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Game Day: Louisville at Georgia Tech

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The Cardinals hit the road for a hugely important Friday night tilt in Atlanta.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 26 Virginia at Louisville Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (1-2, 0-2) At GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS (1-2, 1-1)

Game Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Bobby Dodd Field: Atlanta

Television: ESPN/fuboTV

Announcers: Jason Benetti (play-by-play), Andre Ware (analyst) and Roddy Jones (sideline)

Favorite: Louisville by 5

All-Time Series: Georgia Tech leads, 1-0

Only Meeting: Georgia Tech won 66-31 on Oct. 5, 2018 in Louisville

Statistics:

Louisville Uniforms:

Louisville Depth Chart:

Relevant Videos:

About Georgia Tech

via Keith Wynne

OFFENSE

Geoff Collins took over at Georgia Tech two years ago with a monumental task ahead of him. He replaced Paul Johnson and his option offense and he needed to rebuild an offense into the spread style that he used at Temple. Georgia Tech didn’t have many players who fit that scheme and Collins’s first year was rough to say the least. But Collins has some young guys he can work with now and he’s made the obvious choice to play all of them.

The Quarterback position is the key in a rebuild and Jeff Sims is a really good option for Collins in this offense. Sims was a highly rated recruit that flipped from Florida State when they made their coaching change. He was handed the keys to this offense when he arrived on campus and he has performed like you would expect any young player to perform when they don’t have to worry about having the keys taken away. Sims has made some nice plays with his legs and he has been pretty accurate but he has turned the ball over a lot.

Sims has at least 10 of Tech’s 12 turnovers through three games and some of them have been very careless. He doesn’t do a great job of protecting the ball when he runs and he’s thrown into coverage a few times after staring down a receiver. The other issue that has stood out to me is how rare it is that he feels pressure or sees blitzes pre-snap. Louisville’s defense is built around bringing pressure from different angles and that could help them get to the QB this week.

Tech is loaded at Running Back with Jahmyr Gibbs and Jamious Griffin as great combo. Griffin was a four star recruit who had Louisville as a finalist two classes ago while Gibbs was the 8th ranked running back and the jewel of a top-30 class last winter. Both of these guys are outstanding talents who have the ability to grind for yards or break a big play. Gibbs took his first collegiate touch for a long kickoff return and he genuinely looks like he moves in hyper-speed. It makes sense that the staff compares him to Reggie Bush.

Griffin and Gibbs are an obvious focal point with this offense but Sims leads the team in carries right now. I’m not sure if that’s by design or not but it takes away from the potential of the offense, in my opinion. I pointed this out last year when Malik Cunningham had 16 carries in a game early in the season. When you have dynamic running backs, you have to make them the focus of the running game and get them the ball as much as possible. Tech hasn’t done that so far Gibbs, Griffin, and Jordan Mason are only getting about 25 carries a game, combined this season.

The big area where the rebuild is behind is the Wide Receiver group. Tech has some skill outside but they need more consistency from this group. Jalen Camp is the best player in the group, in my opinion but they have a few guys who can make plays. Malachi Carter has been a target on some deep throws and Marquez Ezzard is another big receiver they use outside. A guy who they probably need to utilize more often is Ahmarean Brown who set the school record for touchdown catches last season as a freshman. Tech has about five guys who they spread the ball around to but none have really become the “go-to” guy so far.

The Offensive Line has been aided by transfers over the last two years and that has helped them remake this offense much more quickly than expected. They’ve also done a pretty good job of getting veteran players coached up to change their style of play. Tech has only allowed two sacks this year and sixteen tackles for loss. With a scrambling Quarterback and young backs, that’s pretty impressive. Louisville needs to take advantage of the inexperience from a pass blocking standpoint to get pressure off the edges and with other blitzes.

DEFENSE

Georgia Tech has a lot to rebuild on with Geoff Collins taking over a program that never recruited quite as well as they should have. I’d imagine that fans maybe expected things to be better on defense, however. Collins is a former Defensive Coordinator who is known as an ace recruiter. His defense hasn’t shown that as of yet and it’s a little surprising. While Tech has been able to lure top offensive talent in the first few classes, the defensive side of the ball is reliant on veteran players from the previous regime and transfers.

