It’s time for my favorite post of the year even though it’s a handful of months late. I usually post this after signing day but with the coaching change I though it made more sense to hold off until the roster was a little more settled. My past “predictions” have been laughably bad at times like when I predicted that Tyler Ferguson would be the starting QB in 2015. So feel free to just laugh if you see something that looks impossibly dumb in this post.
A few months back I did a recap of the Spring Showcase and I made it clear that I felt that Louisville needed to find a quarterback in the transfer market for the upcoming season. I don’t feel any differently at this moment, but Scott Satterfield obviously disagrees with me. Coach Satt hasn’t named Jawon Pass the guy but he doesn’t really need to with the comments that he has made and the actions that have been taken with Pass. He is one of the members of the “10-Strong” group that consists of leaders from each position group. Satterfield has also made it known that he plans on playing Malik Cunningham in a different position in packages to get him on the field.
To me, Pass looked like the same guy I saw at open practices under Bobby Petrino. He was incosistent and when he missed, he missed badly. But, Satterfield seems to think that it’s an issue of confidence more than anything and hopefully the new staff can get him on track to play like the Elite 11 talent he was coming out of high school.
The job is Hassan Hall’s to lose but I don’t think that it will be as easy as some think for him to be the first feature back since Bilal Powell. Hall has the skill set that this staff wants in a running back but I worry about how his running style might work out. He has a bit of an upright style and he doesn’t show a lot of patience. In a zone scheme, you have to work to find your spot and at times that means you have to just wait and Hall hasn’t shown the ability to do that yet.
The staff seems to really like Javian Hawkins. He has been featured in a handful of videos on social media and he has made some of the lists that Mike Sirignano posts from time to time. Hawkins also fits the offense well because of his size and speed. The question is if he can shed tacklers and run through arm tackles like they want. Behind those two, I see Dae Williams as the next in line. He changed his body a bit and looks a bit quicker than he did before.
Tyler Harrell/Devante Peete/Josh Johnson(?)
Louisville went from having way too many receivers at the end of last season to having just enough to get by. That’s not a bad thing but it’s a glaring example of how bad the roster makeup was. The top level of the group is a proven group of guys that should do well in the new offense as long as the quarterback position is settled. I think that Dez Fitzpatrick will play outside in the new offense opposite of Seth Dawkins. Tutu Atwell will be the first choice in the slot.
I felt that Dez was set for a breakout year last season but we all know what happened. If this offense can run the ball half as well as the 2018 App State offense did, I think that he could have that big year this time around. App State blew mostly everyone out last year so they ended up running the ball really well but not really taking advantage as much as they could in the passing game. They hit plenty of big plays on offense because of their run game but not nearly as many as they would if they weren’t beating the brakes off of the other team. This season they won’t be able to do that and I think we’ll see more one-on-one throws down the field to Dez and Dawkins.
Atwell should flourish in the slot on a myriad of plays that will involve orbit motion to take pitches and handoffs as well as throws. He should also have some opportunities to run after the catch which is where he should be at his best. Thomas Jackson will push him for time and should be the guy we see out there when they go four-wide.
The depth has a lot of promise and I’m really interested to see what they do with Josh Johnson. He was recruited by App State out of high school so it’s obvious they like his skill set. I’m just wonderng if they keep him in the slot or if the move him outside. UofL has two slot receivers committed for next season and that makes me think that they are moving one of the slot guys from last season to an outside spot. Johnson has enough size to make that move.
As for the guy I expect to make the biggest leap and suprise folks, it’s Justin Marshall. He has unbelievable size and he was the best receiver on the field in the Spring Showcase. He barely got on the field for Bobby Petrino but he has been a leader in the weight room and has shown really good skills so far under Satterfield. I’m very intrigued to see how it all translates this fall.
Louisville will play with two “tight ends” a lot this year but one will really be a h-back. On the end of the line, Jordan Davis will obviously be the first guy in line because he’s the only tight end on the roster that was a scholarship tight end when the season ended. He has the size and the ability as a pass catcher. Consistency has always been his issue. I’m very interested to see if his willingness as a blocker will be improved this year.
Ean Pfeifer is a converted offensive lineman from Vanderbilt that has completely changed his body to move to tight end. He’s listed at 245 pounds right now and his blocking ability is obviously sufficient. The questions about him are all about him being able to catch the ball and run with the ball. I like the fact that the staff took a chance on a guy who at least has shown the ability to do enough as a tight end. We all have to wait to see if he can do more than enough.
Jefferey Banks/Dez Melton
This is one of the more important roles in the new offense as this is the position that provides a lot of the backside protection in play action as well as a lead blocker in the run game. Marshon Ford was put on scholarship this spring and I think they will be using him in this role in the fall. Ford is an athletic kid and you need guys that are willing to do the little things in this role and most guys that earn a scholarship are exactly those types of guys.
Dez Melton isn’t one of the higher rated guys in the class but he has the size and athleticism you like to see. Melton was a running back in high school and as long as he can handle it physically, I think he will have a chance to be the second man up here.
I think the left side of the offensive line is pretty set with Mechi Becton anchoring the blind side and Caleb Chandler next to him. Becton is one of the few known commodities on this team and he’s being recognized as a top offensive tackle by some publications. Chandler got some playing time late last year and showed some flashes but ultimately had some of the same issues as the veteran players did. I tend to think that the offense will be “left-handed” because these two guys have the potential to be dominant.
Cole Bentley/T.J. McCoy
The center spot and the right side of the line are where the complete abandonment of recruiting and roster management show up the most, in my opinion. Cole Bentley and Robbie Bell are the only players with extensive experience that were left over after the 2018 season. The staff went out and landed T.J. McCoy as a grad transfer to either add depth or to take over the center spot, but there’s not much else there outside of freshmen they brought in.
In my opinion, McCoy will be the starter at center. He has the most experience there out of anyone on the roster and he played against really good competition at Florida. You just can’t beat those things. I also think that Robbie Bell and Cole Bentley have more flexibility and it allows Dwayne Ledford the ability to get his best five players on the field together. That’s not a knock on Tyler Haycraft because he looked good to me in the short time I got to see him in the spring. He has also been around for a good while and they wouldn’t be relying on a young guy who might be overwhelmed by all of it. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see Adonis Boone as a “swing” lineman who can play as a sixth man at either tackle or guard spots.
The kicker spot is pretty automatic with Blanton Creque coming back. Blanton was placed on the 10-Strong group that the staff puts together with one player from each position that is deemed a leader. It’s somewhat substantial because Mason King was named a captain last season and would seem like the obvious choice. I think it will be a very good thing for both of those guys to be leaders on the field because they command important roles during the game. My hope is that their escalated roles will lead to fewer dumb penalties as well as some accountability for effort or lack their of if they see it. The last thing this team needs is boneheaded errors in the third phase.
I’m completely guessing here because it was a little hard to decipher how App State did things when it came to returners. Darryngton Evans returned the first kick of the year for a touchdown last year when he was listed as a wide receiver. Well, Evans became the teams leading rusher after Jalin Moore was injured so it seems like they really just wanted the fastest guy possible back there.
That would likely be Hassan Hall but he will also be the starting running back and I don’t know that they would want to risk his health with more touches than they need. That could lead to Tyler Harrell being the top returner with Josh Johnson as the next option. I could also see Javian Hawkins getting a shot. Cornelius Sturghill is a sleeper pick also, though he hasn’t played offense for a few years now and ball security/instincts could be an issue.