Hassan Hall

Hassan Hall has gained nearly 20 pounds but said he remains one of the three fastest guys on the Louisville roster. WDRB Photo/Rick Bozich

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Hassan Hall will wear No. 19 for the University of Louisville football team this season. You don’t have to be Brian Brohm to remember the name of the guy who threatened to get that number retired.

His name was Michael Bush, and Bush thundered for 1,143 yards and 23 touchdowns during the 2005 season.

This is how many yards Louisville’s six running backs gained as a group last season: 1,082.

This is how many touchdowns those running backs scored: 10.

Bush does not live at Cardinal Stadium anymore. Neither does Anthony Shelman. Nor Eric Shelton. Nor Kolby Smith. Nor Frank Moreau. Nor Walter Peacock.

Nor Brandon Radcliff.

Nor Bilal Powell.

Nor any back with a 1,000-yard season in his pedigree.

"These guys know the quarterback has pretty much led the team in rushing (since 2014),” Louisville running backs coach Norval McKenzie said. “For us, I would love to see a running back get 1,000 yards. We’ll start talking about season goals when it’s time. I think right now in August camp, we’ll just focus on getting better.”

Norval McKenzie

Louisville assistant coach Norval McKenzie is aware of the gap between 1,000-yard rushers at Louisville. WDRB Photo/Rick Bozich.

I mentioned Radcliff and Powell for a reason.

Radcliff was the last halfback to lead the Cardinals in rushing and did it with only 737 yards in 2014.

Powell was the last Louisville halfback to rush for more than 1,000 yards — powering for 1,405 for Charlie Strong in 2010.

Powell is a name worth discussing. So is Strong.

Scott Satterfield has taken charge at U of L, trying to upgrade the toughness, culture and productivity of the offense with a more determined running game

Strong tried to do a similar thing in 2010 after he took over from Steve Kragthorpe. Strong succeeded. Powell helped him succeed.

In 2009, nobody on the Cardinals’ roster ran for 500 yards. Powell ranked third in rushing (with 392 yards), trailing Victor Anderson and Darius Ashley.

In 2010, Powell changed that, finishing second in the Big East in rushing. Louisville improved from 4-8 to 7-6.

The New York Jets drafted him in the fourth round, and Powell remains in training camp today, trying to maintain his roster spot for the ninth consecutive season.

Satterfield will not run the same offense that Strong ran at Louisville. But the word is the new coaching staff will emphasize the same qualities that made Strong’s program capable of winning games at Louisville.

“The offense is run through us,” Hall said. “It ain’t no secret. We’ve got to be on our stuff so we can win games.”

“You’ve got to love that as a running back — that you’re going to run the ball 20 or 25 times a game,” McKenzie said.

The offense will be expected to control the line of scrimmage and attack with halfbacks who run the football with authority.

Not quarterbacks.

Running backs.

“I think, in our offense, as much as we want to run the ball, you’re going to have to have multiple guys play,” McKenzie said. “I think if we have 80 plays in the game, I don’t think we’ll have one guy take 80 snaps, especially how run-heavy we’re going to be. Two or three guys is what I’ve played in the past.”

Guys like Hall, who will wear Bush’s No. 19 this season.

A sophomore who played high school football in Atlanta, Hall did not watch Bush perform at Male High School or Louisville. But Hall researched Bush on the internet, knew the number Bush wore and quickly discovered that power and determination were Bush’s calling cards, especially around the goal line.

“I went to watch his highlights,” Hall said. “He was a big back. He was great.”


Hall is not Bush. He arrived at U of L weighing less than 180 pounds. His work in the weight room and the training table has enabled Hall to pack nearly 200 pounds on his 6-foot frame.

Speed defines Hall’s game, speed that Hall said has not been diminished by the additional weight.

“I feel faster,” Hall said. “The weight don’t slow you down. It’s muscle. It’s not fat. It’s not really slowing you down.

“When we practice, and they hit me ... last year, I was falling ... this year, I’m keeping my balance.”

Back to the other No. 19. Hall said when fans notice that he is on social media, they will mention Bush to him.

“They say he lives somewhere around here,” Hall said. “Get him up here for me.”

If  Hall can break off some Bush runs, I’m certain that will be arranged.

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