In 2019, Louisville overachieved. In 2020, Louisville underachieved. In 2021, Louisville improved from 2020 but did not make a big, impressive statement. Last year was certainly not a disaster, but it left fans wanting more. Now comes a 2022 season in which the Cardinals will be expected to take a significant step forward.
Progress can’t be minor and incremental. It needs to be dramatic and exponential. The Cardinals get quarterback Malik Cunningham back for one more season. The 23-year-old is prodigiously skilled and is a very fast runner who can make plays outside the pocket. Giving Cunningham the resources and tools to succeed has to be the priority for this team.
Coach Scott Satterfield knows that if he doesn’t make the best possible use of the skill-position talent he has on this roster, his job security could become a discussion point in December.
How The Team Changed This Offseason
There really wasn’t much of any turnover for the Cardinals. In terms of departing players, there was nothing notable which would point to a need to replace a specific position on the roster. Louisville was one of three ACC programs which did not have a single NFL draft pick. Duke and Syracuse were the two others.
This upcoming season is a story of player development. Satterfield and his staff need to take all the players who are returning for one more year and squeeze every ounce of potential from them. One important addition to the roster is Arizona State transfer Jermayne Lole.
The defensive lineman gives Louisville a physical and dynamic presence up front. The Cardinals hope this becomes one of the 10 or 12 most impactful transfers in the whole country.
Louisville Will Be Successful If…
The offensive line protects Malik Cunningham. Louisville has a gifted quarterback and quality skill-position players, but it needs an offensive line which can hold its own against strong front sevens in the ACC Atlantic Division, Clemson and North Carolina State in particular. The teams in Louisville’s division have good defenses and are strong up front. Louisville’s offensive line has to be ready to meet the challenge this season.
Louisville Will Disappoint If…
The defensive line falls apart. It is true that Jermayne Lole beefs up the defensive front and reduces Louisville’s weaknesses at this position group. However, he is only one man, and this unit is still conspicuously thin.
Louisville needs the backups to make meaningful contributions and provide reinforcements for the starters over the course of the season. Players whose abilities are currently doubted have to find ways of becoming legitimate impact players in 2022.
If Louisville can cultivate depth on the defensive line, the season could realize its potential. If not, the season could collapse.
The One Best Louisville Cardinals Bet Is…
Regular season win total: 5.5 wins
Louisville is far from a complete team, and there are noticeable weaknesses on the roster, but having Malik Cunningham back on the roster at quarterback for one more season is going to compensate for a lot of weaknesses and limitations. Louisville’s defense might give up a lot of points, but the offense is going to score in bunches. Take the over.