As college football season draws ever-closer, we’re running down Indiana’s schedule to preview all 12 opponents for 2023.
Indiana will face Louisville in Indianapolis in its second non-conference game on September 16. It’s the first of a three-game series that will include home-and-home games in 2024 and 2025. The Cardinals have a new head coach leading the way in 2023, and he’s a familiar face for IU fans. After years of speculation, former Purdue leader Jeff Brohm has returned to his alma mater.
- Opponent: Louisville
- Date/Time/TV: Saturday, September 16, Noon, Big Ten Network
- Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
- 2022 record/postseason result: 8-5, 4-4 ACC
Returning production, offense: 67 percent (per Bill Connelly/ESPN)
Offensive outlook: Brohm is regarded as an offensive guru, so what you may have come to know about Louisville in recent years will be no more. It would be more instructive to look at Purdue, where the Boilermakers ranked first or second in passing offense in the Big Ten in each of the last five years.
Projected starting quarterback Jack Plummer played for Brohm at Purdue before transferring to Cal last year. He looked good in the spring game, completing 10-of-13 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. With the Boilermakers, Plummer amassed 3,405 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions after redshirting in 2018. In 2022, his lone season at Cal, Plummer threw for 3,095 yards, 21 TDs and nine interceptions.
The Cardinals return a potent duo at running back in Jawhar Jordan and Maurice Turner. Jordan was Louisville’s leading rusher with 815 yards and four TDs on 142 carries a year ago, while Turner added 314 yards on 65 carries as a freshman.
Wide receiver and tight end are more unknown, with open competitions for snaps. Louisville added five transfers and three freshman at wideout, and they return very little meaningful experience at tight end. Along the offensive line, Louisville returns a couple starters, and Brohm added four players from the portal with starting experience.
Returning production, defense: 54 percent (per Bill Connelly/ESPN)
Defensive outlook: Louisville’s defense might look familiar to IU fans when the teams face off in September. The Cardinals are installing a 4-2-5 scheme similar to what the Hoosiers have run over the last seven years under Tom Allen. And there’s a connection to Indiana and Allen on the Louisville staff. Former IU player and assistant Mark Hagen is the co-defensive coordinator.
Although the scheme is changing, there is a foundation to build from, especially up front. The Cardinals held teams to 19.2 points a game last year and outshined the offense in the spring game. They return six starters but have some rebuilding to do, especially at linebacker.
Although they lost YaYa Diaby to the NFL Draft, the Cardinals’ defensive line should test an IU offensive front that needs to show major progress. Ashton Gillotte headlines the group. He led the Cardinals with six sacks last season. Most of the production up front is back from a defense that led all of the FBS in sacks per game at 3.85 and were seventh in tackles for loss per game at 7.5. But much of that production came from the linebackers. And most of their top players at that position from last season are gone.
There is some experience in the secondary. Jarvis Brownlee is a talented cornerback. He had 66 tackles, two interceptions and 12 pass breakups a year ago. Also returning at corner is Quincy Riley, who had three interceptions. Also back are safeties Josh Minkins (55 tackles, one interception) and M.J. Griffin (45 tackles, two interceptions).
Special teams outlook: Louisville lost both their punter and field goal kicker to the transfer portal. Brock Travelstead is the only returning scholarship kicker. The kickoff specialist last season, he averaged 61.5 yards per kickoff on 70 kicks. He is the most likely candidate to take over as the day one field goal kicker, but doesn’t have any field goal attempts in college. There appears to be an open competition for the punting job, with Brady Hodges entering fall camp as the favorite.
Jawhar Jordan is back after he averaged 25.21 yards per kick return (third-most in ACC), including a touchdown. Jackson State transfer wide receiver Kevin Coleman Jr. appears on track to return punts for the Cardinals.
Overall Outlook: It would come as a surprise if Brohm did not eventually get Louisville rolling. The question is — how soon? He was just 19-25 in his first four years at Purdue, before going 17-9 over the last two campaigns there. Similarly, he was 8-5 in his first year at Western Kentucky before going 22-5 the next two years. Brohm will have the luxury of starting out with a quarterback familiar with his system, and some continuity in his coaching staff. Indiana will enter the critical September contest very familiar with Brohm, however, although Tom Allen was just 1-4 head-to-head. This is one of a handful of games on the schedule that seemingly carry a “must win” label if IU is to get six wins this year. But while it certainly seems winnable, they’ll likely enter the game as an underdog.
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