Louisville finished 6-6 in the regular season in 2021. Scott Satterfield’s team in 2020 was 4-7 and in 2019 the Cards were 8-5. With each season there are movements in statistical categories and regressions in areas. Being that this team did not meet expectations we’ll begin with the regressions and finish with the improvements.
Louisville Football had it’s lowest (non-COVID) average attendance since the last year of the Steve Kragthorpe era. In 2021 Louisville averaged 43,965 fans in Cardinal Stadium, compared to 49,912 in Scott Satterfield’s 1st season in 2019. The 2021 total is the lowest average attendance for UofL Football since the 1st expansion 2010.
During 2021 no game the Cards hosted cracked the Top 15 in Stadium History.
Louisville’s Defense took a huge step backward in 2021. The Cards went from 39th in 2020 to 84th in 2021. It’s a 32.7 yard difference year over year. Considering how close Louisville was to winning so many games in 2021 this is a big deal.
|Total Defense (ypg)||401.8 (84th)||369.1 (39th)||439.9 (102nd)||483.5 (122nd)|
Louisville put together a Top 20 Passing Defense in 2020 but regressed drastically in 2021 to its worst pass defensive performance of the Satterfield era. Part of this is playing great quarterbacks like Matt Corrall, Dillon Gabriel, Sam Hartman, Devin Leary and Brennan Armstrong. But QB play in the ACC is always going to be strong. Have to be much better.
|Passing Defense (ypg)||245.1 (94th)||189.2 (17th)||234.2 (79th)||206.3 (40th)|
3rd Down Conversion %
Louisville was able to maintain its Total Offense numbers, but not on 3rd Down. The Cards dipped to its worst conversion % of the Satterfield era on 3rd Down Offensively from 34th to 74th in a year.
|3rd Down Conversion %||39.38% (74th)||44.76% (34th)||43.68% (31st)||36.36% (120th)|
Opponent First Downs
Louisville went from a Top 25 First Downs Allowed Defense to 106th. It’s the most 1st Downs allowed in the Satterfield era and approached the 2018 season totals.
|Opponent First Downs (per game)||22.5 (106th)||18.2 (21st)||22.0 (91st)||23.3 (109th)|
Opponent Red Zone Conversion %
Louisville was over 6% points worse in 2021 than 2020 in the Red Zone. Slipping to 109th.
|Opponent Red Zone Conversion %||89.13% (109th)||82.93% (57th)||84.31% (71st)||88.14% (103rd)|
Opponent Red Zone TD Conversion %
Louisville got over 4 percentage points worse in the allowed TDs in the Red Zone in 2021. A huge difference in the W-L column.
|Opponent Red Zone TD Conversion %||65.22% (99th)||60.98% (56th)||74.51% (126th)||74.58% (119th)|
Field Goal %
Louisville lost a couple of games directly related to its field goal kicking in 2021. Unfortunately James Turner did not have the season in 2021 that he did in 2020 and crucial missed kicks versus Wake Forest, Virginia and Clemson might have turned those games into Ws for the Cards. Turner also missed makeable kicks versus NC State & Kentucky but would not have changed the outcome.
|Field Goal %||66.7% (92nd)||86.7% (15th)||64.3% (99th)||83.3% (19th)|
Louisville allowed 0.4 more points per game than it did in 2020. Surprising considering how much better Louisville was in Turnover Margin, going from -12 to +2 from 2020 to 2021. It’s a slight increase, but the Cards were looking to take a step forward defensively in 2021. It didn’t happen.
|Scoring Defense (ppg)||27.0 (76th)||26.6 (49th)||33.4 (110th)||44.1 (128th)|
It’s a slight regression from 2020 of a little under 6 yards per game. But it was a decline. Not surprising with the Cards looking to replace Tutu Atwell, Dez Fitzpatrick and losing Braden Smith to injury during the year.
|Passing Offense (ypg)||238.9 (62nd)||244.2 (48th)||234.5 (65th)||211.1 (89th)|
Louisville dramatically improved its Turnover Margin posting the 1st positive turnover margin since 2017.
