Lupo's punting job safe for now; Satterfield defends late strategy

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LOUISIVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- Scott Satterfield can empathize with Louisville punter Logan Lupo, who suffered through a disastrous debut in the Cardinals' 35-21 win over Western Kentucky Saturday night.


And apparently the gaffes won't cost Lupo his job when 18th-ranked UofL (1-0) hosts No. 17 Miami Saturday night in its Atlantic Coast Conference debut.


"I can go back to my very first college play at Appalachian State, where we ran an option play and I fumbled the ball," Satterfield, a quarterback in the early 1990s, recalled during his weekly teleconference Monday afternoon. "It was at the end of the game, so it was mop-up duty and it didn't really hurt us."


Unfortunately for Lupo, that wasn't the case because both of his flubs did hurt. The sophomore, who didn't see any action last year, dropped the ball on his first punt attempt and WKU recovered on the one-yard line and quickly scored.


The next time Lupo punted -- after UofL scored on four straight possessions -- misfortune struck again when his first punt of the second half was blocked, with the Hilltoppers recovering on the four before scoring on their second play.


"Hopefully, that will be the last time those things happen," Satterfield said.


In fall camp, Lupo won a three-way battle for the punting duties, beating out Brock Travelstead and Ryan Harwell. Satterfield said he has no plans to replace Lupo against Miami and added that the South Florida product wasn't entirely to blame for the block, although he definitely took too much time getting the ball away.


"When he dropped the first one, that was his first college play and it was raining," Satterfield said. "It just so happened that we were backed up near the goal line, so that was kind of an unlucky thing for him. I know we have faith in him, and there were other things with some protection issues on the second one that were not his fault. We have to look at some tings that we are doing out there, fix some mistakes, and we will be fine in those aspects."


Also in Monday's media session in response to a question, Satterfield defended his decision to keep starting quarterback Micale Cunningham in the game until the final horn and having him carry the ball four times even though UofL had a seemingly comfortable lead going into the final minutes.


After Western scored with 5:40 remaining, the Cards took over on their own 44-yard line and Cunningham drove them to the five in 12 plays before time ran out. However, when UofL got inside the red zone, keeping him on the field seemed to be an unnecessary risk, and he could have easily been injured when he was hit out of bounds after a five-yard loss. He had already limped off the field once after being hit in his lower leg in the third quarter.


"We got the ball back at midfield, so we're trying to go down to score," Satterfield said. "You don't want to give them the ball back. You guys saw what happened last year against Wake Forest."


What happened in UofL's wild 62-59 victory was this: Wake trailed 52-31 with less than 6 1/2 minutes remaining before closing to within 55-52 at the 3:37 mark with a flurry of points that included two passing touchdowns in 35 seconds by backup quarterback Sam Hartman. Quarterback Evan Conley provided the Cards' winning margin with a 41-yard run with 2:15 left as Wake added yet another TD at the 1:10 mark, then tried an onside kick that UofL recovered. So maybe Satterfield had a right to be nervous Saturday.


"Some things can happen so fast that five minutes is an eternity," he said. "So we were trying to run the clock out and get some more points on the board. We ended up running the clock all the way down, which was awesome. We ran an option where we could have handed it off when (Cunningham) ended up getting out of bounds. That's just part of our offense; it comes with the territory. But we're trying to win football games and finish them out."


BRADEN SMITH HONORED


It didn't take juco transfer Braden Smith long to make an impact in the ACC. After his first game at Louisville, Smith was named the ACC Receiver of the Week.


He caught four passes for 110 yards, becoming the first Cardinal to record 100 receiving yards in his Louisville debut since Deion Branch chalked up 123 yards against Kentucky in the 2000 season opener.


Smith hauled in a 63-yard reception for his first collegiate reception and later added a 48-yard catch. He ranks seventh nationally in receiving yards per game at 110.0 and stands ninth with a 27.5 yards per catch average.


Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at 0926.russ.brown@gmail.com.

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