Cunningham Excited to Lead Offense in 2021 Wednesday, Feb 24 2021 

By Tyler Nunez–

There is little question who will manage the University of Louisville football team’s offense this year.

Malik Cunningham has 33 games at the quarterback position under his belt, and last year he showed a high ceiling for potential as one of the ACC’s most effective duel-threat passers.

Throwing for 2,617 yards on a 64.1 percent clip in addition to running for 609 yards and seven touchdowns, Cunningham served as the lifeblood of the Cardinals’ offense in 2020.

His biggest weakness last season was turning the ball over, but the redshirt junior is a playmaker.

“We know what Malik Cunningham can do with his feet, and when he’s on the edge making plays,” said newly-promoted quarterbacks coach Paul Thomas. “I think just the next step is continuing to develop his footwork, which in turn is going to make him a better passer, and just continuing studying defenses. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of certain defenses so you can attack those weaknesses in the pass game. So that, combined with working on footwork, that is going to be really big for him continuing to develop as a passer.”

For Cunningham himself, he recognizes his biggest weakness last season as his turnover vulnerability. He threw 12 interceptions last season, more than double what he threw in 2019.

In part, this was due to nearly doubling the number of passes he threw in total (304), but he said he feels that if he can limit turnovers he can help the Cardinals become a more dominant team in the conference.”

“I’ve been waking up every day telling myself I can’t turn the ball over,” Cunningham said. “I can’t go out there scared, and play not to turn the ball over, that’s how turnovers happen. But just not force anything, just trust in my O-line and receivers that they’re going to be where I needed to be. It’s my job to deliver on the ball, and that’s what I’ve been doing up to this point.”

As for how to limit those turnovers, Cunningham added that it should be as easy as trusting the offensive scheme, of which he as become immensely comfortable running, and trusting his teammates, especially those who share the backfield with him.

“If the defense is giving me a certain look… like, every play is not going to be a home run play,” Cunningham said. “So it’s good to find the next man open, and I just don’t want receiver thinking he’s going to get open when he’s not. Just finding the running back. The running back’s going to be my best friend.”

Behind Cunningham on the depth chart and pushing him to make those improvements is sophomore Evan Conley.

Conley saw action three games last season, completing 4 of 5 passes for 48 yards. As a freshman he tallied 613 passing yards and four touchdowns in seven games played.

“First of all, Evan Conley is an awesome kid,” Thomas said. “He’s a phenomenal leader, one of the best leaders we got on the team. He does everything you want out of a leader and especially out of a quarterback.

“He’s pushing Malik every single day. It’s a great competition between the two. They have a great relationship. They’re both great leaders for us, and Evan Conley does everything you want. He’s a great quarterback, as you saw in 2019. He made some great plays in some big time games and crucial situations. So we feel great about Evan with where he’s at, and he’s gonna keep pushing Malik to be the best quarterback he can be.”

The importance of the quarterback position is rarely understated, and that definitely won’t be the case for Louisville this season.
But this spring, the Cardinals can remain comfortable knowing that they have experience, talent, leadership and depth at the position going into 2021.

“They know the offense really well, and I think they’re both getting better,” Thomas said. “Trying to work on different things with both of them, and they’re working real hard. Doing a lot of extra things, doing a little couple things a little bit different. But overall, I’m seeing some improvement. They’re making the plays that needed to be made.”

Photo and Story Courtesy of GoCards

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Louisville gets clawed by no. 3 Clemson Tigers Monday, Oct 21 2019 

By Mariam Prieto —

Louisville lost against No. 3 Clemson with a final score of 45-10 on Saturday Oct. 19. This was the Cardinals fourth ACC game and second conference loss.

This was Louisville’s first game against a top five ranking team under head coach Scott Satterfield.  “I’m proud of our guys, they continued to fight the whole way through,” he said.

In the first quarter, Louisville’s (4-3, 2-2) defense held it together, blocking Clemson’s (7-0, 4-0) advance. The Tigers only scored a field goal in the first quarter, ending 3-0.

