Louisville is having trouble finding an adequate successor to Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting last year.
As a result, redshirt freshman quarterback Malik Cunningham is expected to get his first start on Saturday in the Cardinals’ ACC opener against Virginia.
Louisville began the season with sophomore Jawon Pass as its quarterback. But the Cardinals’ offense struggled in a 51-14 loss to Alabama.
Louisville was tied 7-7 at halftime with FCS Indiana State in its second game, and trailed Western Kentucky 7-0 in the first quarter this past weekend.
In both of those games, Cunningham replaced Pass during the game and helped the Cardinals survive.
“I think right now we got to look at Malik and get him going,” Petrino told the Louisville-Courier Journal. “Two weeks in a row now where he’s come in and did a great job. Moved the football, got us in the end zone, competed extremely hard. I didn’t think that (Pass) played very well when he was in there. We had to make the change. He’s not the only one. We had other opportunities to make plays and weren’t able to make them.”
With Cunningham leading the comebacks, Louisville (2-1) beat Indiana State 31-7 and got past Western Kentucky 20-17.
So far this season, Pass is 28 of 56 (50 percent) for 341 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions, a 98.64 passer rating.
Cunningham is 16 of 25 (64 percent) for 163 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions, a passer rating of 131.97. He also has run the ball a team-high 33 times for 183 yards and a touchdown.