2019 Notre Dame Football Preview

Digital Edition

Blue & Gold Illustrated: 2019 Notre Dame Football Preview

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Page 119 of 163

118 ✦ BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY BRYAN DRISKELL Bobby Petrino went 41-9 and had two top-10 finishes in his first stint at Louisville (2003-06), but a 36-26 overall record and a 2-8 start last season in his second tenure (2014-18) resulted in him being dismissed last November. New head coach Scott Satterfield arrived after leading his alma mater Appalachian State to a 40-11 record the last four sea- sons, including a 28-4 mark in the Sun Belt Conference. The 46-year-old brings a com- pletely different style of coaching than his predecessor. "Satterfield is squarely in the Dabo Swin- ney [of Clemson] 'player's coach' model," explained CardinalSports.com publisher Mark Ennis. "Not in the sense that play- ers get whatever they want, but in the 'win through hard coaching and connecting to the players as people' sense. "… This way of coaching and relating to players is very different from what the team had in Bobby Petrino." Building stronger relationships with play- ers is a way coaches can establish greater discipline within a program. "The insistence by the staff of better re- lating to players has also come with much stricter adherence to rules and expectations," Ennis explained. "In visits to the football facility, there were prominently displayed boards showing which players weren't mak- ing it to lifts, to study hall or to class." That accountability should carry over onto the football field, and the defensive staff has the most work to do while overhauling a unit that ranked 128th out of 130 FBS teams in scoring defense, 127th in rush defense and 122nd in total defense. "When new defensive coordinator Bryan Brown arrived and had a chance to watch the 2018 team play, he said the team was slow and they were slow primarily because there were players playing the wrong position across the board," Ennis noted. "Safeties who should've been outside linebackers, lineback- ers who should be playing on the line, ends who should be stronger and playing inside." The result was 12 defensive players shift- ing positions during the spring. One player who returns in the same spot is redshirt junior quarterback Jawon Pass, who is looking for a bounce-back season. "The staff believes there's still a winning quarterback inside Jawon Pass," Ennis said. "He was highly rated out of high school, has all the measurables and did show the occa- sional spark of what he's capable of last year. "… He's front and center in offseason workouts and meetings. He might be the biggest benefactor of the coaching change." In an era where quarterback play is so instrumental to winning, this might be the biggest takeaway of the offseason for the Cardinals. Reasons For Optimism • Improved coaching • Depth at wide receiver • Athleticism at linebacker The arrival of head coach Scott Satterfield should allow Louisville's athletic pass catchers — led by red- shirt junior Dez Fitzpatrick and sophomore Chatarius Atwell — to thrive … Louisville's defense needs a lot of work, but the gifted linebackers will give defen- sive coordinators Bryan Brown and Cort Dennison a foundation to build upon. Reasons For Concern • Questions at quarterback • Offensive line problems • Pass rush woes Louisville must find an answer at quarterback, whether it be redshirt junior Jawon Pass or red- shirt sophomore Malik Cunningham … Despite the presence of preseason All-ACC junior tackle Mekhi Becton, the offensive line struggled last season, with the Cardinals ranking 13th in the ACC in rushing and 14th in sacks allowed … On the other side of the ball, the Cardinal pass rush ranked 128th according to Pro Football Focus in 2018. LOUISVILLE CARDINALS GAME 1 • SEPT. 2 • CARDINAL STADIUM X-FACTOR: Quarterback Malik Cunningham is an explosive athlete who rushed for a team-best 497 yards last season. If he doesn't start under center, his speed could be used elsewhere on offense. PHOTO COURTESY LOUISVILLE QUICK FACTS All-Time Series: Louisville leads 1-0 Last Meeting: Louisville 31, Notre Dame 28 (Nov. 22, 2014; South Bend) Head Coach: Scott Satterfield, 0-0 at Louisville (1st year) and 51-24 overall (7th year) 2018 Results: 2-10 overall, 0-8 ACC Atlantic (7th) Returning Starters: 14 (5 offense, 9 defense) Prediction: Notre Dame 41, Louisville 17 RETURNING LEADERS Rushing: QB Malik Cunningham (497 yards, 5 TD) Passing: QB Jawon Pass (1,960 yards, 8 TD) Receiving: WR Dez Fitzpatrick (422 yards, 3 TD) Tackles: LB C.J. Avery (56) Sacks: Three players tied (3) Interceptions: Avery (2) 2019 SCHEDULE Date Opponent 2018 Result Sept. 2 Notre Dame — Sept. 7 Eastern Kentucky — Sept. 14 vs. Western Kentucky* W, 20-17 Sept. 21 at Florida State L, 28-24 Oct. 5 Boston College L, 38-20 Oct. 12 at Wake Forest L, 56-35 Oct. 19 Clemson L, 77-16 Oct. 26 Virginia L, 27-3 Nov. 9 at Miami (Fla.) — Nov. 16 at NC State L, 52-10 Nov. 23 Syracuse L, 54-23 Nov. 30 at Kentucky L, 56-10 * at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.

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