SAM HARTMAN WON’T HAVE A REPEAT PERFORMANCE OF 2022
No Louisville fan will ever forget the third quarter of the Wake Forest game last season. In a game against a 10th-ranked Demon Deacons team, Tre Clark took the first snap back for a touchdown on an interception where he jumped the route and set in motion an insane quarter where Sam Harman turned the ball over six times.
I shy away from real predictions but I can’t see Hartman falling apart against the Cards this season. A major issue for Hartman last season was his offensive line. He now plays behind one of the best lines in the country and the left tackle spot that gave him hell last year is manned by Joe Alt who is one of the best offensive linemen in the country.
While Hartman doesn’t have the receivers he had at Wake, he definitely has upgraded on the line and at the running back spot. The best thing ND has going for it is that Hartman can be great while not being the entire offense.
AUDRIC ESTIME IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER IN THIS GAME
On that note, let’s talk about Notre Dame running back Audric Estime. He is in the top-10 in the country in just about every rushing statistic and he has shown an insane ability to hit big runs in big moments. Against NC State he ripped off an 80-yard run on the first play out of a weather delay. Last week, he ran for an impressive 30+ yard touchdown where he showed great patience and vision on his way to a go-ahead touchdown run.
Louisville has to have the ball in this game. Big plays would be great but with the way ND’s defense plays, they need to be able to sustain drives and get points when they have the football. A big part of the focus there is that Estime allows the Irish to be efficient and keep drives alive. He also opens things up for a passing game that has been solid but nothing special. He changes things if he can be effective. If UofL can find a way to slow him down, they can get the ball more and give Jeff Brohm more chances to work his magic.
CAN LOUISVILLE’S DEFENSE REPEAT WHAT THEY DID LAST WEEK?
As someone who wrote a lot of words about issues with the UofL defense last week, it’s worth noting that they had a very strong performance against NC State just days later. The defense didn’t have issues with leaving receivers wide open and they pressured Brennan Armstrong so much that he was benched this week. The defense also made the opportunistic plays that we have seen all season which led to a comeback win in the second half where the defense essentially shut down the State offense.
The big question is can they replicate that effort? While I think they played much better, I didn’t see anything in the scheme that made me expect a repeat performance. Ron English continued to rush four and even when a proper blitz was called and got home, we didn’t see similar calls later in the game.
Sam Hartman’s season has gone so well because he’s been able to work in a clean pocket and even when things break down, he has the patience and demeanor to handle the rush. We’ve seen every quarterback with the exception of Armstrong sit in the pocket and find open guys. I don’t know if last week was a fluke but I do know that what we’ve seen in other games seems more likely this weekend.
JEFF BROHM CAN PUT THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN
Louisville fans are ecstatic with Jeff Brohm’s start to his tenure as the football coach. Brohm has brought the big plays that people clamored for. His offense has brought attention to the program with star players making the big plays. He’s even endeared himself with fans with his boring, but informative press conferences where he has shown just mow much of a difference he is from the previous leader of the program. But, there is something that Brohm brings as a coach that will be extremely important during his time here.
Jeff Brohm wins big games. He averaged nearly one ranked (at the end of the season) win a year during his time at Purdue and his win over Ohio State remains one of the biggest moments in his career. Louisville as a program has had three such wins since they knocked off Florida in the Sugar Bowl. The opportunities have been there and fans have been let down nearly every time.
Jeff Brohm was hired to change things in this program. He can put the nail in the coffin that is the checklist of his hiring with a big win this weekend.