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Louisville Football Mailbag

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It’s been a while so let’s get into some football questions before recruiting starts back up.

Central Arkansas v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The name at the top of the list seems to be Tee Martin. He reportedly has an offer and Louisville is waiting on him to make a decision. Martin is apparently hoping to land a job as an offensive coordinator and he might be waiting to see if he gets an offer for that spot somewhere before he says yes to UofL. I don’t personally see him getting an OC job at a power five school and I don’t know that he’ll take a G5 job.

At some point Louisville is going to make him give them an answer because they have to start recruiting in the next few days and current players have just gotten back on campus. Martin would be a home run hire as a wide receiver coach because he’s an elite recruiter and receivers have developed well under him.

If they don’t get Martin, there are a few guys that they could go after. Lance Taylor has a history with Scott Satterfield and he’s just been let go by the Carolina Panthers. Taylor was the running backs coach for Stanford when Christian Mccaffrey averaged 276 yards per game. He could be an option at the wide receiver spot or running backs. There will be other options, but I feel pretty good predicting he’ll be the guy if they don’t get Martin.

It’s hard not to go with tight end here as Jordan Davis is the only guy they have coming back there. Davis fits pretty well in the role of the tight end that lines up on the line but they need to find the second tight end. It’s more of a h-back role and I think that Tobias Little will be an option there. Little was moved to fullback before last season and looked very good as a blocker as well as a runner. He was never really utilized and then he got injured and missed this past season.

Little will help alleviate some of the stress of the lack of depth here. Louisville has already missed out on the top grad transfer option at the position and they will now have to rely on a potential JUCO commit and whoever they go after from the high school ranks. Little will absolutely have to step up and be a real option for them as a blocker as well as a receiver. Obviously, that’s if they chose to go with him in that role. I’d be pretty surprised if they don’t.

I will also say that I don’t know how Scott Satterfield hides the depth issues here. I’d have to estimate that they run the offense out of a two tight end set at least 75% of the time. It’s possible that they use more three-wide sets without a tight end on the end of the line but that h-back role is a major part of the run game as well as the play action stuff that is absolutely key in the offense.

I also could see the staff working Adonis Boone into the equation here. He was the emergency guy at tight end last season and could slim down and stay there.

I know that the staff will be very aggressive when it comes to how they try to close this class. They will go after some guys that “fit” and they will look for grad transfers and JUCO guys to fill the need spots. But, don’t expect them to just settle. Here are a few guys that fit the criteria you mentioned:

Renato Brown who has UofL in his top 5.

Cortez Andrews

Ja’Darien Boykin who just got an offer and is looking to schedule an official visit.

Steve Linton who is also looking to set up a visit.

Treron Collins who was an App State target.

There are more guys that they’re targeting and I think they’ll start to become more public over the next week. I don’t think we’ll see more than a couple of four star players at best, but there will be some high three star guys that will end up in the class.

I think it’s too early to truly know if Coach Satt was the better hire, but I do think that he’s done everything right so far and fans have good reason to at least pose the question. I think that the biggest positive of the potential Jeff Brohm hire was that you knew what you were getting at the power five level. He had won a couple of big games and he had shown that he could recruit at a high level at a non-blue blood school. Throw in the fact that he connected so well with the Purdue fan base and the students, and you had a good idea of what he could do here.

It’s also fair to wonder how unrealistic the early expectations would have been like and just how fans would react if he didn’t get the program over the hump. I personally think that Coach Satt can get the program to double digit wins with the staff that he’s brought in so far as well as the scheme that he runs on both sides of the ball. So, in general, I don’t think there’s truly much of a difference between what the two coaches would have/will do.

As for the staff, Brohm’s staff would have been a step down unless he was going to make some changes. Nick Holt is a fine defensive coordinator but I think there are real limitations to his scheme. They had some personnel issues this year and they struggled in some games. UofL will have those types of years and the scheme has to be able to overcome that. Satterfield has built a staff that will recruit well and they all have solid to strong resumes. Speaking of that:

This is easy on the first part and much harder on the second. Bryan Brown is my favorite hire and that was obvious to me after watching the firs couple hours of game film. I really love the scheme and it worked extremely well for the entire season. The SunBelt has a lot of different offenses and I don’t think they played poorly against any of them. I also love the idea of having a young coach with great energy and the ability to motivate. Satterfield being able to bring him with him was a huge part of why I fell in love with the hire.