Georgia Tech doesn’t do a depth chart for some gimmicky reason that doesn’t make sense to me. So it’s a little tough to know what Defensive Linemen we will see most often on Friday. They run a 4-2-5 scheme and they will also use a three man line at times. The line hasn’t been able to make many havoc plays and I think they might be having the same issue we’ve seen with UofL as it comes to rebuilding the line. There aren’t a lot of play makers here but they do work with a rotation to keep these guys fresh.

David Curry leads the defense from his Middle Linebacker spot. He has been around for a good while and he is about as steady as it gets as a Linebacker. Curry isn’t a big time athlete but he is a really strong tackler and plays with solid instincts. If Louisville wants to run the football well, they have to get hands on him and stop him from racking up a bunch of tackles. Quez Jackson starts at the other spot and while Curry plays more downhill, Jackson has made more tackles as a second level defender.

The Georgia Tech secondary is full of jumbo athletes who have made a good amount of plays in run support and as pass rushers. Charlie Thomas and Kaleb Oliver are listed as Nickelbacks on the “Above The Line” depth chart thing Tech does and both are essentially Linebackers who play Defensive Back. Oliver is 6-4/220 and Syracuse went after him every time he was in man coverage. Thomas is 6-2/210 and he has made a few plays in the backfield so far this year. He also has been a little bit of a liability in coverage. These guys will be key when it comes to stopping UofL’s outside zone runs but they also have to cover Tutu Atwell, Dez Fitzpatrick, and Braden Smith in the slot.

Georgia Tech has jumbo Cornerbacks as well and they got beat pretty badly by Syracuse and UCF receivers in those games. Zamari Walton seemed to be the guy getting beaten the most but Miles Sims gave up a go route against Syracuse where he was beaten by about five yards. These guys will make a play on a jump ball but they just don’t do a good job of turning and running with receivers. Tech plays some press man coverage and asks these guys to play on an island. Louisville should take advantage.

I like Tech’s Safeties but they have their limitations as well. They don’t cover a ton of ground and that doesn’t match well with corners who get beat easily. Juanyeh Thomas and Tariq Carpenter are both very big Safeties who are solid tacklers. Neither run all that well or cover space very well. I tend to think that teams will work hard to stop the run against Louisville so these Safeties could play a big role in run support. I just have questions about how they will factor into the passing defense.

Excitement Level: 7.4

Friday football is always fun, but it feels like more of a nervous level than an excitement level this week. The Cards need to get this one.

Game Attire: Red Louisville Cardinals long-sleeve T

Busting out the cooler watch from home clothes.

Pregame Meal: Wings

Wings worked in week one and then we got away from them. That was a mistake we’ll look to rectify this evening.

Bold Prediction: Louisville records at least five sacks.

We haven’t been remotely close on one of these all year. The time has come for that to change. Let’s go D.

Justin Marshall TD Alert Level: Maximum Purple (good)

Most confident the alert level has been all year. Georgia Tech has given up the third most pass plays of 20 yards or more of any team in the FBS. Let’s get No. 18 loose.

Predicted Star of the Game: TuTu Atwell

A defense with issues in its secondary and a propensity for allowing big plays should equal a monster night for the most dynamic player on the field.

Notable:

—Louisville is 50-31-1 overall all-time in Friday night games, including an 18-14-1 mark in Friday night road games. This will be the first time since 2018 that the Cardinals will play on a Friday.

—Louisville is 12-10 in televised Friday night games on ESPN/ESPN2, including a 5-2 mark on the road. U of L had won five in a row in televised Friday night games before games to Syracuse and Georgia Tech in 2018.

—This marks the first time in 62 years that Georgia Tech is playing a home game on a Friday, dating back to a 17-3 win over Florida State on Friday, Sept. 26, 1958. Tech is 7-4 all-time in regular season games played on Fridays.

—Georgia Tech enters Friday’s contest ranked among the nation’s top 25 in 10 different statistical categories — net punting (fourth – 46.14 avg.), fumble recoveries (seventh – 3), fewest sacks allowed (eighth – .67/gm), takeaways (15th – 6), rushing offense (15th – 221.0 ypg), red-zone defense (18th – .750), total offense (22nd – 454.0 ypg), defensive interceptions (23rd – 3) and offensive first downs (25th – 70).

