College Football is fun to talk about in the offseason but the most exciting talk is when we can finally start looking at matchups with the opponents on the field. Our crew will be breaking down each of Georgia Tech’s opponents over the next two weeks which will get us into the start of Fall Camp before we look at our conference as a whole and predictions for the season. It’s only 43 more days until kickoff.
First up for our Yellow Jackets will be the Louisville Cardinals in the Chic-Fil-A Kickoff on Friday night of week one. The Cardinals joined the ACC in 2015 as a member of the Atlantic division and have only faced off against Tech two times with Georgia Tech being the victor in both 2018 and 2020. Now that the Atlantic and Coastal divisions have been dissolved, Louisville will be one of three permanent opponents for Georgia Tech with Clemson and Wake Forest as the other two.
Louisville is getting some praise as a darkhorse contender in the conference this year but Georgia Tech is getting them at the best possible time to start the season. Head Coach Jeff Brohm is in his first year with the Cardinals and brought over most of his staff from Purdue to replace the previous regime of Scott Satterfield. Coach Brohm is a former Louisville quarterback and has had several years as an assistant at Louisville during his early coaching career so he is familiar with the area and program. Still, he will have to install his systems and will be doing so with some key departures.
Louisville is in for an overhaul with Jeff Brohm bringing his brother Brian from Purdue to be the offensive coordinator. Several assistants followed as well so there should be good continuity among the staff. Borhm’s offenses are known for incorporating trick plays and being aggressive. Brohm favors a more traditional drop-back passer instead of the dual threat that Louisville has used for most of its time in the ACC.
QB Malik Cunningham departs after last season with an impressive career that led him to a free agent signing with the New England Patriots. Returning QB Brock Domann will compete with Cal transfer Jack Plummer who was also at Purdue with Jeff Brohm. Plummer appeared to be the front-runner during the spring game and most likely has the best grasp of the offense. Plummer had over 3,000 yards passing at Cal and should come close to that number again with a new but experienced receiving corps from the transfer portal.
The running game returns a big piece with Jawhar Jordan who accumulated 815 yards last season with four touchdowns. His touchdown should go up with Cunningham no longer being the primary runner near the end zone. They also return Maurice Turner who had 314 yards. The concern is Brohm has not fielded a good running attack during his years at Purdue. Add the fact that Louisville will only be returning two starters on the offensive line and there could be some early pains trying to keep the offense balanced and opposing defenses honest with the rushing attack.
Louisville was very productive at times on the defensive side of the ball for the 2022 season. They had 50 total sacks collectively and allowed an average of 19.2 points per game. They return seven starts but lose the top three sack leaders from last year.
The unit along the defensive line should be fine as they still return Ashton Gillote who earned 6 sacks last season as defensive end. They also add solid pieces from the transfer portal with Stephen Herron coming in from Stanford and Jeffery Clark from Georgia State. The linebackers do lose most of their production with the two leading tacklers leaving and Benjamin Perry is the only returner with regular playing time.
The secondary should be solid again as they return almost everybody and added additional help from the transfer portal as well. The unit kept their opponents from throwing less than 200 yards on average last year though some of that could be attributed to such good pressure up front.
Brohm employs a co-defensive coordinator model and both Mark Hagan and Ron English spent the last two years in the same role at Purdue. The Boilermakers didn’t have the greatest numbers on defense last year despite their impressive record. They will need to hope Louisville’s players are more talented than their previous team if they want to compete in a conference loaded with QB talent.
If there is a glaring weakness anywhere on this team it will be with the special teams. James Turner was nearly perfect going 20-22 last year but has transferred to Michigan. Louisville hasn’t brought in anyone else and it appears kickoff specialist Brock Trvaelstead will take over though he has only attempted 5 PATs in his career with no field goals. Punting is in a similar situation with Mark Vassett leaving and no other option on the team has any game experience. Jawhar Jordan handled the kick-returning duties and was excellent in that regard with 3533 return yards and a 98-yarder returned for a touchdown.
Louisville certainly has the pieces to put together a solid campaign this season but the timing feels right for Georgia Tech in this matchup. The Yellow Jacket defense could take advantage of a Louisville offense trying to get cohesion along its line. Georgia Tech also sports a decent rushing attack that could take advantage of some holes with the linebackers. The Cardinals might be the overall better team throughout the season but Georgia Tech takes advantage of the neutral field in Atlanta and some early mistakes by Louisville in Week 1. Score: Georgia Tech 27 - Louisville 24