Indiana football is set to take on Louisville at noon on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Let’s get into it:
Years of posting Brohm-to-Louisville bits at Purdue fans finally paid off when Louisville went out and brought their No. 1 son home this year. From an outsider’s perspective it appeared that Brohm used the portal well to add talent onto an already pretty good roster. How was Louisville built this offseason and how has it worked out on the field so far?
Brohm had a couple advantages when he came into the program in that the roster construction was nowhere near as bad as when Satterfield joined the program, and at some key offensive positions he had talent to work with. The tradeoff was that Satterfield’s offense was focused on establishing a ground game using outside zone concepts and then hit you with big plays in the passing game while Brohm’s core strategy is nearly the inverse of that offensively, wanting to bang you over the head repeatedly with the pass and then slip in some nice chunk plays with the run game. Brohm also had the benefit of Louisville poised to sign one of their better recruiting classes in history earlier this year and he did a good job holding onto a lot of those commits but as you noted, hit the portal very hard. Depth at offensive line and depth at wideout were critical and he did a good job bringing in talent that is already contributing early this year.
Broadly speaking, what does it mean for Brohm to be back home in Louisville?
It’s hard to verbalize for someone outside the community as it seems once or twice a year we have a “coach is coming back home” type hire in college football and the narrative is very similar for each. “I love this town, glad to be back, I played on this same field, wore the same jersey, etc, etc”. While I’m not downplaying that, this just seems to be something at a different level. It’s not just the football program but the community as a whole welcoming them back. There are three Brohm’s on the football staff this year who all played football at the University of Louisville, and that doesn’t include Jeff’s father Oscar and his connection to the program as well. The Brohm’s are the equivalent of the royal family in the city of Louisville, not because they portray themselves in that light, but because those in the city view them that way for their continued contributions, support, and involvement within the city and its programs . Growing up in Louisville and having three family members stay home to play for the local team when they had opportunities to go to more prestigious programs is not lost on people. The Brohm name is something that has always been synonymous with the program for as far back as I can remember, and part of that is because even though professional football and jobs took them away from the area they never really left (Jeff and family never sold their Louisville home while at WKU and Purdue) and it just felt like time was the only variable to him coming back to the program. Last week in the pregame interview they asked Brohm about having to find a bunch of tickets for his first home game as head coach and his answer was very revealing….he basically said “not really many ticket requests, because almost all my family and friends were already season ticket holders.”
In a sport where coaches appear to always be eyeing their next step, I would be shocked if Brohm is anywhere else but Louisville 7-8 years from now, and that’s an eternity in college athletics.
As stated above Indiana fans are well-aware of Jeff Brohm and his offense, how has it looked in year one so far? What’s the Cardinals identity on that side of the ball and who are the playmakers Indiana should keep an eye out for?
The offense will go as far as QB Jack Plummer (no relation) can take them. They have certifiable weapons at both the receiver position and running back position, and while Brohm loves to air it out he’s actually leaned more on the “left over” talent at running back from the previous regime and put Jawhar Jordan into a role where he can get some more space up front due to the passing game and go for big chunks once he gets to the second level. He’s currently number one in the country with a 16.50yd/att average and has a great counterpart in Wisconsin transfer Isaac Guerendo who runs like a Wisconsin tailback…you know exactly what I mean. Through the air, if Plummer can get them the ball (accuracy has been an issue through two weeks), Jamari Thrash is a playmaker with the ball in his hands and Kevin Coleman is a speedster who is a Jaylin Lucas type athlete that can hurt you in a few ways. While the timing has been a bit off Jimmy Calloway is another wideout who looks primed to break out in weeks to come. While I understand dropping 39 points in week one and 56 last week it’s hard to complain about offensive efficiency, but they have left points on the field and I think IU will take advantage more than either of the first two opponents if not corrected.
Brohm for the most part brought his defensive staff from Purdue with him. How have they performed thus far?
For seven of the first eight quarters of the 2023 season the defense has been pretty solid. It’s taking some time to adjust for Louisville fans as last season they were extremely high in their havoc rate, putting pressure on the QB, forcing turnovers, etc and this defense just isn’t built for that as it’s more so allowing the line to create pressure and forcing the backers and secondary to make plays. The 4-2-5 approach makes it hard on the passing game but does allow for getting slashed in the mid-range if the defense doesn’t hold their spots well. Shutting out Murray State last week was nice (I don’t care what level they are, keeping a team to zero points is hard) but the concern was the second quarter of week one where Georgia Tech destroyed them…to put it bluntly. The Cards gave up 28 of the 34 total points allowed in that quarter alone and the other six came on a late TD in the fourth. After the game Brohm attributed the collapse to more man coverage than they were comfortable with and not getting guys in the proper position. To their credit adjustments at halftime really changed what GT could do so hopefully similar adjustments can be made if they find themselves reeling again. Keep an eye out for DL Ashton Gillotte who can ruin your day if you don’t get a hand or two on him. Jackson and Lucas both make me nervous.
To respond to your inquiry on Indiana hoops, what’s the outlook for Kenny Payne’s squad entering year two?
Not great, LC. Maybe they surprise me but the ingredients for this recipe look very similar to last year so I’m not sure how different it’s gonna taste. For those not keeping up with the program last season congratulations on saving yourself from watching really bad basketball. We can argue bluebloods, top programs, etc all day but no one is arguing UofL as a Top 10 program all-time, in my opinion, and for them to win four games, and really show no improvement during that stretch was an embarrassment to what had been built here previously. KP went out and got some talented transfers and pulled in some hit or miss guys to try and stack up the roster but the major concern is a repeat of last season with thin depth at the guard/ball handling positions. It’s also not great they literally had one of the more notable prospects (Trentyn Flowers) leave the program last month to go pro in (checks notes) Australia, another recruit who is still yet to get qualified, and an assistant coach (Nolan Smith) rumored to be interviewing for a G-League coaching job just a few weeks ago. Other than that though, things are awesome. The truth is if we see anything remotely close to last season the KP experiment needs to close up shop. With the portal you’ve seen how quickly you can go from irrelevant to Sweet 16 at a mid-level school. Back to back losing seasons at Louisville is unacceptable….but that’s a December problem, because for now it’s football season.
What’s your final score/winner prediction for the game?
I can’t believe I made it to question six without bringing this up, but while my Louisville fandom goes back 30 years or so as a native, I’m also a 20+ year Purdue fan as well as an alumnus. Like a mutated Captain Planet one would assume “when those powers combine, I am….an IU hater”. But honestly, I don’t despise them to that level. Not gonna catch me rooting for them that often but otherwise unbothered. Not to bring up old stuff, but relevant in the conversation is that Brohm went 4-1 against the Hoosiers at Purdue and put up some crooked numbers against those teams throughout his tenure. I’d guess this UofL team is on par or slightly more talented than some of those teams and this IU team is slightly better as well. I’ll say Brohm attempts to score enough points to cover all three games in the series (including the two IU bought out of) and hangs around 35-40. Hoosiers keep it close early but eventually let it slip late. Cards 34-17.