As for a ranking, I’ll give it a shot:

  1. Bryan Brown
  2. Scott Satterfield
  3. Dwayne Ledford
  4. Cort Dennison
  5. Mark Ivey
  6. Frank Ponce
  7. Stu Holt
  8. ShaDon Brown
  9. Dale Jones

I really like what they’ve done with the staff and I think they’ll finish up strong in the near future. The key to this staff to me is the off the field recruiting team they built. Steven Field and Pete Noctha will be a part of what is essentially a separate recruiting staff made up of off the field staff members. In short, UofL will go from recruiting being an afterthought to it being a daily part of the staff responsibilities with dedicated staff members who help organize and assist coaches in their efforts. To me, that’s the big aspect of the staff that Coach Satt has built that is being overlooked.

I don’t think that Jawon Pass will be the starter for the Notre Dame game. I’m pretty far away on the belief that things will work out for him in this new offense. Pass has the skills to be a good quarterback but he just never put it all together this past season. On top of that, the skills that you need to succeed in this new system are exactly the skills that Pass struggles with. His timing was always problematic and he didn’t make decisions quickly enough. Those two things are the two biggest necessities from what I’ve seen while doing my film reviews.

The other aspect is the ability to run the option. Pass has the athleticism to do what’s needed but it still comes back to the quick decision making. I just didn’t see that from him. If I had to pick between the two current quarterbacks on the roster, I’d expect Malik Cunningham to have a better shot at being the starter next year. He showed a solid ability to throw the football and should benefit from the scheme’s ability to force single coverage.

If I were a betting man I’d put money on a grad transfer quarterback coming in and winning the job. Ben Hicks is the latest potential transfer and I think he’d take the job this spring if he ends up here. He’s not the runner that the offense would like, but he finished ninth in the country in touchdown passes in 2017 while playing in Chad Morris’ offense. He could be looking for an offense with a more balanced attack after playing in pass-happy schemes for the past three years.

To me, if they get the quarterback situation figured out and they get the production they need out of that spot this is a bowl team. I think they can get to six wins and I think that’s a good first year for Coach Satt. This team has some talent and they have guys that fit the scheme on both sides of the ball. The big question is if this staff can get buy in and fix the fractured locker room. If they can, I think things get turned around this season.

I can’t link them all but I’ve been highlighting some of the plays by the defense in the series of Film Reviews I’ve been doing. One of the first things that stood out is how Brown coaches his players to play the receivers hands in coverage. Defensive backs are taught to focus on the receivers hands and make a play on the ball by getting their hand into the path of the ball and the receiver’s hands. I haven’t seen a lot of interceptions so far that have come from guys turning around on deep balls and making a play. However, those passes are defended as I described above.

I’m not sure if Brown coaches his guys to go for the pass break up in those situations or not, but it’s definitely possible. Brown has coached a group of players that have intercepted an insane amount of passes and none of it seems to be by luck. I think he will bring improved technique as well as an improved scheme that will lead to better play from the defensive backs.

This is a tough one but I’ve yet to see an offensive linemen pull in Satterfield’s scheme. It will be a welcome sign for me personally because so many things can go wrong with pulling linemen and we typically saw the wrong as opposed to the right. Where it really frustrated me is in the play action passing game. Because they always pulled guys when they ran it, they had to pull guys when they tried to pass off of it. That didn’t work well and it made it a lot harder to create explosive plays.

Satterfield’s offense is a zone running scheme that uses cut blocks at times but doesn’t pull linemen. That will be a new thing that these linemen will have to learn as Petrino’s offense didn’t use cut blocks. The play action factor is big, in my opinion. App State got a lot of single coverage because safeties and linebackers bit on the zone run action all the time. I’ve pointed out a few plays in the Film Review series I referenced above.

The difference in the defensive scheme will be most noticeable with the defensive front. Brian VanGorder could have played with four blocking sleds up front and we would have seen the same outcome. Bryan Brown’s defense uses three down linemen but it’s not a 2-Gap scheme like most 3-4 defenses are. Instead, they play like a four man front that slants and stunts to blow up blocking schemes and cause havoc. BVG’s scheme just ran the front four up the field and they got blocked. A lot. Brown’s defense will have guys looking to split blockers or force double teams so that the linebackers will be free to make plays.