Clemson Football: Oppo Research – Louisville Cardinals

Clemson Tigers tight end Davis Allen (84) makes his way towards the end zone. The Clemson Tigers defeated the Florida State Seminoles 34-28 at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.Fsu V Clemson First1065
Clemson Tigers tight end Davis Allen (84) makes his way towards the end zone. The Clemson Tigers defeated the Florida State Seminoles 34-28 at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.Fsu V Clemson First1065 /

Let’s just forget last week happened and start fresh.  This is a big game for Clemson football with Louisville this weekend in the Valley.

Here is your preview of the Louisville Cardinals, from Louisville, Kentucky.

Head Coach Scott Satterfield is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Cardinals.  He has been mired in mediocrity for the better part of those 4 seasons.  After laying eggs early in the season, the Cardinals have rattled off 4 straight victories.  Satterfield came to Louisville after building Appalachian State into an FCS power and then entry into the FBS.  He is known for his offensive prowess.  His record at Louisville including the nine games in 2022 is 24-22.

Season at a Glance

Louisville currently sits at 6-3 on the season with wins against: UCF (20-14), South Florida (41-3), Virginia (34-17), Pitt (24-10), Wake Forest (48-21) and James Madison (34-10).  Their three losses are to: Syracuse (31-7), Florida State (35-31), and Boston College (34-33).


Offensive Coordinator Lance Taylor is in his first year running Lousiville’s offense having come over from Notre Dame where he was the run-game coordinator and running backs coach.  His experience also includes a stint in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers as the wide receivers coach and at Stanford as the running back coach.

Here is a look at the projected starters on Offense plus a couple of backups to know:

QB: Malik Cunningham – Sr. – 123-199, 1477 yards, 8 TDs, 4 Ints; 104 rush. 541 yards 11 TDs

RB: Tiyon Evans – Jr. – 74 att. 495 yds, 5 TDs

RB: Jawhar Jordan – So. – 84 att. 277 yds, 1 TD

WR: Tyler Hudson – Jr. – 46 rec. 703 yds, 1 TD

WR: Ahmari Huggins-Bruce – So. – 27 rec. 367 yds. 2 TDs

WR: Braden Smith – Sr. 13 rec. 109 yds

TE: Dez Melton – So. – 1 rec. 8 yds

HB: Marshan Ford – Jr. 23 rec. 309 yds, 2 TDs

LT:  Trevor Reid – Sr.

LG: Caleb Chandler – Sr.

C: Bryan Hudson – Jr.

RG: Adonis Boone – Sr.

RT: Renato Brown – So.

Quarterback Malik Cunningham is still one of the scariest players in the ACC.  His ability to extend plays with his feet is something all opposing defenses have to account for.  He’s a career 62% passer, which is on the low side of being considered overly accurate, but he has a lot of athletes around him as well.  However, he is the straw that stirs the drink.  And as Malik Cunningham goes, so go the Cardinals.

Do not sleep on this RB room for Louisville.  Junior Tiyon Evans is a strong back with speed.  He is a tough runner and falls forward on nearly all of his runs.  He is a good change of pace for Cunningham.  Jawhar Jordan, the backup and the kick returner is a speedster that is extremely shifty.  While it may not be the top runners that Clemson has faced so far this season, add in Cunningham, and they are a force.

The WR room is good, but not great.  Tyler Hudson, Ahmari Huggins-Bruce and Braden Smith have combined for 3 touchdowns on the season.  However, listed as a “Half-Back” is Junior Marshan Ford who has 23 receptions and 2 touchdowns.

And then we get to the tight end, Dez Melton who only has one catch for eight yards and even my eyes can tell that he is not a threat in the passing game.

The offensive line has gotten better as the season has gone on.  It is always tough to look at numbers like sacks allowed when you have a quarterback like Malik Cunningham, who holds onto the ball a little longer, while deciding whether or not he is going to take off.  But this line has fared extremely well over the four-game winning streak, and will be a challenge for the Clemson front.  Led by seniors LT Trevor Reid, LG Caleb Chandler and RG Adonis Boone.

