Louisville football coach Scott Satterfield talks about his team heading to Miami Saturday.
Dominique Yates, Louisville Courier Journal
For the first time since 2014, a double-bye format occurred for every FBS college football team in the country.
When a bye week comes, coaches usually find ways to spin the off days into a positive for their teams.
“We have no control over how the byes are going to happen,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said.
Despite entering this most recent off week as one of the hottest teams in the ACC, Louisville couldn’t have asked for a betterscenario. Each bye came after four games, basically breaking the season into thirds for the coaching staff.
It allowed the staff to plan out how they want to redshirt or juggle playing time among freshmen, since only quarterback Evan Conley has played in more than four games.
Louisville spent much of its time during the week in the training room rehabbing injuries. The Cardinals have been relatively healthy this season but lost kicker Blanton Creque to a torn left anterior cruciate ligament.
Louisville will get one of the most dynamic kick returners in the country, Hassan Hall, back from injury on Saturday. Hall played sparingly against Virginia, carrying the ball four times but did not take a kickoff.
“This point in the season, everybody’s beat up, every team’s beat up. You know, this point in time where you love to be able to have some depth and play up some more guys. But it came at a great time for us to heal up some of the guys,” Satterfield said. “Blanton’s (Creque) out, our kicker. You can’t heal that up, kind of injury he had, but as far as just bruises and those type of things.”
Getting healthy was Louisville’s main focus during the bye week as it prepares for a crucial stretch that could determine their postseason plans.
“Guys really took advantage of that last week living in the training room and I, you know, again last night it showed everybody flying around froggy, you know, feeling good and I think that’s what the bye is all about in this point in time of the season,” Satterfield said.
Louisville has had just one discussion about its bowl hopes. Satterfield addressed the topic with his team openly on Sunday, but it wasn’t to set a goal.
“I brought it up and said, ‘Look everybody knows we’re at five wins and you guys get another one, we are going bowling. We all applaud that and we all want that, but we must focus everything on Miami,’” Satterfield said. “Everyone’s focus is on Miami and the things we are doing right now.”
Louisville has to like its chances to make a bowl game, needing to win just one of its next four games to get eligibility. Plus, Satterfield is 19-5 in the month of November, losing more than one game just once in his head-coaching career.
While Satterfield has seen immense success in the final month of the season, he’s been even better after bye weeks. In his career he’s 9-1 after a bye week, including this year’s 41-39 win over Boston College. His only loss came in 2014 in the form of a 21-20 loss to Southern Miss.
This year, Louisville’s first bye week came in the last week of September. It followed that with a win against Boston College, which was the first sign that Louisville’s offense had explosive power. It was also the first game Satterfield turned to his two-quarterback system.
Don’t expect a change there. Micale Cunningham will start on Saturday and Conley will earn playing time, as has been the case for the last month. Both were banged up heading into the bye week but didn’t suffer any setbacks.
“The bye week was great for those guys,” Satterfield said. “I think it was great that neither of them got any setbacks in the Virginia game and both those guys were healthy out of that. Last night they were both running around feeling good.”
There’s always the argument that bye weeks can throw off a team’s rhythm. But if you ask Louisville, which won three of its last four games and is in third place in the ACC, the off week came at the right time.