—Georgia Tech has posted at least 400 yards of total offense in all three of its games this season. It marks the first time that Tech has had three-straight 400-yard games at any point of a season since 2016, the first time that the Yellow Jackets have opened a season with three-straight 400-yard games since 2013 and the first time the Jackets have opened a season with 400-yard games against three-straight NCAA Division I-A/FBS opponents since 1999.

—This will be the first meeting between Louisville and Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

—This will be just the second time Louisville has played a football game in the state of Georgia. The only other contest was the Cardinals’ 2015 season-opener in Atlanta vs. Auburn.

—Louisville has six players from Atlanta on its 2020 roster; Defensive end YaYa Diaby, wide receiver Josh Johnson, defensive back Marlon Character, running back Hassan Hall, tight end Desmond Daniels, and long snapper Ford Hayes.

—Louisville has 25 players on its roster from the state of Georgia, the most of any team in the ACC outside of Georgia Tech.

—The Louisville secondary gave a remarkable performance against Georgia Tech in 2018, limiting the Yellow Jackets to just one pass completion.

—Javian Hawkins leads the ACC in rushing yards per game at 104.3.

—Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins and Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield were the defensive and offensive coordinators, respectively, for Florida International in 2010.

—This will be Louisville’s third straight game against what is typically an ACC Coastal Division opponent. Counting this season’s games against Miami and Pittsburgh, the Cardinals are 7-7 against Coastal Division opponents since joining the conference in 2014.

—Louisville is 11-14 in ACC road games since joining the conference in 2014.

—Georgia Tech has thrown eight interceptions and lost four fumbles in its first three games. In the FBS, only Duke has turned the ball over more often.

—Louisville’s James Turner is one of only four kickers nationally who has made four field goals and 10 extra points without a miss. He’s only the second placekicker in school history to make his first four field goal attempts.

—Under Satterfield, Louisville is 8-0 when winning the turnover battle, and just 1-7 when losing it. The Cards won the turnover against Western Kentucky in the season-opener, but lost it in their defeats against Miami and Pitt.

—In eight seasons as a head coach, Scott Satterfield’s teams are 49-4 when scoring 30 or more points. Louisville is 8-1 in such games under Satterfield, with the lone loss coming earlier this season against Miami.

—Of teams that have played three games, only two have given up more pass plays of 20 yards or more than Georgia Tech, which has allowed 13.

—Georgia Tech has won 13 of its last 14 games against rotating opponents from the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

—Louisville’s Dorian Etheridge is third in the nation in tackles for loss with an average of 2.83 per game.

—Louisville’s 27 tackles for loss are the fifth-most in the country.

—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 253 games dating back to a 31-0 loss to Florida State during the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the second longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech.

—Louisville is 190-13 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-117 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.

Quotable:

—“I coached with Coach Collins at FIU in 2010, when I was the OC and he was the DC and I know he likes to bring pressure, he’s a very aggressive coach when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. He wants his kids to play fast and cause havoc on that side of the ball.” —Scott Satterfield

—“I think it was a good time for us to have a bye week after playing those first three games, so it was nice to have not be able to play in in that regard. We were able to get some guys healed up last week and I think that we are in pretty good shape heading into practice. We should have all of our guys available for this week.” —Scott Satterfield

—“We’ve got to fix the unforced errors, we’ve got to fix ball security. All of those things we’ve got to improve on.” —Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins

—“We’ve done a good job of moving the ball, and we’ve been very difficult to defend.The team that’s defended us the best has been us. We can’t turn the ball over.” —Georgia Tech offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude

—
”We go into every game motivated and believing in each other. We don’t really feed into the outside social media talk. We come into every game with the mindset that we are going to set a statement.” —Marlon Character

—“We need to take it one game at a time. We obviously are trying to learn from anything we can in the past, whether it be had we hit one of those balls at the end of the game for a touchdown and we won that game, but for us this week wouldn’t be any different. We still had a lot of work we had to get done during the off week last week, and then we’re coming this week, it’s a new week. Whether you win or lose in the past, this week’s a new week. How hard can we play? How much fundamentally better can we get this week? That’s how we approach it every year. It’s really game-to-game. Each game in itself is its own season. What can you do this week to go out and play good enough to get a win.” —Scott Satterfield

Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 38, Georgia Tech 23

Let’s get it done and get back on track.

Go Cards.