LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Coming off of a much-needed bye week, Louisville (3-3, 1-2 ACC) will be looking to get back in the right direction after back-to-back heartbreaking losses - most recently at home vs. Virginia.
Next up, the Cardinals will be back at home in Cardinal Stadium to host Boston College (4-2, 0-2 ACC) - who is also looking to snap a two-game skid. Kickoff against the Eagles is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 23 at 4:00 p.m. EST.
Prior to their upcoming matchup, quarterbacks coach Pete Thomas and quarterback Malik Cunningham took time to meet with the media. They discussed the growth of Cunningham, the relationship with his receivers, Boston College's defense, and more.
Below is the transcript from their press conference, as well as the video:
Quarterbacks Coach Pete Thomas
(On the growth of Malik Cunningham since the start of the season)
He's done a great job throughout the offseason with film study, working on his mechanics, working on staying in the pocket. I think it's really showing this season. He's doing a great job sitting in the pocket, going through his reads, he's very accurate. He's not forcing the football, he's taking what the defense gives him, and he's thrown away when he needs to. He's not turning the football over. He's done a great job, and I think all the hard work in the offseason is really paying off. He's playing really, really well, and obviously, we're gonna need him to continue to play well going forward to win some of these games.
(On how Malik Cunningham has progressed as a leader)
He's a great leader. He's a leader on our offense, and I think he's one of the leaders on the team - which is obviously why he's a team captain. He's taking on more of a leadership role and is very vocal, especially with the receivers. We lost Tutu and Dez last year, but we have a lot of guys that are all right there, in terms of catches and yards. I think Malik's done a great job with all of them, and they've done a great job too. We got some playmakers out there. But I think it helps too, sometimes - we're just calling the offense - for the most part coach Satt is - and who's ever out there at receiver, he trusts, and he's going to go through his reads no matter who's out there at that receiver. I think there's some benefits to that as
(On how he has worked with Cunningham to continue to progress through his reads)
Obviously, we know he can do when he's out in the open field running the football. So, all offseason, and day in and day out, we just continue to hone in on the reads. For the most part, that's all we work. The other stuff is very natural to him, so you don't really need to work that. We just work on sitting in the pocket, going through your reads, trusting yours reads, and finding the open guy. Then when it is time to pull the ball down and go make a play, that's natural instinct. That's when that takes over. He's done a great job at it, he's worked really hard at it, and I think it's showing in the games.
(On if the recent deep throws to Tyler Harrell are indicative of Cunningham's progression as a pocket passer)
Yeah, definitely. I think a very important part in playing quarterback is not looking at the rush, and trusting your o-line. You can't look at the rush, you got to feel the rush, and I think he's done a great job of feeling the rush. Both of those throws, and a couple of other ones throughout the season, have shown that he's not looking at the rush. He's looking at the defense, what they're doing, he's trusting his o-line and he's making those throws. The first play the game was a 91-yard touchdown. Great throw with a little bit of pressure in his face, and then we took the shot there in the fourth quarter. We didn't complete it, but we were really, really close to completing it. Those two throws were big time throws, and he's gonna need to continue to make those throws in order to win some of these games.
(On when he thinks it 'clicked' for Cunningham)
I think it really clicked at the UCF game. We've had a lot of conversations, and what's gonna make him a better runner, is proving that he can sit in the pocket and make throws. Then the defense's have to defend that, which opens up some more running lanes. I think the UCF game is when you really show that, "hey, I can sit in the pocket and make these throws", and in turn, it's gonna make me a better runner as well, and a better offense.
(On Boston College's defense)
They don't give you any easy throws. They play a lot of man coverage, they press a lot, and they do bring a lot of pressure. They don't give you any easy throws. We're gonna have to be precise, Malik is gonna have to be very accurate. Every throw is going to be contested. The DB is going to be right on the receiver, so we're gonna have to be very honed in on the route concept we're running, and where we're trying to go with the football. They make your work for everything. They're a very disciplined defense, and they play very, very hard. They're tough, and they're gonna make you earn everything.
Quarterback Malik Cunningham
(On his growth since the start of the season)
My improvement has been throwing from the pocket, getting the guys to ball in space, trusting the O-line, trusting my reads, and if it's not there, throw it away. I feel like I've made a lot of strides in that in the past six games.
(On his relationship with the receivers)
When we lost Tutu and Dez - a lot of those guys came in with me, a lot of the wide receivers that are playing now, so the chemistry and the relationship has always been there. I always told those guys that their time is gonna come, and now it's their time to show you guys what they can do. The offseason work was big for us, because none of those guys had a touchdown besides Jordan Watkins on a reverse play. Putting that in those guys' heads, that they got to make plays and step up, was big. They took it to heart, and they've been making plays this year.
(On the help from the running backs)
At the beginning of the year, it was kind of a struggle for us to run the ball a little bit with that outside zone - something that we're known for. Our last two to four games, it's been hitting good for us, the inside and outside zone, so I don't have to run the ball as much. Those guys have been blocking their tail off all year in protection, and when they get out of protection, they've been catching the ball and making some plays downfield, which is good. Hats off to those guys, they've been running the ball well the last four games.
(On how nice it was to see Hassan Hall get going against UVA)
I was happy for him, to see him get back to his old self. I wouldn't say really rusty, he's had some injuries, so he hadn't been able to get out there with us. To see him back out there, running those touchdowns and getting those first downs and those bully yards, it was good to see. Just wish he would have gotten in on that last one.
(On Boston College's defense)
They're always gonna be where they need to be. They're a very well coached defense, a lot of those guys played against us last year. Looking forward to that matchup. They're a good football team, man, and we got to come play Louisville football. Nothing special, just play our football.
(On if he thinks about the final possession from last year a lot, where he fumbled the ball)
Yeah, but like I told you guys earlier before the season started, all those losses from last year still stuck with me. This is one that I really want bad, and they're coming to our house. We're gonna do our best to defend it.
(Photo of Malik Cunningham: Reinhold Matay - USA TODAY Sports)
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