The Louisville football team is undergoing the same type of roster turnover that a large number of college teams are dealing with right now. With a handful of new additions to the roster and more to come, I figured it would be a good time to recap the additions as well as diving into what they bring to the team.
I clipped two plays from each player that I felt demonstrated their skills and how they might fit for Louisville. My understanding is that UofL will be adding more players via transfer this summer so we’ll keep up with them so we can get a good look at the guys we’ll most likely see on the field this season.
QWYNNTERRIO COLE - DEFENSIVE BACK
Louisville needed some veteran depth at Safety and they got a guy in Cole who can do everything they need from the Strong Safety position. Cole is a former cornerback who made the move to Safety and really did well to learn the position. His ability to cover Tight Ends and other inside receivers will be a big help to the defense. His tackling in space is a bit hit or miss for me but he can obviously tackle as he made a ton of snaps for Alcorn State over the last few years. While I think that Lovie Jenkins will be the starter in the fall, Cole gives UofL the type of depth they need
This play is great because Cole makes a great interception but how he makes the play is what stands out to me. This is the first defensive snap of the game so Cole recognizes the situation well. He gets into his backpedal at the snap, but you can see that he stops when the Quarterback stops. He knows that this isn’t going to be a deep pass because the Quarterback is looking to throw off of what is essentially a three-step drop. So he stops his backpedal and identifies the route which is a double move designed to come open right in front of Cole. Then he gets to the point where the ball has to be as opposed to just closing on the receiver.
Cole shows off his skills in man coverage here. His feet never stop moving in any play that I watched and it helps him here as he gets a collision on the receiver and gets right into his hip pocket. He then runs with the receiver in a trail position until he runs them into the safeties playing deep. After that, it’s just him making a play. Louisville hasn’t had a single player over the last handful of years who has been able to make the offense pay for a mistake. Cole has a knack for finding the ball and this play is a good example of that. He also had a couple of interceptions off of deflections where he was just being aggressive and running to the ball.
JACQUES TURNER - DEFENSIVE LINE
UofL made it known early on that they weren’t happy with their depth at Defensive Tackle and they wanted to add some help through the transfer portal. They got a good one in Turner who Derek Nicholson is familiar with from his time at Southern Miss. Turner has played Defensive End in the past but he has added weight to get up to 289 pounds which should suit him well as a tackle in Bryan Brown’s scheme.
I really liked this play from Turner at Right End. He sees this play so well and makes a very simple move to beat the block on the edge and cut off the path for the runner. The rest of the defensive front make the play but Turner shows a level of quickness here that Louisville has been missing on the defense. With his added size, it will be interesting to see if he can retain this type of quickness to play in the middle of Louisville’s defense.
Versatility is the name of the game on defense and Turner should provide Louisville with another option on third downs as a pass rusher. Louisville has a tendency to keep some of their bigger linemen on the field in short or medium situations and Turner could allow them to do that while having a guy on the field who can bend the edge a bit. Turner doesn’t have a wide array of pass-rushing moves in the small amount of film I could find on him but he is decisive and shows different ways to get after the Quarterback.
LUKE MCCAFFREY - QUARTERBACK
Louisville took a look at a handful of transfer Quarterbacks and had mixed results. They missed on a couple but they also passed on some guys for whatever reason. When McCaffrey hit the portal the staff made short work of it and landed him pretty quickly. McCaffrey has great upside but he was outrageously inconsistent at Nebraska. However, watching Nebraska’s games, it’s fair to say that their offense made it hard for the passing game as a whole.
My theory is that Louisville will expand the passing game this year and utilize short passes much more often than they did in the first two years. This pass stands out to me because McCaffery makes this throw from the far hash and delivers the ball in a spot where his receiver can make the catch even if the corner somehow got into position to make a play. I don’t like labeling plays as “NFL fill in the blank” but this is the type of throw that gets featured to show arm strength. Being able to put this throw on a line like this bodes well for being able to make the throws Louisville will ask of McCaffery.
This exact play is why I think McCaffrey could see the field this year and probably gives him a chance to be the starter in year two. Louisville runs this play and Luke’s speed is obvious as he hits the seem on this run. I think he’s an option this season if Louisville wants to protect Malik Cunningham or just add a wrinkle to the offense. As for next season, Louisville will likely have a wide-open competition at Quarterback with McCaffrey having an edge over Evan Conley as a runner.
SHAI WERTS - WIDE RECEIVER
The goal to add more experience to the roster became obvious when Lousiville added Werts as a wide receiver. UofL has some veteran receivers but most of them haven’t played many snaps so far in their respective careers. Werts brings four years of experience as a starter at Quarterback and has a full off-season to learn how to play receiver. His speed in the open field and ability to make people miss should help him get on the field early and often.
I’ll go on the record to say that I think Louisville is fine in the slot after losing Tutu Atwell. But they are very young outside of Braden Smith and they needed someone who could come in that they knew could handle all that comes with college football. While Werts doesn’t have experience as a receiver, it’s obvious that he knows how to make plays with the ball in his hands in space. He shows off good speed on this play but I also like how he angles himself once the defenders start to close in on him. Some guys would look to make a move to avoid the defender to his right but he subtly cuts to the inside knowing that he can outrun the angle. I also absolutely love that he covers the ball towards the end of the play.
This is where I think Werts can truly impact the Louisville offense. Javian Hawkins is the only player in recent memory for UofL that could make a play like this. They’ve had speed in the open field but not a lot of guys that could make you miss. Braden Smith hasn’t shown that ability either so Werts could be a better option on the running plays that Louisville likes to use out of the slot. Just being able to get a couple of extra yards because you made a guy miss a square shot on you and instead get a glancing blow would be nice to see.
KENDRICK DUNCAN - SAFETY
Louisville lost both Safeties from last year’s defense but they got an upgrade when Kendrick Duncan chose to join the team. Louisville has struggled at the Free Safety position with Khane pass and Isaiah Hayes having limitations that were exposed at times. Duncan shouldn’t have any issues playing the position as designed by Bryan Brown. Duncan has great size which helps him in run support but he is also long and athletic in coverage.
It’s a bit hard to see in this clip but what Kendrick Duncan does here is so great to see from a player that will be starting in Louisville’s defense. This is a quick skinny post off of a short drop by the Quarterback. Duncan sits at the snap and just reads the Quarterback. He doesn’t even move until he sees that the ball is coming out. Then he makes a really nice catch for a guy that’s 6-3/225.
These two plays give a good look at why Duncan is a complete player. He can play deep safety and play the ball as we saw in the first clip but these two plays show that he can come up in run support and make open-field tackles. Darrynton Evans was a 3rd round NFL draft pick and Duncan tosses him like a rag doll on the first play and stops him dead in his tracks on the second play.
BRYAN HUDSON - OFFENSIVE LINE
I didn’t clip any plays for Hudson because he’s an offensive lineman and no one wants to see that. But Hudson’s value to the team will be his versatility. He can play all three of the interior positions and I think that he will be able to hold his own if he were needed at one of the tackle spots.
The other aspect of bringing in a player at Hudson’s level is that he will push the guys ahead of him. I’ve talked about the need for competition a lot since Scott Satterfield took over and we’ve seen why with how few guys we’ve seen play on the Offensive Line over the last two years. Hudson as well as a handful of young guys will push the starters this summer and throughout the season. Hudson could also supplant one of the starters before the season starts.