LOUISVILLE, Ky. - During Louisville's first two games of the 2021 season, they were not exactly playing the most inspiring brand of football. In the first halves against Ole Miss and Eastern Kentucky, the effort seemed to be lacking in several on-field areas, and the overall energy of the team appeared to be listless.
But when UCF came to town in week three, a switch seemed to flip for the Cardinals. The offense did not stutter out of the gates, the defense played with much more discipline, and the overall increase in energy and effort helped play a crucial role in their 42-35 win against the Knights.
“I think our team took a big step forward Friday night, and last week in their preparation and with their energy, so they kind of set the standard," head coach Scott Satterfield said. "We want to be right there at least, if not better."
Satterfield first started to notice a turnaround in both departments during the week of practice leading up to last Friday night's showdown. He says the scout team produced great looks for UCF, and that both the offense and defense fed off of that.
By the time kickoff came, it was a completely different atmosphere - both on the field and on the sideline. Not only could you see Louisville playing with much more fight on the gridiron, but those on the sideline were much more pumped up than they had been against the Rebels and Colonels - and it made a difference.
"The sideline was as live as I've seen our sideline since the bowl game (vs. Mississippi State)," Satterfield said. "It felt very similar to that this weekend. Our guys didn't care what the score was. They were flying around, playing hard. The sideline was into it. The stadium was rocking. It was just a great atmosphere, and we have to continue to feed off that sideline."
The next step is for Louisville to maintain those levels of energy and effort, and that won't come easy this week. The Cardinals' next game has them hitting the road for their ACC opener, traveling to face Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla.
The Seminoles might be 0-3 on the year, but Satterfield notes that they have tons of individual talent. Not to mention that, but as part of ACC travel rules, Louisville can only bring 72 players with them instead of their full compliment of 116.
Not having over a third of their total roster will make feeding off of sideline energy difficult, on top of the fact that they will be playing in a hostile Doak Campbell Stadium. But Louisville has already made strides to ensure the energy and effort from the UCF game carries over to against the Seminoles.
"It will be different," Satterfield said, "That's one of the things we just talked about with our leadership group. We have to have a great week of preparation; and that's where it starts.”
Kickoff against FSU is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25 at 3:30 p.m. EST.
(Photo of Malik Cunningham: Jamie Rhodes - USA TODAY Sports)
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