Saturday marks the final regular season game for Kentucky football this year. Big Blue Nation can be thankful for not having to go through the drama and angst that comes with needing to become bowl-eligible in the last game, but intensity will permeate households across the state because of the opponent—it is rivalry week, after all. Here’s what you need to know about the Louisville Cardinals:
Scott Satterfield is in his first season with Louisville, following six years as the head coach at Appalachian State. He led the Mountaineers to a 29-9 record over his final three seasons there, and has the Cardinals standing at 7-4 in his debut. He’ll look to win the first bowl game for the school since 2015 later this year.
Micale Cunningham has settled in as the quarterback. He has thrown for 1,708 yards and 19 touchdowns, while adding another 374 yards and six scores on the ground. Last week against Syracuse, he had six total scores.
Like the Cats, the Cardinals possess a lethal ground game. Freshman Javian Hawkins has been a true workhorse, with more carries than Cunningham and backup QB Evan Conley have pass attempts. He has tallied nearly 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging close to six yards per carry. Sophomore Hassan Hall also makes an impact, having 468 yards and five touchdowns. Cunningham is the third leg of the attack, which will present a big challenge to the Kentucky defense.
The aerial attack involves a lot of deep shots, with the top three Cardinal receivers averaging more than 18 yards per catch. Tutu Atwell is Cunningham’s favorite target, hauling in 57 receptions for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’ll be they key focus of the Cats’ secondary. Dez Fitzpatrick and Seth Dawkins are the other two speedsters. Fitzpatrick and tight end Marshon Ford are popular red zone targets, combining for 11 touchdowns.
Linebackers C.J. Avery and Rodjay Burns pace the team with 77 and 72 tackles apiece. Defensive back Khane Pass has 71 tackles, cleaning up anything that breaks into the second level.
Seven different players have an interception for the Cardinals, but nobody has multiple interceptions. DB’s Chandler Jones and Anthony Johnson have the most passes broken up in the secondary, with nine and six, respectively.
When Lynn Bowden drops back to throw, he can expect to see linebacker Monty Montgomery and defensive lineman G.G. Robinson to be close by. They lead the Cardinals in sacks, with five and four respectively.
Louisville and Kentucky once again square off for the Governor’s Cup at noon on Saturday at Kroger Field. The game can be seen on the SEC Network and the ESPN app.