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Summer Scheming ‘23: Louisville Cardinals

Louisville wasn’t bad under Scott Satterfield, they were just never good. Satt heads to Cincy to replace Luke Fickell and Jeff Brohm comes home.

Big Ten Championship - Purdue v Michigan Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes and the Louisville Cardinals will face off on Saturday, November 18th at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, FL. Miami is on the road against rival Florida State the week prior while The Cards host UVA. Miami holds an 11-3-1 record over Louisville including a two-game win streak.

The Cards new head coach is former quarterback Jeff Brohm. The Brohm family is Louisville through and through, as his father Oscar was a Cards QB, as well as his brother Brian. Jeff was a two-sport star in high school and actually played minor league baseball in the summer while at Louisville.

After two summers moonlighting with baseball, Brohm decided to focus on being the starting quarterback at Louisville. In two seasons as a starter the Cards won 14 games and Jeff threw 38 touchdown passes.

Brohm then spent 1994 through 2000 as a backup QB in the NFL, and 2001 with the XFL’s Orlando Rage. After his playing career, Brohm coached the Louisville Fire before returning to the Cards as QB coach in 2003. Brohm’s QB tutelage started with Stefan LeFors, before his brother Brian Brohm joined the team, along with Hunter Cantwell.

Eventually Brohm was QB coach at Florida Atlantic, Illinois and OC at UAB and Western Kentucky before getting his first head coaching nod at WKU in 2014. The Hilltoppers finished 30-10 under Brohm before he left for Purdue. Brohm finished 36-34 at lowly Purdue including four bowl appearances and one Big Ten Championship Game appearance.

Per Bill Connelly’s SP+, the Cards are the 36th overall team in FBS heading into the 2023 season. Louisville is ranked 52nd on offense and 19th on defense.

Summer Scheming SWOT Analysis

This year’s Summer Scheming will look different than in years past by featuring a SWOT Analysis on each opponent the Hurricanes will face in the 2023 season. SWOT in this iteration will stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Traditions* (not Threats). We’ll discuss one cool tradition from each of the football programs on the ‘23 schedule.

Strengths: DB, C, RB

Center Bryan Hudson is the stud of the Cards heading into 2023. Hudson is an Athlon all-conference first-team center this preseason. He’ll be charged with protecting transfer QB Jack Plummer, and opening lanes for running back Jawhar Jordan. Jordan is an all purpose type of playmaker at kick returner and RB.

The Cards return their leading intercepter in Quincy Riley (three INT’s), and leading PBU guy in CB Jarvis Brownlee (12 PBU’s). Safeties Josh Minkins and M.J. Griffin bring back over 100 combined tackles from a year ago. UNC transfer Storm Duck looks to get on the field as well (nine PBU’s).

Weaknesses: LB, rest of the OL

The Cards will start two new linebackers, both with only reserve experience, in ‘23. That doesn’t bode well when facing teams like NC State, Duke, Pitt, Notre Dame and Miami who will all want to run the ball to set up the pass.

The offensive line brought in two new transfer starters, as well as two or three more portal guys for the two-deep. The O-Line is a position that requires a lot of time to not only learn the terminology for the offense, but also for how coaches identify the defenses. Add the ‘scheme’ talk to on-field communication and you have issues bringing in 2-3 new starters.

Opportunities: QB, Transfer Portal

Jack Plummer comes to Louisville to reunite with Jeff and Brian Brohm (OC/QB coach). The six-foot-five Plummer has had a rollercoaster college career having played his most games in a season last year, for the Cal Bears. In four years Plummer has thrown 47 touchdowns with 19 interceptions.

He’ll be joined by three new wide receiver transfers and a freshman tight end. That’s big opportunity, but small continuity for the Louisville offense. Last season, Jamari Thrash was a standout for Georgia State and Kevin Coleman for Jackson State (FCS), while Jadon Thompson was a reserve for Cincinnati.

You could see over a dozen transfers on the Cards two-deep this fall. That’s plenty of opportunity, but again, lacking continuity. One sure thing is defensive lineman Ashton Gillotte. Gillotte has logged 15 TFL’s and 11 sacks in two seasons of college football.

Traditions: The slow clap

From the Louisville alumni site:


In 1913 the Louisville Cardinal Bird was chosen to be the school mascot, and sometime after that the CARDS cheer was created. Now it’s one of the first things new students and their families learn when they come on campus.

Louisville offensive scheme

This Louisville offense won’t look the same. Scott Satterfield was a motion heavy, multiple backs type of offensive guru and Jeff Brohm is a more pro style coach.

Does that mean the Brohm offense won’t be fun? No, it’ll still have some fun. It just won’t be a triple option based pistol run game like Satt’s offense was was. We’re going to dig into one of Plummer’s starts for Brohm at Purdue, back in 2021 against Notre Dame when both schools were undefeated in September.

Above- This looks like a one-read type of throw. Plummer is looking at the boundary safety. When that safety bails they dump off to the RB who makes a ND linebacker tackle in space after running 25 yards across the field. The LB over-pursues the swing route and the back cuts inside of him, using the LB’s momentum against him.

