The first year of the Scott Satterfield era at Louisville went better than some expected. The Cardinals finished 8-5 in 2019, including a season-ending victory over Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl. Now, as the Cardinals began spring practice this week, Satterfield has bigger goals in mind for 2020.
Louisville returns several key players from last season's team, including their presumed starting quarterback and leading rusher. Before the spring session ends on March 28, let's take a look at some of the things to keep an eye when the Cardinals return to the field.
5 Storylines to Watch During Louisville's Spring Practice
1. Micale Cunningham
The Cardinals have a quarterback in Cunningham as he was one of the most surprising players in the ACC in 2019. In 12 games, Cunningham threw for 2,061 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only five interceptions.
Now the question is, can Cunningham take his game to the next level as the Cardinals look to make noise in the Atlantic Division? If Cunningham can continue to improve under Satterfield, there's no reason why Louisville can't improve on their eight-win total from last season.
2. Cardinals defense
While Louisville's offense should be among the best in the ACC, their defense has a ton of questions to address. In 2019, the Cardinals' defense struggled with the speed and size of teams such as Clemson, Miami, and Notre Dame. With several new players entering the program, improving the defense is a priority. So expect competition at many vital spots this spring.
3. Offensive line
Mekhi Becton and Tyler Haycraft were leaders on along the offensive line for many years. However, both Becton and Haycraft are no longer on campus, so Louisville will need to find critical starters up front.
Adonis Boone, who started two games last season including the Music City Bowl, figures to fill one of the vacant positions on the line. Satterfield also signed five offensive linemen in the 2020 recruiting class, including junior college All-American Trevor Reid. The Cardinals' lack of depth on the offensive line is still a concern, especially with all of their inexperience.
4. Defensive line
Louisville finished 69th nationally a season ago with 27 sacks. Freshman Ja'Darien Boykin, a mid-year enrollee that was part of the Cardinals' 2019 recruiting class, figures to fit into the plans next season. The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder will have to learn a new scheme and show progression during the spring. Incoming freshmen Jared Dawson, Dezmond Tell, Yaya Diaby, and Henry Bryant also will be added to the defensive line mix this spring.
No one wants to talk about kickers until their favorite team needs one. Louisville is replacing both specialists following the graduation of kicker Blanton Creque and punter Mason King. The Cardinals signed highly rated kicker Brock Travelstead, and he is expected to compete with Ryan Chalifoux this spring for the starting job.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.