Marshon Ford has been a godsend for Louisville Football and Scott Satterfield. Ford has been the most consistent and reliable player on the team for three seasons now and he has become one of the best tight ends in the country and arguably the best H-Back in the country. He has a chance to really cement himself as an all-time favorite in UofL history this season but he needs others around him to help out. The tight ends outside of Ford accounted for 6 total catches last season which Ford was able to accumulate in three separate games by himself. While their blocking will be important, adding more options for the passing attack is needed.
Ford is the key player here and I could go on for hours about why that is. Louisville needs the H-Back role to be effective for the offense to work at its best and Ford has been just that. Blocking is where I think he is most valuable as he is routinely making a big block on UofL’s biggest plays each year. Ford does a great job of latching onto defenders in space and driving them out of the running lane. I think this will be where he will have the biggest impact on the offense improving this season.
As a receiver, Ford expanded his value last season by lining up in the slot in passing formations. He was instrumental on third downs on routes across the middle of the field and should see some snaps in that role again this year. Where I think he will be more useful, however, is in the play-action game where he can be an outlet for Malik. He moves around so much that teams can lose track of him and he is deadly on the RPO plays they use in short yardage.
Isaac Martin and Duane Martin will be the primary backups here but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them focus on one or the other. Isaac is a very good blocker with great size and toughness but he hasn’t been an option in the passing game so far in his career. Duane hasn’t gotten a lot of snaps but he is a little more athletic than Isaac and could likely be a better receiving option. I think this will be an interesting battle because they could use some bigger formations this year with Lance Taylor’s influence.
This is the spot that has to be better this season. Louisville hasn’t recruited or retained players very well here but they do have some players that have been around long enough to develop.
The starter will likely be Dez Melton as he received the majority of snaps last season. Melton was a running back in high school so there was always going to be a learning curve but at this point, the staff has to expect him to be more of a factor. If he can be a release for Malik this year, it would be a big boon for the offense. He can also be utilized in the play-action and misdirection plays we’ve seen before.
The depth at tight end is comprised of walk-ons who have played some snaps and made some plays. Francis Sherman had 3 catches and a touchdown in 2020 but didn’t record a catch last season. Josh Lifson had a 28-yard catch against Kentucky. I don’t expect either player to make a giant leap this season but Sherman could push Melton for snaps.