With a veteran roster that won nine games last year, Western Kentucky (WKU) presents a challenge for Louisville in the season opener at Cardinal Stadium Sept. 12.
“They do have a veteran team coming back,” Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield said. “On both sides of the ball, a lot of guys that have played a lot of football games.”
The Hilltoppers have their six top tacklers on defense returning from last season highlighted by defensive end DeAngelo Malone. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound senior finished with 99 tackles and 21 tackles for a loss last season.
Malone, who had 11.5 sacks last year, uses his speed and quickness to disrupt opponents’ offense. Satterfield said the Cardinals will know where Malone is on the field because of his ability to win 1-on-1 matchups with blockers.
“He can run plays down from behind, but he is also quick enough that if you run at him, that he can avoid the block and get in the backfield,” Satterfield said.
Linebacker Kyle Bailey led WKU with 109 tackles last season while Devon Key and Antwon Kincade combined for 177 tackles as part of the secondary.
On the offensive side, Gaej Walker is back after rushing for 1,208 yards and eight touchdowns last season along with two of the Hilltoppers top three pass catchers in Jahcour Pearson and Joshua Simon.
Tyrrell Pigrome, a graduate transfer from Maryland, brings proven experience to the quarterback position. The 5-foot-10 quarterback accumulated 2,407 yards of offense in 34 games at Maryland, starting seven times.
While WKU has veterans back, the team could be different from a year ago. The Cardinals defeated WKU in Nashville at Nissan Stadium last season 38-21.
“You really don’t know what the chemistry of a team is going to be when you come back for a new season,” Satterfield said. “The first game there could be some things that are different.”
WKU ended its 2019 season with four straight wins, including a road win over Arkansas and a victory in the First Responder Bowl over Western Michigan.
Louisville currently holds an 11-game winning streak over its in-state opponent.
“I think their coaching staff has done an outstanding job there,” Satterfield said. “We know they are going to come in here and have a really good football team.”