Perhaps the largest complaint Louisville football fans have had about the first half of the Cardinals’ 2021 season has been defensive coordinator Bryan Brown’s reluctance to bring more than three pass rushers, particularly on third downs.
In razor thin losses the last two weeks to Wake Forest and Virginia, the U of L defense was woeful on third downs, allowing its opponents to convert on a whopping 19 of 29 opportunities. On several of those plays, a slight and ineffective Cardinal pass rush allowed the opposing quarterback to calmly spend several seconds in the pocket before finding an open receiver to pick up the conversion.
Scott Satterfield has seen the same thing as the rest of us, and he addressed it during his Monday press conference.
“I think that bringing pressure was the one thing we should have done more looking back to last week,” Satterfield said. “Instead of sitting back with the Virginia quarterback, because if you give him time, it does not matter how many guys you drop into coverage, he is going to find somebody.”
In the loss to UVA, Brennan Armstrong completed 40 passes — the most by an opposing quarterback in the history of Cardinal Stadium — and threw for 487 yards — the second most by an opposing quarterback in the history of Cardinal Stadium. But Satterfield says the U of L defense needs to prioritize the pass rush even against opposing offenses that aren’t quite as pass happy as Virginia’s.
“I think that we have to be able to do that to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands,” Satterfield said. “We got to do a better job with getting wider to where the offense can’t hit those balls on the sideline. I think in the Virginia game and Wake (Forest) game that we gave those plays up several times, so we got to do a better job with that. It is a little bit of everything. The coaches have to do a better job of getting the players in a position to make plays and the players got to do a better job when they’re in that position to make the play. It is a little bit of everything, but I think you give up whatever we gave up last week, there is enough blame to go all the way around.”
On Saturday, Louisville will face a Boston College team still adjusting to life without injured star quarterback Phil Jurkovec. Even so, backup Dennis Grosel is no stranger to Satterfield and Brown. The senior has played against the Cardinals in each of the last two seasons, completing just 13 total passes but seeing five of those go for touchdowns.
“He does everything pretty good, nothing bad,” Satterfield said of Grosel. “Sometimes you think he doesn’t run as well, but he gets out and go get some yards running the football and then, you think he’s more of a runner than a passer but then he sits there and makes those throws too. I think he’s a good football player. He fits perfectly for what they want to do offensively; run the football, take care of the ball, keep pressure on the defense and take shots and I think he does a good job with that.”
Louisville and Boston College will kickoff at 4 p.m. on Saturday inside Cardinal Stadium. The ACC Network will have the television coverage.