LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The first full Saturday of the 2019 college football season is 208 days away, and we've got some stuff to talk about.
The fresh air of the Scott Satterfield era begins in Louisville, Kentucky comes back from an unforgettable 10-win season and Indiana fans are wondering if their Hoosiers will ever take that big leap forward.
Below is a bookmark-worthy look ahead to the 2019 season, with team schedules, light overviews, games to watch, an early Top 10 and much more. Enjoy!
UofL preview (By Kent Taylor | Follow on Twitter)
The Cards will open spring practice about a month earlier than usual when they take the field on Feb. 11.
Scott Satterfield's biggest job is developing a winning mindset and attitude among a group that went 2-10 in 2018, losing its last nine games.
He and his staff also need to find a quarterback. Puma Pass and Malik Cunningham showed flashes last season, but will either fit into the offense the Cards want to run?
New offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford has similar issues with his line. A much-maligned group over the last few seasons, there figures to be competition across the board.
Defensively, the Cards were historically bad in 2018. Confidence will come from demonstrated performance and with Notre Dame up first on the schedule on Sept. 2, that could take some time.
The goal should be simple: Get to a bowl game, something UofL fans have taken for granted in the last couple of decades.
UofL preview, Part 2 (By Jody Demling | Follow on Twitter)
New head coach Scott Satterfield starts the rebuilding process of the Louisville football program on Feb. 11 with the first spring practice. There are plenty of questions in front of the staff as they begin the 15 practices.
The biggest question is on offense and who will be the starting quarterback? While I still think the staff will add a graduate transfer at some point, Jawon Pass, Malik Cunningham or Evan Conley will emerge as the starter coming out of spring ball, and I firmly believe even the staff has no idea which of the three prospects will excel in the Satterfield offense.
Hassan Hall and Colin Wilson are the two guys to watch closely at running back, while the tight end spot is also interesting. Will the staff move one or more players from another position to the tight end spot? At this point, Jordan Davis is the lone scholarship tight end on the roster.
Bryan Brown will have some similar issues with big questions on the defensive side of the ball. With a new system for the fourth straight season, the spring practices will be a key step in the process for the Cardinals’ on the defensive side of the ball.
Who will emerge as the linebackers alongside Dorian Etheridge, and which players on the front will push for playing time?
It’s time for spring ball and it’s a lot of unanswered questions for Satterfield and his staff.
UK preview (By Kendrick Haskins | Follow on Twitter)
After a season UK fans will never forget, 2019 is filled with both potential and question marks. The Cats will have to replace the school’s all-time leading rusher in Benny Snell, as well as arguably UK's best-ever pass rusher in Josh Allen. Many of Allen's teammates from a stout defensive unit have moved on as well.
On offense, expect Lynn Bowden’s role to increase in 2019. The receiver/kick returner was the Cats’ leading receiver in 2018, and without a doubt, the team’s home-run hitter along with Snell. With the departures of Snell and tight end CJ Conrad, Bowden likely be the sequel to Randall Cobb. With his explosiveness and versatility, you can line him up in a variety of positions and challenge SEC defenses.
Defensively, with Allen playing on Sundays, look for Kash Daniel to have a monster senior year. He was the team’s third-leading tackler in 2018, and is a born leader. The secondary will be very young with the losses of Jordan Jones and Chris Westry. Linebacker Deandre Square had a great Citrus Bowl, racking up six tackles in UK's defeat of Penn State, and sophomore Davonte Robinson had a solid sophomore year in the secondary, and will be called upon to make plays.
Another year in offensive coordinator Eddie Gran’s scheme should make quarterback Terry Wilson a more confident signalcaller. Running backs Kavosiey Smoke and Asim Rose will be tabbed to make up for Snell’s production. If Daniel and Square can continue their progression, and Wilson can become more comfortable with the offense, the Cats could be in the thick of the SEC East race again.
Kentucky produced a hype video/Super Bowl ad that looks ahead to the 2019 season that you can watch below:
Games To Watch (By John P. Wise | Follow on Twitter)
There is usually a longer list of exciting September games to choose from, but thanks to high-profile teams wanting to protect their perfect records, it looks like we're trending back toward Cupcake City.
Anyway, the Week 1 neutral-site offerings seem decent on paper: Auburn vs. Oregon (at Orlando) and Florida vs. Miami (Dallas). Neither game will feature a team expected to make a serious run at the playoff (calm down, Gator fans), but Oregon’s Justin Herbert is the sport’s top quarterback that you still haven’t seen, and it’s always fun to see Florida rivals duke it out.
Week 2′s top tilts include LSU at Texas and Texas A&M at Clemson. On paper these games appear sexy, but both LSU and Texas could go 6-6 and Clemson could put up 70 on its guests.
Or maybe since this is the “Games To Watch” section, we should tell you that those games will all be very exciting.
Notre Dame and Michigan renew their rivalry in Week 8, which is weird timing, but we’re more intrigued by the Irish making their return visit to Athens, Ga., to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Week 4. Remember when Georgia took over Notre Dame Stadium in 2017? Both teams will be CFP contenders again this year and everyone in America will be rooting for Georgia to put the Irish out of that conversation before we even reach October.
Early Top 10 (By John P. Wise)
3-10: It doesn’t matter.
2. Alabama: It’s been nine thousand years since ‘Bama wasn’t preseason No. 1, but that’s just fine with Nick Saban, whose Tide will reload as it always does and cruise to a sixth straight berth in the College Football Playoff.
1. Clemson: Speaking of re-loading, there’s only one team in college football that can do it as good as Alabama does, and it just happens to boast quarterback Trevor Lawrence and a loaded stable of skill players.
Heisman Short List (By John P. Wise)
5. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue: This might not be the year for Purdue’s first Heisman winner, but nobody expected Moore to burst on the scene the way he did as a true freshman last year. Moore led the country with 103 catches and finished fourth in the nation with 2,048 yards, earning the prestigious Hornung Award as the sport’s most versatile player.
4. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon: Armed with Sunday measurables, Herbert’s supporting cast from 2018 returns largely intact. He could have been the first quarterback taken in this spring’s NFL Draft, but his decision to return to Eugene means he’ll be on every preseason watch list, and a season-opener in prime time against Auburn will help his case, too.
3. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: Stop us if you’ve heard this before -- Wisconsin has a star at the running back position. Taylor has surpassed 4,000 rushing yards in his first two years as a Badger, to go along with 29 touchdowns. If he can protect the football better in 2019, and if Wisconsin can be a national contender, Taylor will at least earn an invitation to the ceremony.
2. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: When it comes to picking the top two teams or the top two Heisman contenders, it’s pretty much six of one, half a dozen of the other, no? For those who weren’t familiar with him before he shredded Alabama in the title game, he’ll be a true sophomore next year.
1. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: Nagging injuries cost him the award last year, so if he can stay healthy, the junior lefty who finished second last year could win it in 2019.
We Need Answers (By John P. Wise)
+ Is college football getting boring? It’s Clemson and Alabama every year. Sometimes there’s a Georgia or an Ohio State or an Oklahoma. But will someone else break through? Will a G5 ever get invited to the party? Will the playoff expand?
+ What is the over/under on how many times Texas will be “back” in 2019?
+ How will Ryan Day step into the head coaching role at Ohio State? And by that, we mean when will Urban Meyer be named USC’s next coach?
+ Have we ever found out why Les Miles really took the Kansas job?
+ Will the Big 12 ever play defense again?
+ Will the Pac 12 ever win a championship again?