Let’s get right to it.
—It goes without saying that this was the best performance we’ve seen yet from Jack Plummer.
This was the second weekend in a row where an opposing defense has come in with the mindset of “we’re going to take away the short and intermediary passing games and make this guy beat us with the deep ball.” Plummer responded by connecting on 18-of-21 passes for 388 yards and five touchdowns. His nine pass completions of 40 yards or more are the most of any quarterback in the FBS, and he also leads the nation in passes of 60+, 70+, and 80+ yards.
So, yeah, keep pressing up at your own peril.
Now, Plummer hit on the 85-yard touchdown to Jamari Thrash in the first half of the Indiana game, but couldn’t the passing game going at all really in the second half. A big part of that was the effective pressure that the Hoosiers were bringing. In response to that, Jeff Brohm went to more play action on Saturday, and the offensive line also stepped up its game dramatically.
I talked on the pod and the radio show last week about Plummer’s arm strength and the need to come to terms with it. The reality is that, in this offense, you don’t have to have a Lamar Jackson or Teddy Bridgewater or Chris Redman arm to put up the types of numbers Plummer is right now. The underthrows in the Georgia Tech and even the Murray State games were more about late recognition and decision-making than they were about arm strength.
Lamar had an arm that allowed him to complete passes even when he was a second or two late in recognizing that a man was open. Plummer doesn’t have that luxury, but he can make up for it with top tier field vision and decision making. Both were on full display on Saturday. Plus, he also made a few picture perfect tosses that a majority of FBS signal callers would have misfired on.
The question with Plummer has never been about whether or not he’s good enough to win some games here. The question has been whether or not he’s good enough to win nine or 10 (or more) games here. Saturday was the biggest step yet towards answering that question in the affirmative.
—I’m still thinking about this play:
Might watch this 75 times between now and when I fall asleep tonight pic.twitter.com/0byxV37KAH— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) September 23, 2023
Now I’ve seen a lot of people saying some variation of “why would you run this play against Boston College” or “I wish we’d saved this for a bigger moment” since it happened.
A few thoughts here:
1. If you take a knee here, you’re going into the half up 21 against a BC offense that had just started to find its footing. Taking a knee and going into the half up 21 resulted in us all almost losing our minds in the final minutes of the Indiana game a week earlier.
If you feel like you have an opportunity to put a game out of reach against anyone, you put the game out of reach.
2. The situation has to be just right for this play to be run. Look at all the factors.
-You have to have the ball with less than a minute to go in the half.
-There has to be an amount of time on the clock that would have your opponent realistically believing you might take a knee.
-There also has to be enough time on the clock to where your offense will have enough time to take a shot at a touchdown or set up a field goal once the trick play is over.
There’s a decent chance that U of L might not be in this perfect scenario again this year.
Also, for all the people claiming that the play has been scouted and now we can never use it again: Purdue fans were quick to point out that Brohm used the play multiple times during his tenure there, and Western Kentucky fans were quick to point out that the play was used just before halftime during one of their bowl games. Every time the play was run, it worked.
We’ll see it again. Just maybe not this season.
—I’m not sure we’re fully embracing just how good Jawhar Jordan is and how wild his rise to prominence has been.
The guy is currently 8th in the nation in total rushing yards, No. 1 in yards per carry (by almost a full two yards over the next man on the list), tied for 8th in rushing touchdowns, all in an offense that is putting up monster numbers through the air. Oh, and he’s also caught six passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.
It’s worth remembering that the addition of Jordan — who came to Louisville after two seasons of barely being able to get on the field for a pair of bad Syracuse teams — barely made a blip on the transfer radar at the time. He was buried on the depth chart in 2021 and didn’t even get his first carry until the next-to-last game of the regular season. Even after performing well at the end of last season, he was the third man up at RB to start 2022.
Now, it’s extremely easy to make the case that he’s the most important player on the first Louisville team to start 4-0 since 2016, and that he’s one of the most explosive players in all of college football.
—Speaking of being one of the most explosive players in all of college football, Jamari Thrash just keeps doing Jamari Thrash stuff on a weekly basis.
The Georgia State transfer has now found the endzone in all four of his games as a Cardinal, and is ranked in the nation’s top 20 in every major receiving category.
He’s everything we hoped he’d be and more.
—Don’t try a field goal against us.
Louisville’s top-ten FBS rankings:— Kelly Dickey (@RealCardGame) September 24, 2023
1 - Opponent FGs (0.0%)
1 - Fumbles Lost (0)
5 - Total Offense (542.0)
5 - Rushing Offense (237.25)
6 - Tackles for Loss Allowed (13)
6 - Opponent red zone conversions (55.56%)
7 - 4th Down Conversions (83.33%)
9 - Scoring Offense (43.0)
Don’t even fucking think about it.
Don’t even look at the goalposts.
—There are a lot of strangely familiar complaints happening up in Cincinnati right now, chief among them being Scott Satterfield’s decision-making and play-calling in the red zone.
You know where that complaint isn’t being heard? Louisville, where the Cardinals are now 19-for-20 in the red zone after a 4-for-4 performance on Saturday.
—I was isolated in the basement with hand foot and mouth disease like a GD leper on Saturday, but I did hear from multiple people that getting to the stadium was an absolute bear.
The attendance still wound up being just shy of 50,000, and it looked like it once everyone arrived deep into the first quarter. It certainly did not look like it once things got officially out of hand in the second half, but some things even Jeff Brohm isn’t going to change.
With the 7:30 kick set for Notre Dame, it’s safe to assume that we’re going to have a new Cardinal Stadium attendance record set in 12 days. It also has the chance to be our first “no stripe game” (adidas logo seats completely covered by actual people) ever.
