Offensive Rotations Still a Work in Progress for Louisville

Heading into their second game of the year, the Cardinals are still trying to determine their exact position group rotations on the offensive side of the ball.
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - One of the main topics of discussion heading into the 2020 season for Louisville revolved around how the coaching staff would utilize the offensive roster, and who would stand out on that side of the ball.

The Cardinals did return quarterback Malik Cunningham, as well as most of their starters on the offensive line, but lost a majority of their offensive skill production. With Tutu Atwell, Dez Fitzpatrick and Javian Hawkins all heading to the NFL, roughly half of their total offense from the 2020 season was leaving with it.

Following their season opener against Ole Miss down in Atlanta, it seems like Louisville has a lot more questions than answers.

During the first half of their 43-24 loss to the Rebels, the Cardinals' offense looked like a complete and total mess. The offensive line struggled to hold their blocks, the new-look receiver room had trouble getting open, and even Cunningham had several offline throws.

The offense did make necessary adjustments and rebound in the second half, even outscoring Ole Miss during that span, but it was far too little, far too late. It was unlikely that Louisville would be able to hammer out their exact position group rotations after just one game, but heading into week two against Eastern Kentucky, those rotations are still very much up in the air.

"We're still analyzing and looking to see what gives us the best chance to make plays for us outside, and what position that might be. Then also up front. Seeing which guys are going to perform and play the most snaps," head coach Scott Satterfield said. "A lot of that will be determined by the end of week, and we'll see who we want to get out there the most, and who we need to try to get the ball to."

Where the most questions lie are within the receiving corps. Heading into the season, Louisville knew they had a wide receiver room that had both youth and relative inexperience, and it showed multiple times against Ole Miss. While the staff is continuing to evaluate the room, Satterfield was pleased with some aspects of their performance on Monday.

"(Jordan) Watkins is a sure player, we saw that Braden Smith can do some good things, we trust what he's gonna do. (Josh Johnson) had a good game -- caught six balls," Satterfield said. "We'll see where we're at with that as we finish out this week, and see where the guys go."

While not as big of a concern, the staff is also in the process of determining snap counts with both the offensive line and running backs. He notes the linemen Bryan Hudson and Michael Gonzalez performed well against the Rebels and could see more run going forward, as did backs Hassan Halls and Trevion Cooley.

But at the end of the day, not matter who ends up receiving the lion's share of the workload, Satterfield wants them to help progress the offense moving forward.

"(The receivers) certainly got to play better, we all got to play better offensively, we all know that," he said. "We got to play fast, we got to play physical up front, when a running back has an opportunity to make plays, he's got to be able to make plays."

Kickoff against Eastern Kentucky in Louisville's home opener is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11 at 7:00 p.m.

(Photo of Hassan Hall, Malik Cunningham: Brett Davis - USA TODAY Sports)

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