Above- Plummer isn’t going to out run edge rushers. Instead he drifts back and uses space to create time. Brohm’s offense has ‘rush routes’ on every concept. That allows Plummer to dump the ball off and avoid sacks.

Above- 4th and 1 and Purdue went jet sweep... that’s one thing at the +5 yard line but another midfield. ND hawks it down in space. You’re also on a vital play and giving the ball to a non-regular ball carrier.

Above- I’m not sure if blitzing Purdue to death will work for new Miami DC Lance Guidry. Every time ND tried to really bring heat, Plummer got rid of the football. The Brohm offense has their rhythm routes and rush routes built in, beautifully.

It feels very Dub Maddox R4 unlike say Josh Gattis who didn’t have routes breaking in 1.8 seconds, or a rush route for a dump off.

Above- Purdue setting ND up with making their nickel back have to close down and force this run.

Above- He misses and it goes for an explosive. Force DB’s to make LB play in this modern era of 3-3-5 and 4-2-5 defenses.

Above- Even off a hitch up Plummer unloads this fade up the numbers and drops a dime. Great throw and catch here from Purdue.

Above- The damn red zone fade works here for a TD. If you’re going to do it, it’s 1st and goal!

Above- The kind of thing that’s burned Miami for years, QB’s just mobile enough to pick up a 1st down with their legs on 4th and 8.

Louisville defensive scheme

Louisville head coach Jeff Brohm brought all three of his coordinators with him from Purdue including his brother, Brian, and co-DC’s Ron English and Mark Hagen. English is a defensive backs coach by trade and has to be head over heels with the L’ville DB depth.

We all know that Mario Cristobal wants to establish a Jim Harbaugh type of program at Miami. So much so, Cristobal hired away one of Harbaugh’s co-OC’s before last season in Josh Gattis. That experiment failed, but in the end both Mario and Jim want to run the damn ball.

Above- I mean if you have an NFL caliber QB and a WR that can high point like this- anything is open! I hope Tyler Van Dyke doesn’t throw into double coverage as much as JJ McCarthy does.

Above- Another Peyton Manning NFL throw. The 15-yard out zips perfectly. It’s a big time throw because it’s so hard to defend. The route is under the CB and away from the safety while over the LB. But ‘what’s open?’ clearly Purdue was a soft zone team and Louisville might not be because the still will have more talent in the back five now.

Above- Fergus Connelly says that space creates time, it’s clearly true here. Having a mobile QB helps to create an open WR. McCarthy doesn’t try to force the back pylon, he throws this one towards the seam. His ability to move and create space, creates time for the TD.

Above- We saw Purdue set this up on ND, and now Michigan is using it on Purdue. Creating the right set up and using the blocking scheme to make the CB the force player with no outside force help. Bunch ‘em up and pick up the DE and LB, this creates a 1on1 at the LOS with the CB and then a 1on1 with the S who is coming down to fill they alley in run support. Any good back can shake a CB and make a move off a S.

Above- You know Mario sees three TE’s and a double ISO and thinks:

That’s the Cristoball Cristobal wants to run, bully ball from his time at Alabama. Even Bama doesn’t run that style of offense anymore, but Mario’s favorite song is En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go (Love)

Above- Some form of Y-Cross? The receiver er works his way across the field to 20-yards or so with a shallow cross underneath.

Above- I’m a huge fan of Split Zone. I used it like a series as an OC. You have the main run concept of SZ, RPO tags off of it (bubble, quick, pop, post) and play-action or boot type play-action (flood). Here it technically doesn’t work by scheme with the scrape exchange Purdue uses, but the RB breaks the tackle (or two) and picks up a 1st down. Miami has all of these blue chip running backs- why can’t they ever seem to do this in a game?

Above- Post-flat is a great combo and the WR to the top just runs a seam. Plenty going on to keep the S away from the post route.

Above- Swinging gate with a mobile QB. Again, his legs create space thus time and he doesn’t force the throw to the pylon, it goes back closer to the seam which is typically open in the end zone.

Canyonero Keys to Victory

The Cards were never really that bad under Scott Satterfield, they were just never that good either. Satt finished 25-24 with three bowl appearances before taking off for the Cincinnati Bearcats job. Jeff Brohm on the other hand pushed Purdue to a Big Ten West title.

1- Pressure Jack Plummer. Miami has two former NFL players as coaches working with the defensive line. I’ve been led to believe that their playing prowess should translate to coaching chops. So where are the big pass rushers and sack numbers? Plummer isn’t Malik Cunningham, get pressure on him and make him fold. The Brohms drive the offense through their QB’s.

2- Establish the run. Louisville’s defense is their strength and their defensive backs are the strength of their strength. I’m not sure if you want Tyler Van Dyke forced to throw into Duck, Brownlee, and Riley on an ‘and long’ basis. ‘Canes fans were promised this ground and pound run game, I’m ready to see it in ‘23.

3- Win the kicking game. Jordan is an elite kick returner and Miami hasn’t been elite in return coverage. Andres Borregales needs to boot touchbacks and make his field goals. Miami can’t afford shanked punts from their new punter, bad coverage, or missed FG’s. This will be a close one at Hard Rock.

Prediction: Miami by 3.