The Scott Satterfield era kicks off on Monday night at Cardinal Stadium against Notre Dame. For a fanbase that is coming off of watching one of the worst seasons imaginable and a 2-10 record, there is definitely excitement just for the simple fact that football is back and we feel a breath of fresh air with this new coaching staff. Count me in for that. I can’t wait to be at Cardinal Stadium on Monday night and take in what I hope is an electric atmosphere before the game. I really am excited for the entire season. In saying that, I will also be realistic and realize that while the program is going in the right direction, that may not show up in the win-loss column this season.
The fanbase is made up of many different kinds of people with different expectations. Everyone is free to judge the season their own way. I see some people say that hearing about a new culture is great, but they want to see the results on the field. While I agree with that, I just feel like a lot of people saying that mean that they need wins and they need them in 2019. That’s generally not how football works.
This team was 2-10 and most of those losses were not close. You were there or you watched. I don’t have to tell you the scores, but I am going to tell you some just to reiterate how bad they were for the sake of this post. I will even exclude the Alabama game because that’s just what they do to people. Following the meltdown against Florida State in which the Cards had the win and gave it away, these were the scores to finish the season:
Vs Georgia Tech 66-31
At Boston College 38-20
Vs Wake Forest 56-35
At Clemson 77-16
At Syracuse 54-23
Vs NC State 52-10
Vs Kentucky 56-10
Yikes. Five of those seven losses were by at least 31 points. That is a LOT of ground to make up in just one season. I do not think all of those teams were that many points better than Louisville when it comes to the talent on the field, but I also don’t think that you turn around all of those margins to wins right away.
If, at the end of the 2019 season, Louisville is 3-9 and 4-8 and that is all you will judge the season by, you will probably be upset. It will be tough to go through those losses again while they happen. But what if those 30+ point losses turn into 14-point losses? Yes, it’s still a loss and moral victories aren’t what we are looking for, but you will have to look at what those losses looked like. Did the team fight until the end? Did they ever give up? Did they look like they cared and actually wanted to be out there? Were the losses mainly attributed to the team just running out of gas because of depth? And then maybe in year two, those 14-point losses are close games into the fourth quarter? Closing the gap of those margins will take time. Be patient.
This is not basketball, where you can bring in one or two guys and change your entire program in an instant. It’s much harder and takes more time. You will hear about the lack of depth on this team all season long, and for good reason. The previous regime recruited as if they were playing fantasy football and only needed skill position players. Linemen? Who needs those? Let’s just get 42 wide receivers, sounds like a plan. Quarterback is struggling? Eh, just bench him. That should be great for his confidence.
I don’t recall the exact scenario, but it was definitely during the Florida State or WKU game last season. The Louisville defense got a sack on 3rd down to force a 4th down in a pretty crucial part of the game. The crowd was into it and I looked at the UofL sideline. You would think there was just a simple handoff play up the middle for three yards. Nothing. Nobody was fired up. Little things like that will be what I am looking for.
Think back to Charlie Strong’s staff. Those guys on the sidelines were fired up right there with the players. It was contagious. Did you see that the last four years? No, no you did not. I believe this staff will go back to those energetic ways of being excited with and for the guys. They care about the players both on and off the field, which is a welcome change. That makes a difference. That will show progress. It won’t score more points, but it will help push this program in the right direction.
Again, you are free to judge this season however you want to. Just please realize that building a college football program takes time, usually more than one season, especially in a power five conference. Before you tell me that Charlie Strong turned things around in year one, and I do love what he did here, his six regular season wins were against EKU, Arkansas State, Memphis, UConn, Syracuse, and Rutgers. What he did was pretty incredible for the first season. I just don’t think it will be fair to compare Scott Satterfield’s year one to Charlie Strong’s. Let Satterfield do it his way and don’t feel like there always needs to be a comparison. Louisville has never had a season go that poorly and then have to face a really good schedule like this the next season. This isn’t Conference USA or the Big East.
Now that that’s over, bring all of the energy and noise you can to Cardinal Stadium on Monday night. After what this team has been through, these guys deserve to have a stadium that has their back. Watch for that sideline to be rocking and watch for a team and staff that are engaged for 60 minutes. Watch for progress. This thing is going in the right direction. It starts on Monday.