The offense has scored 272 over 9 games for an average of 30.2  points per game. Louisville has gained 3,812 total offensive yards on the season with 1,988 coming on the ground and 1,992 through the air; for averages of 202.2 rushing and 221.3 passing for a total of 423.5 yards of total offense.


Onto the defensive side of the ball: Defensive Coordinator Bryan Brown is known as one of the up-and-coming defensive minds in all of college football.  He began leading the defense at Louisville starting in the 2019 season after stints with Delta State, Rutgers, Appalachian State and Ole Miss.  He employs a 3-4 defense, and has a defense that really flies to the ball.  This group has improved each of Brown’s four years at Louisville.

Here is a look at the projected starters for the defense:

DE: Ashton Gillotte – So. – 15 Tackles, 4 Sacks

NT: Dezmond Tell – So. – 18 Tackles, 1.5 Sacks

DE: YaYa Diaby – Sr. – 29 Tackles, 6.5 Sacks

OLB: Yasir Abdullah – Sr. – 40 Tackles, 4.5 Sacks; 2 INTs

MLB: Monty Montgomery – Sr. – 38 Tackles, 4 Sacks; 2 INTs

MLB: MoMo Sanogo – Sr. – 60 Tackles, 2.5 Sacks

OLB: Ben Perry – Fr. – 37 Tackles

CB: Chandler Jones – Sr. – 4 Tackles, 1 INT

SS: Josh Minkins – So. – 38 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 INT

FS: Kendrick Duncan – Sr. – 37 Tackles

CB: Kei’Trel Clark – Jr. –  36 Tackles, 1 INT

This defense is really good. As a team the Cardinals have 29 sacks on the season.

The defense line has athletes all across the entire front.  Led by Senior DE’s YaYa Diaby and Ashton Gillotte, they have found a knack for getting to the quarterback, leading opposing offenses to face disadvantages on passing routes, as the defense usually just sends 4, maybe 5.

MoMo Sanogo is the leader of the defense.  The senior middle linebacker leads the team in tackles and gets the defensive signals out to his teammates.  He is very fast, and extremely smart, and always seems to be in the right place for the Cards defense.  Fellow backers, Monty Montgomery and Yasir Abdullah have four interceptions between them on the season.

On the back end, junior corner Kei’Trel Clark is the star.  Only 1 Interception on the season, but he has the reputation of being a shut-down corner for the Cards.  Chandler Jones on the other side is much less heralded and offenses have found some success targeting the senior corner.  Josh Minkins and Kendrick Duncan are the safeties, and both have nearly 40 tackles on the season.

Louisville, defensively, has yielded 175 points this season for an average of 19.4 points per game.  They’ve allowed 1,552 yards on the ground for an average of 134.4 yards per game and 1,885 yards through the air for an average of 209.4.  Total defense average yards given up is 343.8.


Louisville has 26 takeaways on the season with 14 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries.  Opponents have 14 takeaways with 7 interceptions and 7 fumble recoveries against the Cardinals.  Louisville is an eye-opening +12 in the turnover margin on the season.

Special Teams

Here are the projected starters on Special Teams:

Punter: Mark Vassett – So. – 44.7 yd. avg.

Kicker: James Turner – Jr. – 14-16; long of 48

Kick Returner: Jawhar Jordan – So. – 21.5 yd. avg.

Punt Returner: Braden Smith – 3.3 yd avg.

Clemson football tries to regroup against Louisville after an atrocious performance against Notre Dame

Last week was atrocious on all fronts for the Tigers.  Dabo Swinney said as much in every one of his media availability this week.  The Tigers have their hands full with this Louisville team.  Any team that has a dynamic playmaker at the quarterback position should scare Clemson fans.

I have yet to pick against the Tigers this season, and even with the overwhelming defense that Louisville has put on the field the last two weeks, in particular, I believe Clemson will get some semblance of an offense going led by Will Shipley, and hopefully DJ Uiagalelei’s feet.