It’s only 100 days until the Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on the Louisville Cardinals at Cardinal Stadium. This year’s season opener will be taking place in primetime Labor Day evening to cap off the holiday weekend. Both programs have a lot of work to do before the College Football Season commences. For Brian Kelly and the Irish, they are looking to maintain their recent excellence and make it back to the Playoffs. The Cardinals on the other hand are looking for the upset and first win of the Scott Satterfield Era.
Today we’re taking a very early look at this year’s opener versus the Cardinals for a rare bit of Notre Dame Monday night football.
- Game Time: September 2nd at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN
- Location: Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky
- Matchup: Louisville leads the all-timer series 1-0 (last meeting was 2014: Louisville won 31-28)
Louisville Scouting Report:
- Conference: ACC (Atlantic Division)
- Head Coach: Scott Satterfield
- 2018 Record: 2-10
- 2017 Record: 8-5
Early Louisville Storylines:
Lamar Jackson Era has long passed. Just a few years ago the Cardinals were one of the most explosive football teams in the country. In 2016, Louisville defeated #2 Florida State 63-20 and looked unstoppable on both sides of the ball. Later that season, the Cardinals were ranked #3 in the country and lost to #5 Clemson in Death Valley by a mere 6 points. Yes, Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy, but the team had several other playmakers on the roster.
New Head Coach Scott Satterfield takes over. Satterfield has been the Head Coach at Appalachian State for the past 6 seasons. In 2014, Appalachian State joined the FBS officially as they entered the Sun Belt Conference. Satterfield’s overall record for the Mountaineers was 51-24, which featured 3 Sun Belt Championships along with the Sun Belt Coach of the year last season.
Satterfield had also led Appalachian State to 3 straight bowl wins. Last season he almost led the Mountaineers to a monumental upset against Penn State, but fell just short in overtime.
Early Notre Dame Storylines:
What Linebackers will be starting Week 1? The biggest storyline heading into the season is who will replace Drue Tranquill and Te’Von Coney. Fortunately for the Irish, there are a lot of names in the mix. Clark Lea will be trying a variety of linebackers in weeks 1 and 2, as the Irish prepare for the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens.
Sustained Excellence. Brian Kelly has led the Irish to a 22-4 mark the last two seasons, with only 1 home loss. Unfortunately, most of the marquee matchups this fall will almost all take place away from South Bend. If the Irish want to remain in the College Football Playoff discussion throughout the season, they will need to get key victories on the road, starting at Cardinal Stadium in 100 days.
College Football fans learned last season that it’s not always the ranked teams that can knock you out of the playoffs. Ohio State finished the regular season with a 12-1 record and Big Ten Championship. However, a blowout loss to Purdue cost them a spot in the playoffs. Although the Irish will be highly favored, they cannot afford to overlook a single opponent in 2019.
When Summer Camp Begins:
Notre Dame Defense: The Fighting Irish will bring back two of the best pass-rushers in the country in 2019 via Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara. Mike Elston has done a tremendous job of recruiting at the defensive line the past several seasons. The depth and future talent that is coming into South bend has turned what was the biggest weakness on the team in 2016 into one of the major strengths in 2019.
Notre Dame Offense: Who will be the big newcomer to the Irish Offense this fall? Chase Claypool, Chris Finke, Cole Kmet, and Michael Young all have the experience. But which receiver will make a leap forward for Chip Long and the Notre Dame Offense? If Notre Dame wants speed and a deep threat, the two most potential candidates are Braden Lenzy and kevin Austin Jr.
One of the major differences in the Cotton Bowl was Clemson’s ability to score on a single play. Several deep balls gave the Clemson Tigers quick scores in the game and helped them separate themselves from the Fighting Irish.
Chip Long also has a plethora of outstanding tight ends accompanying Cole Kmet. Brock Wright was an elite prospect out of high school but has yet to make a major impact on the field. Tommy Tremble and George Takacs also have the potential to see action this fall at the tight end position.
Special Teams: The Irish will be losing 4-year starter Justin Yoon. Yoon set the school record for most points in the history of Notre Dame Football. Justin Yoon was a consistent kicker for Brian Kelly and the Irish. Expect Jonathan Doerer to take over all the field goal kicking duties this fall.
Tyler Newsome is also another special teams player that Irish fans have been accustomed to watching punt. He even had one of the best games of his career in the Cotton Bowl. True-Freshman Jay Bramblett, a top recruit from Tuscaloosa, is expected to become the next Irish punter.
Final Thoughts (for now):
Notre Dame heading to Louisville is a perfect test for Brian Kelly and Notre Dame. The Irish will have the opportunity to beat an ACC school on the road, Labor Day evening. Louisville is coming off an awful season, but this will be a hostile environment for the Irish as Cardinal fans will be witnessing the first game of the Scott Satterfield Era. While the Fighting Irish are the superior team on paper, anything can happen on the road in college football.
As far as my prediction for this game, I’ll leave that for the weekly primer this fall.