5 things to watch as Scott Satterfield opens Louisville football's fall camp

Louisville opened fall camp a little later than most football most programs because it opens the season on a Monday night, at home Sept. 2 against No. 9 Notre Dame.

But all the summer work has been done to launch Scott Satterfield's first season at the helm. There are a lot of questions still to be answered for a team that finished 2-10 last year. 

With plenty of story lines to watch, we’ll outline the most pressing.   

Running back depth 

Though the Cardinals rushing game didn’t catch the eye of many last season, Satterfield is excited about the corps of backs. Hassan Hall is leading the pack and is joined by Javian Hawkins, Maurice Burkley, Dae Williams and local freshman Aidan Robbins.  

In Saturday’s press conference, Satterfield called the running back corps an early strength of the team.  

"I’m really excited about the running back room and the tight end room,” Satterfield said.  

Hall, who is up to 202 pounds according to Satterfield, is the starter and got rave reviews from the head coach. But he also noted Hawkins, Williams and Robbins as players who could surprise people. Robbins did not compete during the spring after rehabbing from a torn labrum he suffered his senior year at Manual High School.  

"I would hate to be a defensive player and have to tackle him because we timed him this spring at a 4.52 at 230 pounds. He is a load coming in there,” Satterfield said of Robbins.  

More:Satterfield excited for camp, ready to piece puzzle of Louisville's team together

Because of the focus on the running game in Satterfield’s offenses, how the running back rotation shapes out will be crucial. If there is depth there, the Cardinals could use multiple backs.  

“We can have a fresh back in the game at all times,” Satterfield said.  

Jawon Pass or Malik Cunningham at quarterback? 

The biggest storyline of camp will surround the quarterback position. Pass and Cunningham, who both spent time at the position last season, are competing for the starting spot. If one has surpassed the other, Satterfield has not tipped his hand.  

Many expect Pass to be the first option, but Satterfield said he has seen good things from both players. 

“I have a lot of confidence in both of them,” Satterfield said. "… It’s going to come down to decision making. It’s always going to be that way. In this offense you have to make good decisions."

Read this:Pass, Cunningham battling at QB as Louisville depth chart is released

While Pass is the more prototypical quarterback, throwing for 1,960 yards, eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season, Satterfield said he also sees good mobility from the junior. Cunningham is the more mobile of the two, leading the team in rushing last season with 536 yards, but Satterfield has seen in improvement in his passing ability.  

Regardless of the decision, which Satterfield is not rushing, it’s likely each player will be on the field at some point this season.  

"They are both really good players, I think,” Satterfield said. “They don’t need to be standing beside me, so we have to find ways to get them on the field and play.” 

Offensive line growth

In his press conference, Satterfield mentioned the importance of the offensive line multiple times.  

"The big question mark is the o-line and how well will they come together,” Satterfield said. “If they do, I think we can have a really good year offensively.” 

The question mark for that group is based on its depth issues. Starting left tackle Mekhi Becton is likely an NFL talent and the team has other capable guys across the line, but there’s not much behind them. And many are unproven.  

Offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford is known for his ability to maximize an offensive line’s talent. He did it at Appalachian State and N.C. State before coming to Louisville. If the Cardinals are going to have success this season, they will need improvement from the offensive line this year, as well.

Read this:Ledford's plan at U of L hasn't changed: break bread, build men and win

Last season Louisville ran for just 1,698 yards, second-to-last in the conference, and gave up 43 sacks.  

It might not be the flashy position to watch, but how the offensive linemen grow will be crucial this summer.  

Newcomers/grad students

The entire 2019 class, excluding non-qualifiers Jamel Starks and Ja’Darien Boykin, reported for camp on the first day. A few of the newcomers, transfers included, will have a chance to earn playing time early in their Louisville careers.  

"We will get a true feel for these guys and see how they fit in our program,” Satterfield said. “We have added six transfers that will give us depth and maybe even start.”  

Looking back:Patriot League defensive MVP T.J. Holl will transfer to Louisville

Transfer defensive lineman Ty Tyler, linebacker TJ Holl and safety Isaiah Hayes are three transfers who could make their way onto the field early in the season.  

Much of the newcomers' impact is still unknown, but where they fit onto the depth chart will be something to keep an eye on.  

Defensive line

Satterfield said when he looks at the depth chart, he sees at least eight defensive linemen who could rotate in and out for this season.  

That’s plenty of depth for the Cardinals in their new 3-4 scheme.  

Defensive ends Amonte Caban and Tabarius Peterson, and nose tackle G.G. Robinson are likely to start, but there are others behind them

"[Jared] Goldwire is going to give us a lot of depth at nose tackle and Peterson has a lot of talent there,” Satterfield said. 

Also:Dorian Etheridge optimistic about Louisville's defense heading into fall camp

But there’s also Tyler, Malik Clark, Jarrett Jackson, Derek Dorsey and Sayna Kinniard, who could find their way into that rotation.  

There will be plenty of competition along the defensive line. Expect that to shape up as the season comes closer. 

Cameron Teague Robinson CTeagueRob@gannett.com; Twitter: @cj_teague; Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.