Louisville opens their new season with Jeff Brohm as the head coach against a Georgia Tech team that finished last season strong. Brent Key was named as the interim coach early last season and he responded by leading his team to a ranked road win against Pitt. Key brought in a new offensive coordinator this season with the hopes of utilizing his talented skill groups in a more productive way.
With Jeff Sims moving on to Nebraska, Key needed an experienced starter to come in and take over the offense. He did just that when he landed Haynes King from Texas A&M. King has about 10 starts under his belt and he has played fairly well when he has been healthy. King has a good arm from a strength standpoint but his throwing motion is a bit long which can make it easier for defenders to jump routes.
King is solid as a runner and I think his legs could be a factor in this game. If Ron English holds back and doesn’t bring pressure, King could find some opportunities to extend plays with his legs or run for first downs.
Running back is one of the few spots where Tech has a proven commodity. Dontae Smith is a veteran back with over 1,000 yards in his career. The stocky back also has 12 touchdowns and I would say he’s been underused during his career. Smith has a knack for breaking off chunk runs but his toughness stands out to me. He will make it hard to bring him down with one guy. He also does a good job of falling forward when going down.
Trey Cooley (formerly Trevion) transferred to GT from Louisville after last season. He reunites with Norvall Mckenzie who recruited him to the Cards. Cooley got a lot of reps in the Tech spring game and should have the best chance to be the backup this season. Cooley showed off his pass-catching skills in the spring game but he didn’t make many plays outside of a few catches. I’m interested to see if he has more success in a different scheme.
I was very impressed with what I saw from the group of receivers Tech has. Malik Rutherford is a guy I loved coming out of high school but he hasn’t made a major impact as of yet. However, he did look like a guy ready to break out during the spring game. Christian Leary also looked like an Alabama-caliber recruit after transferring in. Leary is quick with the ball in his hands and he has breakaway speed. Both of these guys have the potential of making plays inside the hashes.
On the outside, Dominick Blaylock is a guy to watch out for. He had 15 catches and a touchdown for Georgia last year and brings a veteran presence to the group. Abdul Janneh had a strong season at Duquense last year which included 3 catches and a touchdown against FSU. Avery Boyd had 2 catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game and both catches were impressive. He has great size and jumping ability but on his long touchdown, he got behind the defense on a go route.
Another player that made a few plays in the spring game was Dylan Leonard. The big tight end made a couple of catches and gained some yards after the catch. He wasn’t utilized much last year, but I think the offense as a whole could look different this year with a new quarterback. Luke Benson will also be an option for King at the tight end spot. Both of these guys are veteran options that can test a young group of linebackers for Louisville.
Brent Key made his name as Alabama’s offensive line coach and his reputation helped him remake the group through the transfer portal. That has allowed the staff to add depth while going through their rebuild. With that being said, GT was terrible when it came to avoiding negative plays and sacks last season. The depth will likely help competition in practice but I’m not sure there is anything that I’ve seen that would make me think that this group has improved. UofL should have an edge here and they will need to exploit it.