—If you feel like Ashton Gillotte is constantly in the opposing backfield, that’s because he is.
Per PFF, Ashton Gillotte leads the country in total pressures. Also leads in QB hurries.— Keith Wynne (@Keith_Wynne) September 24, 2023
Guy’s a pro.
—Thomas Castellanos certainly looks like a young man with all the tools.
Considering that no conference is more incestuous with its transfers than the ACC (especially at quarterback), I’m fully expecting to see him leading another offense in the league in the next year or two.
Jordan Travis is leaving Tallahassee after this year ...
—Despite the new clock rules, it certainly felt like the third quarter took five hours to play. First time all season where it’s felt like play has dragged for a period.
When your offense is in the process of hanging 56, you don’t mind it.
—A lot of people, including myself, were disappointed when Jack Plummer showed up clean shaven at the beginning of his first game week as a Cardinal. He’d been sporting a mustache throughout the summer, and it had been glorious.
Could the return of the mustache be behind Plummer’s best game to date as a collegiate quarterback?
Many people are saying this.
I’ve never had just a mustache, but if this man leads us to a 6-0 start, I might be chopping off the beard and letting the upper lip continue to party.
Jefftember could become Stachetober.
It’s a working title.
—While Louisville’s passing game hasn’t utilized the tight end the way that Jeff Brohm would like, it has featured its running backs the way we saw throughout the spring and fall camps. U of L’s running backs have 17 catches so far this year, with just one drop according to Pro Football Focus.
Feed the studs.
—It was a rough one for the ACC Network announcers, who I believe referred to Jack Plummer as “Jake” a combined 16,000 times.
You kept waiting for it to be corrected and then, nope, Jake Plummer was back out there to start the second half. We also had multiple instances of Jeff Brohm being referred to as Brian, and Brock Travelstead also being referred to as Brian.
My girl Marilyn Payne crushed it on the sideline though, and that’s all that really matters.
—This play resulted in Jack Plummer fumbling the ball out of bounds, but whatever, it’s still going on Willie Tyler’s highlight reel to showcase his next-level athleticism.
We’ve got big men doing cartwheels in our offense pic.twitter.com/iBhwyUoQDF— Mark Blankenbaker (@UofLSheriff50) September 23, 2023
You want to play in a fun offense? Come to The Ville.
—By my count, Jeff Brohm is currently averaging just under three audible Rick Bozich laughs per press conference.
A remarkable debut season both on and off the field.
—We do not, I repeat do not, fuck around on Kim Schatzel Inauguration Week Kickoff Day.
You might, but we don’t.
—Kenny Klein texted me during the game to let me know that he had proposed making it Mike Rutherford Day.
The positive vibes from that text offset the negative vibes of most of my body looking like raw meat, and the offense responded with 56 points.
—During the Indiana game a couple of weeks ago, Virginia surprised all of us by demanding a pom-pom and yelling “Go Cards, you can do it” in a cheer for pretty much the entire first half. Saturday night when I told her that the Cards had won, she cried because she hadn’t gotten to be “cheerleader Virginia.”
This is the breakthrough I’ve been waiting on.
—Obviously, the defense gave up way too many chunk plays in the second and third quarters. Some of that can be contributed to the lopsided totals on the scoreboard, but not all of it.
The fact of the matter is that in all four of our games, we’ve had way too many instances of opposing wide receivers sitting in space with a ton of distance between them and the closest U of L defender. We’ve been fortunate to face some young quarterbacks who have misfired on some of the throws to these open receivers, but with Brennan Armstong, Sam Hartman and Riley Leonard looming ... that’s not going to be the case any longer.
There is some significant tightening up that needs to take place in the secondary if we’re going to emerge from the toughest stretch of the season still feeling good about ourselves.
—Heard some differing opinions on the script helmets. I dig them. Maybe they would have looked better with a matching uniform look, but I still thought they were very sharp.
The helmets this year overall have been pretty tremendous.
—Good stuff here from Stephen Herron:
Stephen Herron has played against Jack Plummer before coming to Louisville and of course faced him in practice here. He's a big fan of the quarterback. "He's fighting his own self in his head and he's finally just buckling down and being comfortable. Sometimes, it takes time." pic.twitter.com/3iAQtOf4Dy— Tyler Greever (@Tyler_Greever) September 23, 2023
—Through four games, Louisville has now outscored its opponents 34-0 in the first quarter. They’ve scored in the first quarter in all four of those games.
—This has been two weeks in a row now where Ahmari Huggins-Bruce has been heavily involved in the offense. He’s sort of been lost in the shuffle a little bit with all the attention on Jawhar and Jamari, but he’s like Thrash in that he can play the role of both the reliable third down receiver over the middle and the big play threat down the sideline.
—Of note: Louisville has still not lost the turnover battle once this season. Neither the Cards nor the Eagles gave the ball away on Saturday.
—This is the first time ever that Louisville and Kentucky have both been 4-0 at the same time. Same goes for Duke and North Carolina, but who cares.
—Was a little surprised to see Cam Kelly not get the start a week after being ACC Defensive Back of the Week. Josh Minkins continues to be a bit up and down. Will be curious to see how the playing time is divvied out Friday night.
—I don’t have the video, but Antonio Watts shoving the Boston College defender out of the way with one arm before trying to scoop the fumble on what had appeared to be Castellanos’ backward pass was the funniest play of the season so far.
Off the charts “backyard football with younger sibling” vibes.
—It’s been a long time since we’ve been staring down the start of October without having tasted a Cardinal football defeat. I don’t want this fun to stop.
Friday night in Raleigh figures to be an absolute dogfight. Get the job done there, and then get ready for what could be an all-time game week and Saturday celebration in The Ville.