Speed versus size.
Louisville football’s speed won out.
The Cardinals defeated Mississippi State 38-28 in the Music City Bowl Dec. 30 in Nashville. Louisville scored 31 unanswered points to rally from a two-touchdown deficit for its first bowl win since 2015.
Going into his first bowl game as Louisville’s head coach, Scott Satterfield was concerned about Mississippi State’s length and size.
“That’s a long team length wise and they’ve got a lot of good size on that team,” Satterfield said. “That’s a little bit concerning. We’re not as big up front really as you talk about o-line, d-line.”
Louisville utilized its speed and big-play ability to finish with 510 yards of offense.
Micale Cunningham threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 81 yards. Javian Hawkins had 105 rushing yards, his eighth game this season with over 100 yards. Tutu Atwell hauled in nine receptions for 147 yards and a score while also throwing a 33-yard touchdown.
Satterfield wanted to use his playmakers against Mississippi State to create a balance offensive attack. Louisville had 312 passing yards along with 198 rushing yards.
“We do have significant speed at a lot of positions,” Satterfield said. “All these guys that can really run, so we’re trying to create space for them and allow them to run, and that’s how we’ve lived.”
Atwell set a program record for receiving yards in a single season with his performance against Mississippi State while Hawkins became the first Cardinal running back to rush for 1,500 yards in a season.
“That’s what you want,” Satterfield said. “You’ve got an offense that can run the ball and throw it, you’re hard to defend.”
Louisville’s skill position players aren’t going anywhere soon. Atwell is a sophomore and Hawkins is a redshirt freshman. Tight end Marshon Ford, a redshirt freshman, had 53 receiving yards and two touchdowns against Mississippi State.
“We’ve got some good young players that we love the way they run,” Satterfield said. “We try to utilize that speed, there’s no question about it.”