|Turnover Margin (season)||+2 (50th)||-12 (118th)||-1 (69th)||-12 (125th)|
Louisville dramatically turned around its fortunes in protecting Malik Cunningham. Going from 92nd to 26th.
|Sacks Allowed (Per Game)||1.5 (26th)||2.64 (92nd)||3.08 (118th)||3.58 (129th)|
Tackles for Loss Allowed
Louisville also improved at not allowing defenders into its backfield in 2021. Going from 121st to 24th.
|Tackles for Loss Allowed (Per Game)||4.75 (24th)||8.46 (121st)||9.92 (130th)||7.75 (124th)|
The Cards were able to finally get all of those passes defended to turn into INTs. Increasing its total by 5. If not for the injury to Kei’Trel Clark at NC State perhaps the Cards would have gotten a few more.
|Interceptions Gained (season)||10 (51st)||5 (80th)||7 (100th)||6 (112th)|
Red Zone Conversion %
Louisville ticked up in the Red Zone nearly 2% points.
|Red Zone Conversion %||90.48% (20th)||88.64% (31st)||81.82% (78th)||61.11% (70th)|
Red Zone Conversion TD %
Louisville increased its TD Conversion % in the Red Zone by over 3% points in 2021.
|Red Zone TD Conversion %||69.05% (23rd)||65.91% (45th)||68.18% (32nd)||36 (110th)|
Louisville increased its scoring by 2.4 points per game.
|Scoring Offense (ppg)||31.9 (40th)||29.5 (55th)||33.1 (30th)||19.8 (122nd)|
UofL moved up from 29th to 20th in Total Offense by adding 6 yards per game despite losing Javian Hawkins, Tutu Atwell, and Dez Fitzpatrick. The Cards have been surprisingly consistent in gaining yards in the Satterfield era despite changing conditions and personnel.
|Total Offense (ypg)||450.3 (20th)||444.2 (29th)||447.3 (24th)||352.6 (109th)|
The Cards rushed for 11 more yards per game despite losing Javian Hawkins from a year prior nearly matching Satterfield’s 2019 total.
|Rushing Offense (ypg)||211.33 (21st)||200.00 (29th)||212.85 (24th)||141.50 (102nd)|
2021 was the best rushing defense of the Satterfield era coming in at 76th. The total would have been much better had the Cards not allowed a year’s worst 362 yards rushing and 7 TDs in the season finale versus Kentucky.
|Rushing Defense (ypg)||156.67 (76th)||179.91 (80th)||205.77 (112th)||277.25 (127th)|
Yards Per Play
Louisville’s offense as mentioned before has been remarkably consistent producing 6.68 yards per game in 2021 compared to 6.65 yards per play in 2020 and 6.68 yards in 2019.
|Yards Per Play||6.68 (10th)||6.65 (18th)||6.68 (12th)||5.31 (98th)|
Yards Per Point
This is a nerdy stat, but it’s an efficiency measure to figure out how hard a team is working to score. The lower the better. Louisville in 2021 made big strides from 89th to 54th in Yards Per Point. For comparison Cincinnati is #1 in the country in this category at 11.0 yards per point. New Mexico is the worst team at 21.1 yards per point.
|Yards Per Point||14.1 (54th)||15.0 (89th)||13.6 (43rd)||18.8 (128th)|
Opponent 3rd Down %
Stats can lie… and they lie here. Louisville actually improved defensively on 3rd down if you look at stats. BUT the Cards gave up more than 4.3 MORE FIRST DOWNS. So we’ll list in the improvement category, but the truth is that teams just converted more often on 1st & 2nd down.
|Opponent 3rd Down Conversion %||36.20% (37th)||39.86% (57th)||38.15% (54th)||66.67% (114th)|
Louisville was able to finally get some reliable pressure on the QB when it tried in 2021. Best Sack performance since 2015.
|Sacks (Per Game)||2.5 (50th)||1.91 (82nd)||2.08 (69th)||0.92 (126th)|
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