LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Last season, there was very little that Louisville’s offense couldn’t do under first year head coach Scott Satterfield. The Cardinals sported top-30 rankings in both total offense (24th, 447.3 ypg.) & scoring offense (30th, 33.1 ppg.), and it was the primary catalyst for an 8-5 season after going 2-10 the year before.
As good as they were on that side of the ball, there was still plenty of room for improvement. Louisville boasted a good rushing attack led by Javian Hawkins & Hassan Hall en route to averaging 212.8 yards on the ground for 24th in FBS, but inconsistencies under center gave them only the 65th-ranked passing attack in the nation – averaging 234.6 yards through the air.
Through the first two games of the 2020 season, the Cardinals have taken significant strides in the passing game. Louisville’s 325 passing yards per game is good for eighth in the nation and leads the Atlantic Coast Conference, a mark that can mainly be attributed to the growth of quarterback Malik Cunningham.
“His decision making and his comfort in the pocket, that improved throughout the season last year and is really good this year,” offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford said. “It’s not where he’s looking to immediately run out of the pocket, but he’s going through his progressions and making his reads.”
Of course, some credit is due to Louisville’s wide receiver corps too. Led by Preseason All-American Tutu Atwell, the Cardinals are averaging 14.44 yards per completion – the second-best mark in the conference (Boston College) and 14th-best in the nation.
“Guys are getting open, making contested catches, catching the ball and making plays with it after the catch which is really good to see,” Cunningham said. “We’re been doing a really good job in the passing game.”
Louisville’s much improved passing game isn’t quite perfect, though. While he may have completed 26 of his 36 throws and thrown for three touchdowns against Miami, Cunningham also had two turnovers and mistimed another throw to tight end Ean Pfeifer that would have been for an easy touchdown.
Cunningham admits that fundamentals got away from him at times during the game against Miami, but is committed to fixing them ahead of their upcoming road matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers.
“We just got to learn from those mistake and move on. That game is behind us,” he said. ‘We just have to move on to Pitt.”
Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26 at 12:00 p.m. on ABC.
(Photo of Tutu Atwell: Atlantic Coast Conference)
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