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Louisville Preview: Can Notre Dame Leave With a Win?

By: Connor D'Aquila ⏐ Writer ⏐ Twitter:@ConnorDaquilaIT


Photo via Rob Kinnan | USA Today Sports


Louisville enters this weekend with a 5-0 record and a number 25 ranking, making this game far from a tune-up and far from what we might have thought entering the season. After three years together at Purdue, new head coach Jeff Brohm and transfer quarterback Jack Plummer are reunited, and the team is firing on all cylinders. Brohm is known for an explosive offense and took Purdue to a Big Ten championship in his final season there. A Louisville alum, this was the obvious move following Scott Satterfield’s departure, and it appears the team has bought in. For a Notre Dame team coming off two straight ranked games and primetime environments, they will have their work cut out for them. While the Irish are currently favored by about a touchdown, the fatigue factor and Louisville's talent cannot be overlooked. See the breakdown below:


Offense

The Cardinal offense has been explosive early. Led by Jack Plummer, the passing attack has been potent, which is no surprise given Coach Brohm’s history as an offensive mastermind. Plummer currently sits at 1,406 yards, 11 touchdowns, and six interceptions on a 65% completion rate. A year ago, we got to see the ND defense hold Plummer (playing for Cal) to only 184 yards and one touchdown, but the difference in systems and weapons between then and now is night and day. So far, the favorite target has been Jamari Thrash, a transfer averaging 20.2 yards per catch with a total of 444 yards. Pair that with five touchdowns, and it is obvious the DBs will have their hands full. Three other receivers have over 100 yards, all with a touchdown, and the top two running backs add another 100 each. Their tight ends are not much of a factor and Plummer doesn’t have much running ability, so it isn’t the most versatile attack, but Brohm’s offense will always keep teams on their toes. Running back Jawhar Jordan has also looked elite with 510 yards at a 7.7 YPC average. In his fifth year in college football, look for the experienced back to give the defense a lot of trouble.


Photo via Karl B DeBlaker | AP Photos


Defense

As for the defense, they have some talented players, but production has been mixed. They come in ranked 37th in yards per game at 327.8, but aside from the season opener against Georgia Tech, they have held some solid teams to poor offensive showings. NC State last weekend is a perfect example, as they kept them to only 10 points and 201 total yards. Compare this to ND allowing 24 points and 344 yards when they played the Wolfpack. The offensive performances were very different, but we cannot overlook this defense. They are led in tackles by linebacker TJ Quinn, but have some talented defensive backs right behind him. Quincy Riley has had five passes defended already and sealed their win last week with a pick. Devin Neal and Cam’Ron Kelly lead the safeties and have been very productive thus far. As for the line, look for Ashton Gillotte, who has five sacks this year and had seven last year. The explosive defensive end has Dezmond Tell beside him on the interior. Tell has two sacks and a forced fumble, and at 6-foot-1, 290 pounds, will be a force to watch in the run game.


The Matchup

The Irish boasting one of the best cornerback duos in all of college football is very fortunate in this game, as they look to shut down the passing game. The safeties, however, have had an up-and-down season, and they will need to continue recent weeks' performance if there is any chance of stopping the big plays. The emergence of Xavier Watts and Ramon Henderson adds elite athletic talent deep in the defense, and that will be key against this offense. More importantly, they must also stay disciplined as Brohm flashes different looks in his versatile scheme. This goes for the entire defense, especially the linebackers, who will need to keep Jawhar Jordan in check. Finally, if the defensive line can play how they did against Duke and get pressure on Plummer, it would go a long way in limiting the big plays.


On the offensive side, look for the passing attack to get hot. Louisville ranks 86th nationally in pass yards allowed per game at 254.8, so it could be a great opportunity to get the receivers active. Mitchell Evans and Holden Staes should also be able to make an impact with a solid but young linebacker and strong safety group. While the running defense has been far better thus far, they have not seen an offensive line like Notre Dame’s, and their relatively small size should allow the ND o-line to get some push. I would not be surprised to see Estime have a big day.


Notre Dame has the chance to have a big win in Louisville, but they also cannot overlook the talented team Coach Brohm has put together. They have an explosive offense and their defense has looked very solid in recent weeks. Ultimately, ND’s biggest advantage should come in the trenches, and if they can win that battle, fans should feel confident. If not, it could be a rough night. No matter what, be ready for an exciting game under the lights at L&N Stadium.



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