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Georgia Tech Football 2023 - Opponent Q&A: Louisville

Our chat with Card Chronicle

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 17 Wasabi Fenway Bowl Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Whew that was a long offseason, but we finally made it. There’s a mild chill in the air here in Atlanta in mornings that still rapidly dissipates into unbearably hot afternoons, but at least it’s a small reminder that football season is finally here.

With that in mind, the Q&A returns this week chatting with John Powell (CardinalStrong) from the SBN Louisville site, Card Chronicle. Both of these teams enter the opener with new coaching staffs at the beginning of program resets. A win for either team would go a long way in building faith and excitement from their respective fanbases this season. Despite neither team being ranked, the stakes are still incredibly high as these new staffs shoot for at least bowl eligibility, and a win in week 1 against a conference opponent will go a long way towards that.

I think Jeff Brohm is an innovative head coach, and I was glad he was given another shot at a P5 job. What’s the sentiment around the program going into a reset year of 2023? The Cards have had a wild, wild decade in their athletics department, so I can imagine some sense of stability would be nice?

“Wild” is certainly one word to describe the last ten years Josh, I may go with something a bit more colorful but we’ll keep it clean for the mini-ramblin’ wreck readers. The crazy thing about Jeff Brohm (this is going to sound a bit hyperbolic so stay with me for a minute) is that his hire is really about more than the football program. The hometown hero who stayed in town to play QB for Louisville when he could have gone to a more prominent program, led them through some stuff on and off field, and left the program on an upward trajectory which eventually led to more conference titles, a new stadium, BCS bowl wins, a Heisman trophy, etc. with some of that coming with him back on staff as an assistant. It doesn’t hurt the whole time he was playing in the NFL or XFL (Let’s play football!) and as he transitioned into his coaching career he was still coming here and supporting the program as the Brohm family has deep roots in the city, including his brother Brian (OC) who also played QB for Louisville and did amazing things, and his brother Greg (staff) who also played WR at UofL. His return symbolized bringing in someone who was “one of our own” and it felt deeper because the previous regime showed signs both openly (flirting with South Carolina job after one season) and behind closed doors that this was not a permanent landing spot for them, and it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way early in their tenures which made it tough to get full buy-in.

If Brohm lays an egg here and the first season is a mess it won’t be puppies and rainbows but it’s “family business” compared to what felt like an outsider talking smack about your brother. We can rip him all we want but “you keep his name out ya mouth” type scenario. I can’t envision a scenario where, unless it’s really poor performances, Brohm is not here six or seven years from now. That’s never been a guarantee in the past 20-30 seasons. Louisville fans have been looking for something to get really excited about for years, to bring some stability back…this filled that void, at least for the time being. It doesn’t hurt of course that he’s a pretty dang good coach as well.

Forgive me for not being up on the current roster, but who will be QB at the helm for Brohm’s signature, high-flying offense this year? Do the Cards have the personnel on offense to get back to their high-scoring ways?

The QB position was going to be a question mark as the 10th year graduate student Malik Cunningham finally moved on to the next level. Brock Domann played in more than a handful of games last year and went 3-1 as a starter but I think most believed there was someone else who would take that spot if given the opportunity. Cards brought in Pierce Clarkson as a freshman (Top 20 QB nationally) and brought over a Purdue transfer Brady Allen (Top 20 QB in 2021) but the man running the show is Cal transfer Jack Plummer (no relation, before you ask). Plummer was at Purdue with Brohm for three years but lost the starting gig to Aidan O’Connell and transferred out to Cal where he put up some crazy numbers, but didn’t win very many games. Brohm brought him in because he knows the system very well and now has fours years of college under his belt. I don’t think he will be the reason the Cards lose games this year, but I personally am not convinced he’s the reason the Cards DO win games this year either. He’s talented, has a great arm, but I need to see him lead a winning football team, which is something he may be great at, but hasn’t done his entire collegiate career. Outside of Plummer they bring back a strong group of running backs (Jawhar Jordan, Maurice Turner, UW transfer Isaac Guerendo) and they completely flipped the wide receiver room, bringing in numerous players from Jackson State, Tennessee, Cincinnati, and Georgia State. Jamari Thrash looks to be the top dog but don’t sleep on Chris Bell and the speedsters Ahmari Huggins-Bruce and Kevin Coleman. A Brohm offense with average players can put up numbers but if half of these guys turn out to be studs they will be very dangerous. This would be a good place to plug my ‘Two Minute Plays’ series over at Card Chronicle where I break down some Brohm offensive concepts quickly and toss in a little humor while I’m at it. I’d love it if you checked it out.

