What an absolute whirlwind of emotions.
The Jeff Brohm Era at Louisville got off to a very unexpected start and finished in an even more unexpected way.
The first half was a tale of missed opportunities, poor QB-play, poor complimentary football, and downright bad defense.
Louisville had a hot start on defense with an interception by Ramon Puryear. The Cards settled for a field goal, forced a 3-and-out, and followed it up with another field goal to go up 6-0. But it felt like the team had left some points on the field with missed throws from transfer-QB Jack Plummer.
And that was proven correct when Georgia Tech outscored Louisville 28-7 in a wildly disappointing 2nd quarter that felt all too familiar to the last two season openers against Ole Miss and Syracuse. It’s hard to say exactly what caused the unraveling. It could have been the missed opportunities on offense, the defense playing tired because of the offense, or Georgia Tech just outplaying and outcoaching the UofL staff. But it was an all-systems failure that had Louisville fans once again staring down the worst way for the Brohm Era to start.
But then something happened at halftime. I changed my t-shirt. And the coaching staff did something in the locker room that we rarely, if ever saw during the Satterfield era, and that frankly few fans probably thought was possible: They rallied the troops, and put together game-winning adjustments.
The Cards started the third quarter with a great drive, but settled for another field goal from Brock Travelstead when Plummer once again missed his mark. But the defense forced a 3-and-out to finally slow down a humming Yellowjackets offense and the offense finally seized momentum and scored on a great pass from Plummer to future Heisman trophy winner Jamari Thrash. And what a star he is, as he finished the game with 7 receptions, 88 yards, and 2 touchdowns. It seemed like every time he touched the ball he made a spectacular play and many times he turned what should have been a short gain into a huge one for the offense who absolutely needed a spark.
Jamari Thrash’s second touchdown, an awesome 20 yard TD grab, put the cards ahead 29-28 with 8:08 remaining in the 4th quarter.
It looked like Louisville had all of the momentum in the world and on the ensuing Georgia Tech drive Ashton Gilotte came up with a huge sack to force 3rd-and-very long, but a holding call from the suspect ACC officials staff (another big story of the night) gave Georgia Tech new life and they drove all the way to the Louisville 16.
But when things were looking scary for the Cards again Dez Tell laid an enormous blindside hit on Haynes King to force a fumble which Kam Wilson recovered. And if that wasn’t big enough, on the very next play Jawhar Jordan broke a game-breaking 74-yard touchdown run to take Louisville’s lead to 36-28.
The defense stepped up big again and forced a turnover on downs deep in Tech territory where Brock Travelstead would tack on 3 more points to take the lead to 39-28. But things weren’t done yet. With less than 2:40 left in the game and no timeouts, the Yellowjackets finally scored points in the second half with huge and speedy touchdown drive to draw within 39-35. Tech tried an onside kick that scared the life out of most Cards fans, but Louisville recovered the ball and iced the game away.
There’s just so much to digest from this rollercoaster of a game. The thing that comes to mind first for me is that it feels like we have a real coach. I can’t remember feeling like we had a chance to win a game when getting boat raced the way we did in the second quarter. For Brohm and Co. to get the team to respond and bounce back the way they did in the second half is something we’ve been missing for a long time, and something I’m so glad to see is back.
I think Plummer has a lot of room for improvement, especially with such an icy cold first half, but you could see his leadership and game management skills in the second half and that’s something we need to see more of from him. While Plummer left a lot to be desired, one thing Louisville is not lacking is absolute studs on offense. The o-line created clean pockets and got great pushes in the run game all night, the trio of running backs, Jordan, Turner, and Guerendo were fantastic, and the receivers, led by budding-star Thrash, did all they could to help get Plummer going and provide a spark.
And the defense. They did a tremendous job bouncing back in the second half and getting back to where they started the game. They shut the GT offense down exactly when the offense needed it most, and when things looked most dire they came up with huge plays.
Just an all-around great effort from the team that fans can bask in and enjoy all labor-day weekend long. The Brohm debut was saved, and the vibes are great again.
I’ll leave y’all with....this....
and this insane stat....