Satterfield eager to showcase Cards vs. Ole Miss

Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield and the Cardinals open the season Monday against Mississippi.

For a coach whose team is coming off a 4-7 season and is picked to finish near the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference again this year, Louisville’s Scott Satterfield seems awfully excited to be facing a Top-25 team right off the bat.

He’s either delusional or knows a lot more about the Cardinals’ prospects than anybody else who has weighed in with their outlook. We’ll know if Satterfield’s optimism is justified after Monday’s battle against Ole Miss in Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta on ESPN at 8 p.m.

The Rebels have created some buzz with their high-powered offense and have been ranked in several preseason polls, including No. 25 in the USA Today coaches rankings. They had defensive issues during a 5-5 season in 2020, but compensated with a prolific passing game and wound up No. 3 nationally in total offense with an average of 555.5 yards per game. They averaged 39.2 ppg, 14th in the FBS.

Ole Miss started 1-4 last year under new coach Lane Kiffin, but regrouped to win four of its last five games.

“We’re very excited. . .Obviously a great opportunity to showcase our program and our school on national TV,” Satterfield said Monday during a media teleconference. “We’re playing a team that’s been talked about a lot in the offseason, a Top-25 team, an SEC team, and you’re the only (college football) game on TV.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase where we are, showcase what kind of players we have, how much fight we’re going to have, and all those things. I think it’s a great chance to show all that.”

Most teams in Power 5 conferences prefer to work out some of the early kinks against a low major program or an FCS opponent before diving into better competition. But UofL has been the exception recently. Before hosting Western Kentucky in last year’s debut, the Cards had faced Notre Dame, Alabama, Purdue, Auburn and Miami in five of its previous six openers. And Satterfield likes it that way.

“This is a big-time game opposed to playing a smaller team, an FCS team or something, to start the season off,” he said. “We’re primetime spotlight. Let’s go, let’s showcase what we have. Our guys are fired up.”

Satterfield said the Cards planned to play a mock game Monday night, focusing on pre-game details as well as Ole Miss, and added that he was happy with their progress in fall camp despite stifling heat and humidity.

“They had a really good camp,” he said. “It was hot — the last two weeks were really hot — and we had to battle some lightning and a lot of distractions as far as weather goes. But our players did not slow down in anything they did. They continued to fight and practice hard. The focus was there and that tells you they’re in tune with what’s happening.

“I feel good about our first units, really all the way across the board, offense defense and kicking game. I think we do have a lot of players who can help. We have a lot of team speed. We’ve got some young guys, but they can run, and they’re in the mix.”

Satterfield said “everybody” is available at this point, including key safety Josh Minkins, who Satterfield said “has worked his way back” from a shoulder injury suffered in early January. He added that Minkins has returned earlier than expected.

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