(Photo of Scott Satterfield: Jeremy Brevard - USA TODAY Sports)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Heading into the 2020 season, the Louisville football program was generating a fair amount of hype. First year head coach Scott Satterfield, who had inherited a team that went 2-10 before his arrival, guided the Cardinals to an 8-5 campaign in 2019. This not only included a Music City Bowl win vs. Mississippi State, but led to Satterfield winning ACC Coach of the Year.
Many thought Louisville could be a dark horse candidate to reach the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 2020, but they did not experience near the amount of success they had in the previous year. Thanks mainly to an atrocious turnover margin and at-times predictable offense, the Cardinals went just 4-7 and 3-7 in ACC play.
Not only that, but rumors started to emerge towards the end of the year regarding Satterfield and the head coaching vacancy at South Carolina. Said rumors became more concrete when Satterfield himself admitted to talking in person with the South Carolina brass, but categorized it as more of a 'conversation' and less of an 'interview'.
Louisville was able to generate some positive momentum by winning their regular season finale vs. Wake Forest, as well as signing one of the best on-paper recruiting classes in school history, but the program is heading into a pivotal season. Fan buzz is seemingly non-existent due to the disappointing 2020 campaign coupled with Satterfield's flirtation with South Carolina, and Satterfield himself is heading into a crucial year three with the program.
There's some pressure to be successful in 2021, both for his sake and the sake of the program. But what would be a benchmark for said success? Former UCLA head coach, NFL head coach and current ESPN analyst Jim Mora Jr. recently sat down with Louisville Report, and gave his opinion on what Satterfield needs to accomplish next season.
"I think he needs to get into a bowl game, and I think he needs to bring back that electrifying style of offensive play that we're used to seeing Louisville play with," he said. "I think that's what the fans want. They want that energy. You got the cool uniforms, you got that reputation of being an electric offense, and they want to see that."
At this point in time, Louisville seems to be favored to reach a bowl. The predictive college football metric SP+ currently has Louisville with 6.99 'projected wins', and ESPN's Football Power Index gives Louisville a 74.6% chance to reach six wins - the normal requirement to reach a bowl game.
The latter part might be a little tougher considering the offensive talent Louisville lost to the NFL Draft. During the 2020 season, wide receivers Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick, as well as running back Javian Hawkins, combined for 2,327 yards, or 46.7% of the Cardinals' total offense.
While Mora considers reaching a bowl the benchmark for success for Louisville next season, that is only part of the equation. At the core, he believes that Satterfield needs to work on the potential 'erosion of trust' between himself and the players & administration, and that winning is the first step to fixing it.
"Those players and their families have to know that he's all in with them," he said. "So I think he needs to show that, be dynamic on offense, and let's get in a good bowl game and win it. Then I think people will say, okay, you know what? This guy is a darn good football coach. We remember what he did in 2019."
You can follow Louisville Report for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on Twitter:
Facebook - @LouisvilleOnSI