WHICH NEWCOMERS WILL STAND OUT?
Jeff Brohm was tasked with two things when he signed on the dotted line to become the new coach at Louisville. Find a starting quarterback and re-tool the wide receiver room. Malik Cunningham exhausted his eligibility and the quarterback room didn’t have a sure thing ready to go as a starter with a mix of young guys with potential and veterans who haven’t seized the job. The receiver room had a couple of guys with great potential but a string of recruiting misses left the group very thin.
The staff went out and did about as well as you could in both spots by landing Jack Plummer who was the starter at Cal last season after being a part-time starter from Brohm at Purdue in the past. At receiver, Jamari Thrash and Kevin Coleman add speed and versatility to the receiver room. Throw in a few other options for depth and Brohm has a lot of potential with this group.
My best bet for the guy we hear the most about is Thrash. He is a total package type of player who can make plays at any level of the passing game. Louisville needed to replace its number one option and I believe they’ve done that.
HOW DO THE HOLDOVER PLAYERS RESPOND TO JEFF BROHM’S PRACTICES
One of my favorite parts about open practices is being able to get a feel for how coaches actually coach. I remember being completely caught off guard during the Charlie Strong days by how intense some of the most soft-spoken coaches were when they were on the field. Ron Dugans and Brian Jean-Mary being loud and forceful. Kolby Smith finishing every run with his backs during drills. Lonny Galloway making receivers do push-ups for drops.
It’s an aspect that I’ve enjoyed and I’ve also enjoyed seeing players respond to the coaches. Mark Ivey is a good example, in my opinion. He is a high-energy nut-case of a coach and I’ve seen players who are much more reserved break out of their shells and celebrate good rep in a drill. Ivey has cultivated a great relationship with his players during his time here and I’m interested to see which new coaches will do the same.
WHO ENDS UP STARTING IN THE FRONT SEVEN?
Louisville was expected to have some turnover on defense but even with some of the losses they had to eligibility, key players were expected back to take a step forward. Dorian Jones was set to become a full-time starter and Monty Montgomery announced that he would be using his 6th year of eligibility to return to the team. Unfortunately, both players announced they would be transferring with Jones following the staff to Cincinnati and Monty landing at Ole Miss.
This has left a substantial hole in the middle of the defense with KJ Cloyd being the only returner with more than one year of experience playing inside linebacker. Jaylin Alderman and TJ Quinn will likely battle for the other spot but depth is a real concern on top of the lack of starting experience.
Jermayne Lole returns this year as a likely starter at nose tackle and I would imagine Tawfiq Thomas will be the next man up there. Dez Tell and Jared Dawson will probably rotate at the defensive tackle spot as they did last year. The different role on the line will suit both of them well, in my opinion. Tell is very quick and does a good job of getting up the field while Dawson is very disruptive and eats up blocks well.
On the outside, I think UofL has its best depth. Ashton Gillotte should start at defensive end with Ramon Puryear and others backing him up. Stephen Herron transfers in to play the stand-up defensive end spot that is very similar to the “Dog” position in Bryan Brown’s defense. Herron will likely slide into the starting spot with Kam Wilson, Popeye Williams, and possibly Raheim Craig backing him up.
Overall, the staff has plenty of guys to work with outside of linebacker but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them look to the portal this summer to add a piece there.
WHERE IS THE HYPE?
This is a bit of a personal take but I’ve been really surprised by the lack of hype for the football program since Jeff Brohm was hired. It started out strong but, to me, it died down right after signing day. Louisville signed the best class in the history of the program and followed that up with a commitment from a five-star from Florida and it’s been crickets since that day.
Some of this comes down to a different approach from Jeff Brohm than we saw with Scott Satterfield and from other coaches around the country. He hasn’t done a lot of media and when he has, it’s been local media mostly talking about him coming home. There haven’t been profiles of him in The Athletic, his assistants haven’t been doing much radio with the local shows either. Last year around this time, Pete Notcha was on every local radio show possible to talk up the improved recruiting as well as the investments that had been made. For whatever reason, we just aren’t seeing the same “sell” as we did last year.
Maybe this staff feels like Louisville is at a point where they don’t have to do much to sell what they have. It’s also possible that they want to temper expectations. I’m not sure what the reasoning is, but UofL just finished one of their best seasons since joining the ACC and added a substantial recruiting class. They also brought in a handful of impact transfers to fill holes and improve certain position groups. This program should be able to continue the upward trend it is on and I just expected to hear about that more over the past few months.