LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Since a three-alarm first half stumble against Ole Miss in the season opener, the Louisville football team has steadied itself admirably.
It took care of business against Eastern Kentucky. It upset Central Florida at home. And last week, it dominated Florida State in the first half before holding on for a 31-23 win. Now sitting at 3-1, the Cardinals will travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to face arguably the hottest team in the ACC.
Wake Forest is off to a 4-0 start after a 37-17 win at Virginia last week and has moved into the Associated Press poll at No. 24. For the Cardinals, it'll be a chance for their first win on the road against a ranked team since Oct. 12, 2019, when the Cardinals went to Wake Forest and beat the No. 19 Demon Deacons, 62-59.
For a second-straight week, Louisville lost a key starter in Saturday's win. Wideout Braden Smith, who also handled punt returns, suffered torn knee ligaments and will miss the rest of the season. That comes after the program announced that Monty Montgomery suffered a season-ending knee injury in the win over UCF a week prior.
Cardinals coach Scott Satterfield met with reporters Monday to take a look back, a look ahead and to set the stage for a significant game week for the Cardinals.
LOOKING BACK: "I thought the first half we played an outstanding game really in all phases. The last drive before halftime was disappointing. And then in the second half — before halftime I was a little disappointed defensively, allowed them to come down pretty quickly and score on that, to kind of get back in the game — and then in the second half I thought our defense played well. Offense didn't do a lot in the second half at all. Just couldn't get any momentum. Didn't get any drives. Poor execution. Just a lot of different things that went into the second half. But nevertheless, fought hard and got a good road win against, I think, Florida State has talent, no question about it, and I thought they played better. If you think about, turnover-wise, they didn't have a turnover until the very last play they had offensively. Watching them play Wake Forest, they did have a lot of turnovers (six in the game), missed handoffs and did some crazy stuff. So they did play better, and I thought our defense played better in the second half."
LOOKING AHEAD: "We're excited about moving forward. Wake Forest this week. I think every year, Wake Forest is one of the most well-coached teams that you're going to play. Coach (Dave) Clawsen and his staff, they do a great job. I've been battling with Coach Clawson for many years, all the way back to when he was at Richmond and they came to App State to play us in the playoffs one time. Then he was at Bowling Green when I was at Toledo. So just a lot of respect for him and what he does with his program. He always gets a lot out of his players. They're playing at a high level right now, really in all three phases. They have a veteran team right now, a team that guys have been around for a while. A lot of the same faces we've seen the past one, two or three years. The same guys are playing, you know. One of the things they've done well again this year is the turnover margin. I feel like every year they do a great job with that. Very efficient on offense. Take care of the football. (QB Sam) Hartman is playing at a high level right now operating their offense. And defensively, they're very aggressive. They're getting after it. They're playing some man, and linebackers are downhill, and D-line is getting after it. They're playing hard. And they're very efficient in the special teams. A lot of momentum/ They're undefeated down there and got ranked this week in the Top 25. Kind of similar to what happened two years ago. We went down and played them and they were a ranked team, and it was a great football game if you like offense. We just played these guys our last game last year, as well. I think there's a lot of familiarity between the two teams, because a lot of the same players who played in that game are playing now. It should be a great matchup. Looking forward to going down there and playing."
SETTING THE TONE, after being asked about a game with a share of first-place in the ACC Atlantic division on the line: "We don't worry about all that. We worry about Wake Forest. If you start thinking about all the other stuff and all that, then you're not focusing on what needs to be focused on, and that's the team we've got to play this week. So we're looking at tomorrow's practice and having the best Tuesday we can have. And that's how you have to look it it. Alumni, media and all the people can look at all the other stuff and talk about it. It's fun to talk, but that's stuff doesn't really matter. This is our fifth game. It's our second ACC game. And we've got to go play as good as we can possibly play is to beat Wake Forest. That's the bottom line. I think one thing it does show you in the first four weeks is that the parity in college football is real, and if you don't show up, you'll get beat. It doesn't matter who you are. Minnesota got beat by Bowling Green this weekend as a 30-point favorite. It doesn't matter. Clemson loses to N.C. State. Every single week, you're going to see examples of this. If a team doesn't show up they're going to lose. It's awesome, because this sport is incredibly great and I think the fans love that part about it, and this year more than ever, it's up for grabs. The team that prepares the best week-in and week-out and performs, will have the opportunity to win their conference and go to a great bowl or to the playoffs. But you have to stay in the moment and stay focused on the team you're playing."
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