LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - After Saturday's humbling 45-13 demolition by Kentucky, Louisville football coach Scott Satterfield is calling December a "new season" with the goal of performing much better in a bowl game.
He started the process in the locker room following the loss.
"I told them that one game doesn't define us for this season," Satterfield said. "We've had a very solid year, we've grown a lot from when we got here in January to right now."
The Cardinals (7-5) will learn their bowl destination this weekend. In the meantime, they can recharge both mentally and physically following a season in which they surprised everyone but themselves by orchestrating the biggest turnaround in the nation, from 2-10 a year ago.
Satterfield said he would give his players most of this week off before starting practice for a bowl.
"It really, for us, is going to be a new season," he said. "Put this one to bed and these next three to four weeks we'll work on fundamentals, try to get better, try to heal up and mend some spots and get ready to go win a bowl game."
While the lopsided loss to UK certainly threw cold water on a season that was highlighted by wins over Coastal Division champion Virginia and then-No. 19 Wake Forest on the road, Satterfield plans to use it as motivation -- not only for the bowl, but for next season.
"I told them, when you go through tough times, adversity like this, you have to learn from it," he said. "You taste it in your mouth. They have to carry that on, particularly to the young guys that are going to be back as we go through the offseason.
"When you have those days you don't want to go to weights, you don't want to do things right, think about this, what it feels like in this locker room so that propels you to work harder next year."
No matter how the Cards fare in the bowl game, the future looks bright. Only six seniors started against Kentucky, and the core of one of the nation's most explosive offenses -- quarterback Micale Cunningham, running back Javian Hawkins, wide receivers Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick -- should return in 2020. Furthermore, there was only one upperclassman on the two-deep chart in the offensive line, right tackle Tyler Haycraft.
"What we did this year, we've got a lot of promise with this team, a lot to build off of," Satterfield said. "We will continue to do that."
While their players are resting and taking final exams for the first semester, Satterfield and his assistants will be on the road recruiting. They won't have to stray far from home to check in with some of their prospects. And, of course, they will be competing against UK for many of those players in Louisville and the rest of Kentucky.
Satterfield was hired too late to seriously challenge the Wildcats for the 2019 recruiting class. He signed only one Louisville high school product, Manual running back Aidan Robbins, and UK wasn't recruiting him.
The Cats have commitments from two Louisville recruits in the 2020 class -- Christian Academy four-star offensive lineman John Young and Male three-star wide receiver Izayah Cummings. But Satterfield scored one coup when Butler three-star athlete Jordan Watkins decommitted from UK in October after visiting U of L, then committed to the Cards two weeks later.
Satterfield said prior to the Governor's Cup game that he didn't think the outcome would have much impact on in-state recruiting, suggesting that most prospects are more concerned about other factors.
"We're going to recruit against (UK) a lot in this state, for sure," Satterfield said. "Even in our footprint (outside of Kentucky), we're going to recruit against them. It seems like most of the guys we've tried to target, they've been on them at some point. I'm sure that's not going to change since we're sitting right here very close to each other. You're going to be trying to go after some of the same kids. It's a matter of fit for the recruits; what kind of program they want to be a part of is what it comes down to."
BECTON WINS ACC AWARD
Louisville left tackle Mekhi Becton has gotten a head start on the college football awards season by being named winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which has been given to the ACC's most outstanding blocker since 1953 by the league's head coaches and defensive coordinators.
Becton, a 6-7, 369-pound junior, was the leader of an offensive line that helped the Cards average 442.1 yards per game (38th in the FBS) and 32.7 points per game (43rd) and produced their first 1,000-yard rusher since 2010 as Hawkins gained 1,420 yards.
Becton has not allowed a sack in 628 snaps this season. He also had 60 total knockdowns in 10 games and graded above 80 percent in nine of those 10 games. He recorded a season-high seven knockdown blocks and had a 90% grade against Syracuse. For his career, he has allowed just four sacks in 2,300 snaps.
Becton is considered a top-50 prospect for next spring's NFL draft, but has not announced whether he plans to leave UofL early or not.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.