’23 Notre Dame Game Rankings #5: Irish and Cardinals Set to Tussle in Road Battle

Notre Dame enters unfamiliar territory to take on new-look Louisville

Starting off the month of October, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will travel to take on the Louisville Cardinals for only the fourth meeting ever between the two schools. Notre Dame holds a 2-1 advantage in the series, with the Irish winning the only other meeting in Louisville. That 35-17 victory kicked off the 2019 season, a year in which Notre Dame finished 11-2.

The Cardinals have a new mentor on the sidelines in Jeff Brohm, who compiled a 36-34 record at Purdue over six seasons. Brohm’s decision to leave the Boilermakers after two consecutive winning seasons was because of the opportunity to return to his alma mater. From 1989-93, Brohm was a quarterback for Louisville and threw for over 4,600 in his final two seasons.

Louisville Offense: Transfers Offer Quick Fix

The Cardinals needed a new quarterback and Brohm used the transfer portal to bring in a familiar face in Jack Plummer. While Plummer is transferring from Cal, he previously spent four seasons under Brohm at Purdue, so he should have no problem adapting to his new surroundings. Over his collegiate career, Plummer has 47 touchdowns with only 19 interceptions and threw for just under 3,100 yards last year.

Keeping the Louisville running backs in check will be a challenge for the Irish, with Jawhar Jordan coming off a team-leading 815 yards and sophomore Maurice Turner contributing 314 yards on the ground. There’s also Wisconsin transfer Isaac Guerendo, who has the versatility to be used on runs, in passing situations as well as special teams.

The dearth of returning talent at wide receiver required a large transfer infusion for the Cardinals, led by Georgia State’s Jamari Thrash, who brings speed to the lineup. Jadon Thompson arrived from Cincinnati and will likely be part of this starting unit, along with former Jackson State wideout Kevin Coleman. Brohm’s offense offers plenty of opportunity for tight ends to shine, with freshman Jamari Johnson possibly making an immediate impact.

Two key returnees, center Bryan Hudson and right tackle Renato Brown, stand out among the offensive linemen, with more transfers filling holes in this area. That’s especially true of the left side, with tackle Eric Miller following Brohm for Purdue and the guard spot likely taken by Virginia transplant John Paul Flores. Rounding out this group, Michael Gonzalez is the current favorite to start at the right guard spot.

Louisville Defense: Changes Converge with New Arrivals

Shifting to a 4-2-5 defense, the Cardinals hope to improve even more this season after holding five 2022 opponents to 10 points or less. One player who ended up as a key player was junior end Ashton Gillotte, who surged into opposing backfields and was also solid enough to play the run well. Dezmond Tell will handle the nose position, though he could be challenged by Arizona State State transfer Jermayne Lole.

Stephen Herron arrives from Stanford and may be used more as an edge rusher, while the weakside linebacker slot could be a battle between T. J. Quinn and Jackson Hamilton. Using Hamilton would offer a mixed bag to the Cardinals since he’s quick but lacks the size to have a real impact. In the middle. Oregon transfer Keith Brown is the odds-on favorite to handle things.

The defensive backfield didn’t miss out on the transfer parade, even though there’s still plenty of talent around. Corners Quincy Riley and Jarvis Brownlee are back, with Riley coming off a team-high three ee picks and Brownless knocking away 12 passes in 2022. That duo might get challenged by transfers Storm Duck and Marquis Groves-Killibrew, with the safety slots being handled by returnees Josh Minkins and M.J. Griffin.

Louisville Special Teams: Major Rebuilding in Progress

Two major holes in the kicking department need to be filled, with Brock Travelstead likely to handle the kicking duties. Brady Hodges is raw, but he may be forced to undergo a quick baptism as the Cardinals’ punter. When Coleman isn’t being used in passing situations, he’s likely to be a fixture on the return teams, given his experience in the roles.

The Last Time Notre Dame Played Louisville

In October 2020, the Irish were ranked fourth in the country, yet emerged with an ugly win by defeating the Cardinals, 12-7. The Irish held a 6-0 advantage at halftime, though a fake field goal that would have given them more than a touchdown lead failed. Midway through the third quarter, Louisville briefly took the lead on a touchdown, but Ian Book‘s 13-yard run then gave Notre Dame the lead for good. The Irish did finish with 232 yards rushing, 127 of that amount coming from Kyren Williams. Overall though, it was a sluggish offensive performance for the Irish.

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