The second quarter saw the Tigers take charge of  their offense, with a touchdown scored in the first minute of the quarter. The Cardinal’s defense suffered, and the Tigers scored another touchdown. Louisville scored a field goal and brought the score to 17-3 by the end of the quarter.

In the last two minutes of the third quarter, Clemson advanced on the Cards with a touchdown after rushing 49 yards. Clemson added a kick attempt to their touchdown, and finished the quarter with a score of 24-3.

The fourth quarter saw freshman Javian Hawkins make the sole Cardinal touchdown. Although their offense ramped up, Louisville’s defense took a hit. The tigers were able to get past the Cards and scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Freshman Evan Conley proved important to the defense with a combined passing of 107 yards, alongside sophomore Micale Cunningham. Hawkins rushed a total of 129 yards. Junior Dez Fitzpatrick received 63 yards, alongside sophomore Chatarius Atwell’s 37 yards.

Cunningham commented on the defense’s improvements. “We played better. We made them work for everything, and we didn’t really give them anything,” he said.

Clemson took the lead with a rushing average of 8.1, while Louisville ended with 3.6. Louisville had the higher receiving average of  13.4, while Clemson finished with 11.5.

Satterfield referred to the lack of conversions on Louisville’s end when he said, ” We didn’t make enough plays. The bottom line is that they out-executed us.”

“We were not able to get any momentum in that game.”

Louisville will face University of Virginia in their fifth conference match up on Oct. 26 at Cardinal Stadium.

Photo by Louise Scharff / The Louisville Cardinal

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Louisville topples No. 19 Wake Forest 62-59 Sunday, Oct 13 2019 

Gabriel Wiest —

After Louisville’s (4-2, 2-1) first ACC win against Boston College, the Cardinals upset undefeated Wake Forest 62-59. This mid-season win marks head coach Scott Satterfield’s first victory against a ranked team with the Cardinals.

The win against No. 19 Wake Forest (5-1, 0-1) came as a challenge on the road, with Louisville claiming their second ACC win for the season. Notably, this was Wake Forest’s first ACC game in this years schedule. Starting with a loss in conference play puts the Deacons at a deficit, needing to prove their ACC strength.

The second highest scoring game in ACC play started off with an energetic Cardinal offense that scored 21 points within the first quarter. Freshman Javian Hawkins started off scoring for Louisville and ran the ball eight yards for a touchdown.

Quickly after, sophomore Seth Dawkins scored a touchdown off of a pass, advancing 55 yards. The first quarter ended with a touchdown by sophomore Hassan Hall who returned the ball 100 yards. Wake Forest only scored a touchdown, leaving the score with Louisville on top 21-7.

During the second quarter Wake Forest caught some traction with two touchdowns. Louisville also had a touchdown by sophomore Tutu Attwell off of a nine-yard run. The Cardinals scored a field goal, with the score 31-21 at the half.

The third quarter came with moderate gains by the Cardinals scoring 14-10 over Wake Forest. This left the Cardinals four more points better off than at the second quarter with 44-31 at the end of the third.

Wake Forest rallied during the fourth quarter, nearly toppling the Cardinals. The Wake Forest offense exploited a weak Cardinal defense and amassed 28 points.

Even with a revitalized Wake Forest offense in the fourth quarter, Louisville maintained the lead scoring 17. The final score left Louisville with the three-point win margin over Wake Forest.

Receiving for Louisville was led by redshirt junior Dez Fitzpatrick with 125 yards who earned two touchdowns. Overall the Cardinals gained 295 yards off of passing.

Rushing for the Cardinals ended with an impressive 225 yards. Freshman Evan Conley led the pack with 79 yards and one touchdown. Not far behind, Hawkins had 60 yards and also earned a touchdown during the game.

Wake Forest respectively had over 100 yards over Louisville in the receiving game with 423 yards where they focused on quick passing.

This gives the Cardinals a two-win streak as their schedule reaches the most challenging point. Louisville will face off against undefeated Clemson (6-0, 4-0) home at Cardinal Stadium on Sat. Oct. 19 at noon.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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