Is Louisville Clemson’s next challenger in the Atlantic?

Is Louisville Clemson’s next challenger in the Atlantic?

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Is Louisville Clemson’s next challenger in the Atlantic?

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Louisville definitively earned the honors of the most improved team in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division last season with an 8-5 record and Music City Bowl win in 2019.

Head coach Scott Satterfield turned the Cardinals around in his first season in ‘Derby City’ and successfully built upon the talent left behind by Bobby Petrino. Now Louisville looks to improve on a solid season with another successful campaign this year.

Last year Clemson routed Louisville on the road 45-10, a game that jettisoned a team that finished the season 4-2 in its last six games despite a roller coaster start. The Cardinals return a wealth of talent on offense but hope to improve drastically on the defensive side of the ball to improve on a solid season last year.

Offense

Satterfield returns most of his key players on offense this year including breakout junior Micale Cunningham who completed 62.6-percent of his passes for 2,065 yards and 22 touchdowns with only five interceptions one year ago. Cunningham also rushed for 482 yards and six touchdowns last year and will be a serious threat to the Tigers’ defense this year.

Junior running back Javian Hawkins also returns after racking up 1,525 yards, good enough for second in the ACC, that included eight 100-yard games. Dez Patrick also returns for his senior season at wide receiver after hauling in 35 receptions for six touchdowns last year. The offensive line needs some depth but should be good enough to create space for the Cardinals’ weapons.

Defense

Last season Louisville fell short on the defensive side of the ball in 2019 to say the least, it finished 12th in the ACC in total defense and gave up 500-plus yards in six games.

The Cardinals return one starter on the defensive line but all four starting linebackers return but have room for improvement. C.J. Avery is one of them who led the team in tackles one year ago.

Louisville returns a pair in the secondary that allowed 31 touchdown passes and only intercepted seven passes last season.

 Special Teams

Watch out for the Cardinals on kickoff and punt returns because they finished third in the conference last year. But Louisville needs to find consistency in its place kicker Ryan Chalifoux who converted just one-of-three tries on field goals and missed three-of-25 extra points.

COVID-19 Update

Louisville shut down spring practice after finishing just half of the scheduled time allowed back in March. It returned to its facilities on Monday June 9 but only 30 returned to campus at the time being including starters and those rehabbing from injuries.

A second group of Cardinals arrives on June 22 and the rest of the team moves on to campus on July 6.

Clemson masks are now available.

Please stay safe and get your officially licensed Clemson gear right here!

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