are only two receivers out in the route. On the other hand, Malik Cunningham has the running ability needed to run the option in this offense but he has been extremely inconsistent throwing the ball.
In my opinion, Coach Satt should take a hard look at the grad transfer market because there aren’t a lot of great options in this JUCO class. There are a few guys out there right now but I’d bet that he is already getting calls from guys who feel like they would have a good chance to win the starting job.
IDENTIFY HIS STARTING OFFENSIVE LINE AND THREE BACKUPS
Louisville’s offensive line play was abysmal under the previous staff and the 2018 season might have been the worst performing group of all of them. To make matters worse, three of the guys that played last year have graduated. That would normally be a blessing in disguise, but Louisville doesn’t have proven depth to just plug the next guy in. The staff will need to figure out if those seniors played because they were the best option or because other players were just not ready yet.
Coach Satt will also have to determine if the players that he is inheriting fit his system. A guy like Mekhi Becton is great as a pass protector in normal pass protection and he’s a great power run blocker. But, can he block in this zone scheme that asks linemen to get out and run? Does the line need to be the smaller and more agile type of guys like App State utilized?
Louisville might be able to look to Wyatt Smock as an option at one of the open spots on the line. Smock had to sit last year as a transfer because he signed with Vanderbilt and then left after he got on campus. Adonis Boone is another guy that fits the system from an athleticism standpoint. If you can trust Caleb Chandler and Cole Bentley to improve with better coaching, you can at least feel good about six guys in this group. This will likely be the key position group for me when we get our first look at things in the spring. Nothing works on offense if these guys can’t get it done.
DECIDE WHO WILL BE THE NOSE TACKLE IN THE 3-4 DEFENSE
UofL will be going back to a true 3-4 defense next year after spending last year in a hodgepodge of different fronts under Brian VanGorder. Louisville completely ignored the defensive line position two cycles ago so they had to mine the JUCO ranks to fill spots in the past cycle. Unfortunately, the change in system meant that they went heavy on defensive tackles and only brought in one nose tackle. In short, they are unbalanced on the defensive line again.
A normal 3-4 typically has a big body at the nose spot. Usually, you see a 300 pounder or at least a guy that’s 295 pounds or so. UofL has a few guys in that 295 range but none of them are your typical nose. Jared Goldwire and G.G. Robinson are both tackles that are more accustomed to being at the 3-technique over the guard. Mike Boykin seemed to take on the role late in the year when BVG went with that front but he didn’t play the role very well. Louisville brought in guys that want to make the play and that’s not what you really need from that spot.
Djemi Dumervil-Jean really needed a year to get his body right in 2018 but they chose to play him even though he was out of shape and ineffective. As of now, you can’t trust that that he will be a guy you can rely on to be the disruptive force that this scheme needs. App State had an all-conference level player in that spot and he helped everyone at the second level because he disrupted blocking schemes. UofL has to identify the guy that can best do that and that player has to understand and accept that specific role.