And we’re on to Louisville.
Jeff Hafley takes his team to Cardinal Stadium for the first road game of the season. The Cardinals are 3-0 to start the year, with narrow wins over Georgia Tech and last weekend to Indiana. The 2022 season was certainly something for Louisville. The team finished 7-5 in the regular season, but their coach left for Cincinnati, which they just happened to be playing against in the bowl game (which they won). Not to mention despite that solid season record, Boston College electrified them with a 34-33 win in early October.
Now Jeff Brohm, former Purdue coach who was last seen by the Eagle faithful taking down then #23 BC the last time the team was ranked, has arrived to his alma mater. He’s made some key changes and seems to have brought back more energy in the area. Now they’re onto the first 3-0 start since the Lamar Jackson era.
Brohm’s teams usually boast strong offenses and this one is no different. Although it’s only been three games, they are currently the #9 ranked offense in the nation, most impressive in the run game. They did however, get shutout in the second half against Indiana.
Transfer quarterback Jake Plummer, who was a young redshirt freshmen on that aforementioned 2018 Purdue team, reunites with his former coach after spending last season at Cal. The 6-5, 220 pounder has a strong arm, but has turned it over in each game so far, including twice against Murray State. They weren’t all bad decisions, but the BC secondary will have opportunity to capitalize on risky throws.
The two main weapons on the offense are running back Jawhar Jordan and receiver Jamari Thrash. Jordan toted for 113 yards on 18 carries and Thrash had four catches for 159 yards against IU. The duo posted similar stats against Georgia Tech and have already accounted for eight touchdowns so far, scoring in every contest. The junior back Jordan had an 800 yard 2022 even after starting the season near the bottom of the depth chart. He’s fast in the open field and good at making defenders miss. A number of other players log carries as well, including Plummer. Brohm wants his quarterback to make plays with his feet, and to his credit Plummer has ran for about 100 yards in those two competitive matches. He’s not known for it, but has showed some shiftiness thus far and is more than willing. The sixth year man even helped ice the game against the Hoosiers on two nice scrambles.
As for Thrash, after a 1000 yard season at Georgia State, the speedy senior has been as advertised for the Cardinals thus far. He’s shown great explosiveness and play-making ability. Thrash will boast majority of the targets, but they’ll spread it around otherwise.
The Cards offensive line was poor last season, but improving so far. They’ve returned three starters including one of the conference’s best centers, and brought in a few transfers to revamp so far. They stayed clean against Tech, but IU got home on Plummer twice down the stretch. The line is still doing work leading a top rated run game though.
New Defensive System
The 2022 Cardinals were the best in the country getting home on opposing quarterbacks, but between lost production and a new 4-2-5 defense, that’s all changed so far. They still have a strong and deep defensive line and have limited opponents in the ground game, but haven’t gotten home as much as they’d like. That almost came to ahead in Indiana’s second half comeback effort. Ashton Gillotte had 7 sacks last year, but has yet to register one, and the team as a whole only has two.
They have shown strong effort all around though, and come up clutch at key moments. Linebacker TJ Quinn has led the way and just had a game saving goal-line tackle.
Here is the goal line stand Louisville made to stop Indiana on 4th down and hang on for a 21-14 win. TJ Quinn and Cam'Ron Kelly explain the mindset before that play: "Sacrifice your body and go make that play." pic.twitter.com/NIrfp33wkX— Tyler Greever (@Tyler_Greever) September 16, 2023
Shutout against Murray State aside, both Indiana and Georgia Tech passed all over the yard against this Cardinals secondary. Though the defense did log interceptions against each quarterback, both threw for about 300 yards. They return two key starters in the secondary, with Jarvis Brownlee’s team leading 12 pass-break ups last year, and also add two former Tar Heels in All-ACC corner Storm Duck and Cam’Ron Kelley. Starting safety MJ Griffin went down to injury already, so the team doesn’t have the most depth out there.
Special Teams Nugget
Tacking on a bit of a special teams notes — it’s a bit of a concern for the Cardinals. They allowed an onside kick to spark a comeback last weekend, and the kicker missed his lone 38 yard attempt to go with one poor punt. Prior to that he was 4/4 (with a long of 38), but note that he’s handling both kicking duties.
I think we can expect a similar level shootout as experienced last year. Castellanos will have the opportunity to make plays, perhaps on the receiving end. With how well the offensive line is playing, the Eagles might have to keep pace and hope for a timely defensive turnover. The 14 point spread seems a tad too much right now.