LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Scott Satterfield started talking, but the sound wasn’t coming through. The microphone at his postgame news conference following Saturday’s 41-3 win over South Florida hadn’t yet been turned on.

Could he start over? Someone joked after the switch was flipped, and he said, “Start back over? I will. I will start it back over.”

And he did (see the video below). Football seasons aren’t as easy to restart as news conferences, alas. But if ever a team needed a game like the Cardinals experienced Saturday it was this one.

And if ever a coach needed the damn microphone to work to spread a positive message, it was this coach on this day.

"Is it good now?" were the words that boomed out after Satterfield's mic was switched on. I don't know if it was good, but it was better.

Satterfield’s Louisville team needed to ease into the 2022 season. It needed to wade around in the shallow water. It needed to spend some time at base camp.

Instead, it started the season on the road. It jumped into the deep end. It came back home to face a Florida State team with whom it was evenly matched. It wasn’t until Week 4 that Louisville got to take a breath and gain some confidence.

By now, most Power 5 teams have had a couple of games like Louisville experienced Saturday to get their bearings and bolster their confidence (not to mention their won-lost record). Until Saturday, Louisville had not had that luxury, and they had the angry Tweets to prove it.

This season for Louisville has been like one of those classes where you show up expecting to get the syllabus and a quick intro and realize the professor had already assigned two books to read and was giving a quiz.

With much of the college football world still in a cupcake coma, Louisville emerges from the first third of its season with a 2-2 record, 0-2 in the ACC, and still trying to figure out who it needs to talk to about this scheduling thing.

The rest of us are trying to figure out if this team can be improved, or if it has already missed the moment that would’ve paved the way for a better record than it had a year ago.

We know Malik Cunningham can put up big numbers. He did it again on Saturday, with 113 yards rushing and 3 TDs, along with 186 yards passing and another score. He became just the 8th FBS quarterback ever to pass for 8,000 yards and run for 3,000 in a career.

“Kudos to me, I guess,” Cunningham said after the game when told that. “I just give credit to my teammates for opening up the holes for me and blocking out the field. Without them, I couldn’t do a lot of those things. I'm blessed to be in that position.”

He'd rather have beaten Florida State.

If Saturday’s win over USF was a get-well game, the question is how long the remedy will last for a Louisville team that has proven adept at getting back off the mat, but less at sustaining success.

“We needed this one bad,” Cunningham said. “. . . It is the start of something good. . . . We’re going to get this thing back on the road.”

Let's not cue the Willie Nelson just yet.

Those are all sentiments Louisville fans would like to get behind. But by now, they’ve had that hope beaten down before. The team is going to have to prove it is possible, starting Saturday with an ACC road game against a Boston College team that lost at Florida State 44-14 on Saturday night to fall to 1-3.

It's the kind of game Louisville absolutely must win if it hopes to build momentum, and log improvement, for tougher tests later in the year.

A year ago at this time, Louisville was 4-1. After a lopsided loss to Ole Miss to open the season, the Cardinals recorded three straight wins, over EKU, UCF and Florida State. It was the first and only time the program has won 3 straight games under Satterfield.

Now would be a good time to do that again.

The confidence gained on Saturday is a good start in that direction.

“It proves that if you go out and don’t beat yourselves, you have a great opportunity,” Satterfield said. “South Florida is a team that has ability and talent. We saw that last week. We came out and dominated the game. It was 28 first downs to 11 and a lot of yards (542) to not very many (158). I thought our guys were focused and played that way. It proved we can do it. With commitment each and every week to come out and stay focused on the task at hand. When we are like that, then it is more about us than who we are playing.”

That much, it would seem, is true. With potentially 5 games against nationally ranked teams looming ahead on the schedule, I’d argue that it’s at least a little bit about who Louisville is playing. But having never really seen what this team operating at a high level in all phases looks like, who knows if a surprise might be looming?

I guess that’s what sells season tickets.

For Satterfield, the stakes for the rest of the season are, in all seriousness, higher than a tank of premium gas. It’s not enough to keep getting knocked down and getting back up. At some point, the whole enterprise needs to be the one to do the knocking, to beat some teams nobody expects them to beat, to get out of the close-loss habit.

Maybe Saturday was a start. But it was not starting over. This team needs to start building on the foundation it has laid. And it will have no better opportunity to do that than in the games coming up.

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