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Satterfield Acknowledges Defensive Schematic Failure vs. UVA, Open to Shift in Philosophy

A persistent late-game three-man rush over the last two games came back to bite Louisville, and head coach Scott Satterfield is open to adjustments in their defensive approach.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It has been a rough month of October for the Louisville football program. Just three weeks ago, the program was positioned to not only extend their best start under head coach Scott Satterfield, but put themselves in the Atlantic Division driver's seat.

Instead, what came to pass were back-to-back heartbreaking losses both at Wake Forest and vs. Virginia. As head coach Scott Satterfield has said many times, Louisville is a few plays away from being 5-1, but entered their midseason bye week at 3-3 and on a two-game losing streak.

While the offense was not entirely perfect, it's hard to give them much blame for either loss. That side of the ball combined for 67 points and 1,038 total yards of offense in those two game, which in most cases, should have been enough to elevate the Cardinals to 2-0 in that stretch.

That being said, you can probably already infer that the defense should receive much of the blame for the losses against the Demon Deacons and Cavaliers, and you would be correct. Louisville surrendered 71 points and 1,023 yards, while allowing a whopping 22 third and fourth downs in those two games.

There are several factors that play into the defense's performance over the last couple games, and quite frankly, throughout the whole season up to this point. However, the crux of the issue has been the persistent usage of a three-man pass rush - particularly in late game situations - that more often than not, has hurt the Cardinals way more than helped.

Coming off of their bye week, Louisville had plenty of time to mull things over, look back at the film, and possibly make changes going forward. Not bringing enough pressure, specifically against Virginia, was one thing Satterfield wishes Louisville has done differently.

"There are several things that, as coaches, you go back and watch to figure out what you want to do differently. I think that bringing pressure was the one thing we should have done more looking back to last week, instead of sitting back with the Virginia quarterback," Satterfield said. "Because if you give him time, it does not matter how many guys you drop into coverage, he is going to find somebody."

He isn't wrong. Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong completed 40 of his 60 passes against Louisville, throwing for 487 yards and three touchdowns. The yardage mark was good for second-most ever by a Louisville opponent, while the completions set a new record.

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Play after play, Armstrong found holes in Louisville's coverage, despite the fact that eight defenders were dropped back more often than not in the second half. It seems that the coaching staff is starting to realize the late-game pseudo-prevent defense is not working, and Satterfield could be open to taking risks and bringing more pressure.

"If you miss a tackle or are out of position, it is going to be a big play, but that is the chance that we have to take, rolling the dice with that," he said. "I think that we have to be able to do that to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands."

During the bye, Satterfield and his staff spent a lot of time analyzing how they can adjust the defense, and are trying to mix up their scheme from a situational standpoint. Bring more pressure? Play more coverage? Go with more man-to-man? Put more defensive backs or pass rushers on the field? They're looking at it all.

"You have to look at all those things, and we've started to look at those things defensively to try to figure out putting the best players in the best positions to make plays," he said. "Then scheme wise, what is going to give us the best chance to stop teams? We've started to look at all those, and hopefully we've come up with a better plan to go out there and slow down these offenses."

Kickoff vs. Boston College at Cardinal Stadium is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 23 at 4:00 p.m. EST.

(Photo of Jalen Mitchell: Jamie Rhodes - USA TODAY Sports)

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