The loss the BC aside, it seems like Louisville beat the teams they should’ve and lost to a few really good teams last year - what’s the ceiling for this team in 2023? Are you expecting improvement or regression?

Welcome to ‘The Scott Satterfield Tenure’. It drove fans mad because the Cards would often (not always) handle business against inferior opponents and then never get over the hump with comparable teams or more talented teams. He finished his time at Louisville 25-24 and 15-18 in conference, frankly in a less talented ACC the last three or four seasons. There was real discussions about his future here…..and then in the middle of the night, he left (insert “we’re on to Cincinnati” Belichick quote). So, the decision was made for them. As far as this team. If you blindly said they are a 6 or 7 win team I think that’s fair, but if you look at the schedule it lays out really nice this year. No Clemson, no FSU, no UNC and only three true road games with two neutral site opponents in Georgia Tech and Indiana (Lucas Oil). This team may be a few notches above average and still pull out nine wins. I think a ten win season sounds crazy but on paper may be plausible due to the things noted above. If they post anything less than seven I think they blew a great opportunity to start the ‘Brohm Years’ off hot.

The Yellow Jackets have not fielded a non-worrisome offensive line since 2016. Who on defense will be spending the most time in our backfield for Week 1?

If this was October/November of 2022 I’d offer up a few prayers for your QB as the defense was playing extremely aggressive and putting up crazy havoc numbers behind the line of scrimmage, including 30 sacks and 15 forced fumbles in those two months alone. Card’s lost three guys to the NFL including lineman Yasir Abdullah and Yaya Diaby but they do bring back Ashton Gillotte and Dez Tell up front, who had nine sacks of their own. The Cards also brought in transfer DL Stephon Herron from Stanford and some new blood at the second level with linebackers Keith Brown (Oregon) and Stanquan Clark (freshman). The defense will likely take a step back from ‘22 but I think they still have a Top 35 unit overall at season’s end.

Is there a better tailgate beverage in the world than a bourbon and ginger ale?

While you’re in the right family of beverages for these parts you may get a side eye from some mixing it with other drinks too often. It’s like having your pick of the Manning brothers to QB your flag football team and you snag Cooper. So close…but missed the mark. While you get no judgment from me, there are some local spots where the brown water is pretty smooth all by its lonesome, and there are plenty of places close by to sample…with or without your ginger ale. If bourbon isn’t your thing they did just release the official beer of Louisville Athletics ‘Cardinale’, which I’m sure you can have delivered if you so choose. I mean, who wouldn’t want the ‘Heisman Bird’ on your beer can? Maybe they’ll have some in Atlanta OR approach your favorite Louisville tailgate and ask nicely…even though these birds have teeth, they don’t bite often.

And finally, what’s your game prediction? Who goes home upset?

Week one is so tricky. Last season Louisville fans were probably overlooking Syracuse due to past performances against the Orange…and then got absolutely smoked. While they rebounded okay it put a wet blanket on the whole year. While a similar performance against Georgia Tech would be devastating I just get the feeling the juices with the new players and trying to start this staff off a winner will play a part. The run game of GT makes me nervous, including the QB, and I’m concerned the 4-2-5 scheme for Louisville allows for lots of dunk plays at 8-10 yards. I do my best to take off the Louisville glasses and view these teams objectively but I’m sure a little bias leaks out especially as we get closer and the energy ramps up. I don’t see a blowout either way, but I’ll say a late TD run from Jawhar Jordan seals it for the Cards. 30-21


Thanks again to John for taking the time to speak with us. Make sure to head over to Card Chronicle to say hello and check out their end of the Q&A. You can also follow John on Twitter/X here.

As always, go Jackets!