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The Wynnedbag: Golden Knights Week Part One

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 06 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game - Louisville v Ole Miss Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Wynnedbag is back after missing last week due to dad life. I’ve tried to add in some of the still relevant questions from what was a very packed submission list after the Ole Miss game.

As always, send your questions via Twitter (@keith_wynne), email (keithwynne2@gmail.com), or the Card Chronicle Facebook messages.

This was submitted after the Ole Miss game but after two games I do think there are a couple of improvements to note. Special Teams has been better in some ways while still needing some consistency on kick returns. Mark Vassett has been about as good as you could hope with some long punts as well as good hangtime on shorter punts to allow coverage to get down the field and force a fair catch. It hasn’t been a huge thing but should help out later in the season.

The secondary has been much improved, in my opinion. Ole Miss really attacked the Linebackers in the first game and they also used their pace and RPOs to make it really rough on the defense. I still think that this is the best offense UofL will see this year, so I believe that the defense will still take that step forward this season.

I don’t know that any player helped themselves in the Ole Miss game but I’ll take this as an opportunity to point out some guys that have played well so far this season and some guys that have not. At least in my opinion.

Tre Clark has obviously been the guy that has stuck out as he has made the biggest plays. I think he will continue to lock down his side of the field and I think Greedy Vance has been solid on the other side when he’s been in. It will be interesting to see if Bryan Brown looks to do some things schematically to help coverage on the inside with how the corners are playing.

Kendrick Duncan has been very good so far with just one glaring mistake so far when he missed a tackle against EKU. He made multiple open-field tackles against Ole Miss and has been strong in run support.

Ahmari Huggins-Bruce has been a bright spot for the offense. My hope is that he can continue to make plays but that the offense doesn’t go away from spreading the ball around.

Nick Okeke has struggled some when he’s been playing inside so far. I was really hoping that he would be playing more of the Card spot on early downs but UofL won’t see a team that will allow them to substitute on the fly for a couple more games. My hope is that Okeke will settle in more with more game experience in that spot.

Singling out an Offensive Linemen seems kinda silly but cole Bentley was a guy that I expected to really play well this year because he decided to come back but also because he looked like he had worked on his body this summer. I was hoping we would see fewer instances of him being pushed back into the play but that hasn’t been the case so far.

I have also been disappointed with Malik Cunningham when it comes to how quickly he bails out of the pocket as well as how poor his eyes have been when he scrambles. He has missed multiple open receivers when he’s gotten out of the pocket and that just can’t happen with the experience he has.

From Stephen via email: It seems most teams don’t try to return kickoffs anymore; they just take the ball on the 25-yard-line. Through 2 games the Cards have attempted to return 10/10 kickoffs and our starting field position has beyond the 25 4 times. We have started drives inside the 20-yard-line just as often as we’ve been beyond the 25. Why do we consistently give up easy field position to start our drives this way?

I want to point out that I don’t know the actual strategy of the coaches here but I do believe from what I’ve seen over the last handful of years, that they do want to return most kicks. This staff spends a lot of time and resources on Special Teams and my thinking is that they view returns as an opportunity to score. We know returns can change a game with how Hassan Hall impacted games two years ago. The issue, of course, is that poor returns can kill a drive before it starts and can impact the defense if you don’t move the ball.

Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with kick returns. They’re so hit and miss that you can’t help but wonder if just taking the guaranteed field position isn’t the smart play. But then you have guys with speed who can get you a touchdown or better field position. Hall is averaging 24 yards per return as of now. I’d guess that number would need to take a big dip for them to change the strategy.

This is a fantastic question that I ended up thinking a lot about once I started looking into the answer. I’m possibly off by one or two here but going by the depth chart, 42 of 60 players were recruited by the current staff. That’s overwhelmingly the case on defense with only 17 of those players being from the offensive side of the ball.

For some more context, 6 of the starters on offense are Satterfield recruits. On defense, the entire secondary and Defensive Line is comprised of Satterfield recruits save for 3 players. The interior of the Offensive Line and the Quarterback are holdovers on offense. Only 2 Special Teams members are holdovers.

My takeaway is that Satterfield and his staff should have more and better options at the Quarterback position. That’s a huge issue for them as competition has helped them a lot at some other positions. The defense improving each year and having more of Satterfield’s recruits is obviously a good sign. The offense probably needed to flip the Offensive Line by now like the defense flipped the secondary. The group hasn’t been able to block the zone scheme and if the backups can’t do it, that points straight to recruiting.

I really think this is a factor in how this team is playing right now. Louisville is all kinds of out of sorts on offense and some of the key positions are players that Satterfield inherited. In year three, you expect to still see some holdovers but this staff has killed the transfer portal and Ean Pfeifer is the only impact transfer they’ve added on offense. Bryan Hudson will likely change that but how are we still waiting in year three for a changemaker on offense that was recruited by this staff?

The additions on defense as well as the potential of guys like AHB, Jordan Watkins, and Jalen Mitchell show that the staff has and can add talent to the team and have improved the talent in some specific areas. However, it can’t be ignored that they have failed to improve the Quarterback room and they have added a lot of Offensive Linemen that haven’t been able to supplant three starters as of yet.