Cards' platoon system with quarterbacks likely to stay


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- Dealing with injuries and inconsistency, Louisville coach Scott Satterfield has played two, and sometimes three, quarterbacks in all but one game this season.

Don't expect that to change as the Cardinals (4-3, 2-2) head into their last five games of the regular season, beginning with ACC Coastal Division leader Virginia (5-2, 3-1) Saturday in Cardinal Stadium (3:30 p.m., ACC Network).

Satterfield confirmed as much during his weekly press conference Monday afternoon. Of course, with Jawon Pass's season-ending foot surgery last week, Satterfield only has two healthy quarterbacks at his disposal -- redshirt sophomore Micale Cunningham and freshman Evan Conley.

That duo alternated in the 45-10 loss to Clemson and they bring a different style, with Cunningham being more of a running threat and more likely to improvise. Both came out of the Clemson game without any injury issues for a change.

"As I've said all along, I will play the guy that we feel like can move our offense," Satterfield said. "I don't care who it is really, and if one is playing better than the other then he'll be the one. That will be the person who moves the offense the best. If it takes both of them, then we will play boh of them. There hasn't really been one who jumps out over the other and they have both done a lot of really great things. We have needed both in our wins this year, so I would suspect we will need both throughout the rest of the season.

"It's kind of like the last few games, really. We just wanted Evan to get in there, and then Micale comes back in. Evan goes in and went down the field a bit moving the ball. We just left him in towards the end of the game. They've both played well, although I don't think either of them played that well against Clemson."

Against the Tigers, Cunningham and Conley completed just 8-of-22 passes for 107 yards and they were sacked six times by the visitors' top-5 defense.

"If you go back on the film, there were a couple of times where they got a quick, pre-snap read," Satterfield said. "They go to a particular side and it's not there. They try to flip their feet to the other side, and we can't do that. One of them was the O-line and the others were the quarterback holding the ball. We've had that issue this year. We have to get rid of the football. We have to learn from that."


Backup running back and special teams stalwart Hassan Hall left Saturday's game in the second quarter after a 38-yard kickoff return, didn't practice Monday and Satterfield said he is listed day-to-day with a "lower body injury."

Hall is the No. 3 kick returner in the nation, averaging 38.7 yards per return, and would also be a significant loss in the backfield. He has relieved Javier Hawkins all season and has gained 307 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry with three touchdowns.

Former walk-on Maurice Burkley is the only other running back with a carry and he has just six for 27 yards. Satterfield said Burkley will move into the backup role if Hall can't play.

"A lower-half injury like Hassan has, you never know when he will be available," Satterfield said. "He's a good player for us, not only in the return game but also as a running back. It puts a little more burden on Hawkins; he has to hold down that running back spot."

Hawkins was the Cardinals' only efficient player on offense against Clemson, accounting for nearly  half their yardage with 129 yards on 26 carries.

UofL will face another stout defense in Virginia, which ranks No. 8 in the country in total defense and No. 4 in sacks, averaging four per game.

"They do a good job of containing everything and making you come inside," Satterfield said. "When they do that you're not getting those free plays to the edges. They stay on top of everything. They have two outstanding linebackers."

Clemson held the Cards to a season-low 263 yards in total offense and had just one play over 25 yards -- a 38-yard reception by Dez Fitzpatrick.


Freshman cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., who was ejected for throwing a punch in the third quarter of the Tigers' win, had plenty of time to think about it on a long trip home.

Coach Dabo Swinney told reporters in his weekly teleconference on Sunday that Booth had to ride the 450 miles back to campus on the team managers' bus, while the rest of the team flew.

"That's where it started," Swinney said. "The rest of it will be handled in-house."

Booth was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct after punching Louisville's Trenell Troutman as he lay on the ground late in the third quarter. The players clashed as Troutman ran downfield to cover a Louisville punt before Booth wrestled him to the turf and threw a punch.

Swinney sent Booth to the locker room before officials disqualified him from the game. Swinney said he apologized to Louisville Satterfield for Booth's actions. "That's not who we are," Swinney said, "and that's not who he is."


Fitzpatrick will be joined at UofL by his brother next season. Christian Fizpatrick, also a wide receiver, committed to UofL Sunday, becoming the school's 23rd commitment in the 2020 class, but only the second four-star recruit. The Fitzpatricks are from Southfield, Michigan.

The 2020 class will be able to make it official on Dec. 18 during the NCAA's early signing period.

Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at


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