Cameron Teague Robinson, Louisville Courier Journal Published 8:26 a.m. ET Sept. 13, 2020 | Updated 1:44 p.m. ET Sept. 13, 2020
Louisville coach Scott Satterfield likes the way his team took care of business against Western Kentucky to start the year 1-0. Louisville Courier Journal
Louisville’s game against Western Kentucky was the team’s first in the COVID-19 era.
With 11,179 fans in the stands, just under the 12,000 capacity, there were examples of the new normal everywhere.
Everybody on the field had a mask on when not playing, as did the coaches and any staff members. Interviews on the field were done at a distance with coach Scott Satterfield standing at a stationary mic stand.
Even the sounds were different. Though not as loud as it would’ve been if Cardinal Stadium was filled near its 60,800-person capacity, the teams agreed on an in-game background noise level. That included music and crowd noise.
But when the game began, there wasn’t much thought. It was football, and Louisville defeated Western Kentucky 35-21. Satterfield said the only thing that felt weird to him was his mask.
“That’s not breaking news, but it’s hard to breath out there with the mask,” Satterfield said. “It was humid out there, it was rainy and your mask gets wet. It’s a little bit challenging doing it that way, but I liked (the bench being extended) to the 15-yard line, you get some more room on the sideline. But once you kick the football off, it’s football. It was fun to get out there and compete.”
Louisville will continue to test three times a week, once every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday as the season continues. It will host Miami (1-0) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and will be the site of ESPN’s “College GameDay” football show.
Is there a more efficient player on Louisville’s roster than Ean Pfeifer? There might not be. The tight end, a graduate transfer from Vanderbilt, has caught three passes in his career and each one has been for a touchdown.
He caught two last year, one against Miami and one against NC State.He scored the first touchdown of the year with 10:57 time left in the quarter Saturday, a 28-yard pass from quarterback Micale Cunningham.
With that catch, he became the first player in Louisville history to score a touchdown on each of his first three receptions.
Newcomer Braden Smith, a transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College, had a record-setting debut for the Cardinals tallying 110 yards. He’s the first receiver since Deion Branch in 2000 to record 100 yards or more in his Louisville debut.
Louisville defense starts season strong
Louisville’s defense has been the hot topic all offseason with many understanding if the defense took a step forward, it would help the Cardinals jump into the ACC’s elite.
Well, Saturday, they opened the season with a strong performance.
The defense gave up just 248 yards, the lowest total against a FBS opponent since giving up 150 against Kent State in 2017. It also contained the Western Kentucky offense, giving up just 4.3 yards per play and forcing the Hilltoppers to convert just 4 of-12 on third down.
Linebacker Dorian Etheridge said he thought this was a byproduct of Louisville’s defense playing fast and free in its second year under defensive coordinator Bryan Brown.
“We’ve been focused in, focused in,” Etheridge said. “We’re trying to change the narrative of our defense, and it starts with every game. We’ve been fine-tuning the little things.”
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