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Hokies' Preview & Prediction: Louisville Cardinals

By Sam Stromberg | November 03
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Oscar Smith alum Cam'Ron Kelly celebrates after Louisville's win over NC State on September 29 (photo via The Courier Journal).

#13 Louisville Cardinals (7-1, 4-1)

When the Hokies take the field at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday, they will have one thing in mind: win. Despite what HC Brent Pry may say, in the back of his mind, he knows the significance this game holds. This isn't just "any game."

This is what I like to call an ACC Cross Conference Collision.

Virginia Tech (+9.5) @ Louisville (-9.5); o/u48.5



Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky

HC: Jeff Brohm (first year, previously HC at Purdue)

On Offense

OC: Brian Brohm

Leading the Cardinals on offense is former Purdue and Cal QB Jack Plummer. Plummer, a senior from Gilbert, Arizona, stands 6’5” 215 pounds. Plummer has been decent, but not great in 2023. Through the air, Plummer has racked up 2,018 yards and 13 touchdowns. Plummer has also thrown eight interceptions on the year. Virginia Tech’s DB’s have been very solid thus far, ranking top-10 nationally in pass yards allowed per game. Plummer is not necessarily a threat on the ground either, so I think the Hokies can handle him.

In the pass game, Georgia State transfer Jamari Thrash is the featured pass-catcher. Thrash has 46 receptions on the year. The next closest to him is WR Kevin Coleman – he has only 17. That’s a pretty big disparity. Thrash also leads the team in yards and receiving TD’s. At 6’1” 185, Thrash is a future NFL guy. The Cards are not afraid to give Thrash the ball on the ground either – he is a pure playmaker and is certainly dangerous in open space.

Once Virginia Tech target WR Amari Huggins-Bruce is also active on this Card’s offense. At 5 '11”, 175, Huggins-Bruce has serious speed and can be a deep threat. This Louisville WR room does not have a lot of size; however, their speed and quickness will surely get after you.

The true weapon on this Louisville offense, though, is RB Jawhar Jordan, AKA Jaws. At 5’10” 185, Jordan is everything you want in a RB. He's a fast, physical back and may be the toughest one the Hokies face all year long. Jordan is averaging a whopping 7.6 yards per carry, good for fourth in the nation. Against what has been a somewhat shaky Virginia Tech rush defense – at least during the first half of the season – Louisville will try to establish a ground game and exploit the Hokies. Expect Jordan to get around 20 carries.

Louisville has given up 17 sacks on the year, good for 71st in the nation. Former Virginia Tech offensive lineman Bryan Hudson plays center for the Cards as a sixth year senior and is a proven leader and run/pass-blocker.

On Defense

DC’s: Mark Hagen and Ron English

The biggest “dog” on this Louisville defense may come from on the defensive line in DE Ashton Giollotte. Giollotte, at a menacing 6 '3'' 270, has 8.5 sacks on the year, one of the few players in the nation who compares to VT’s Antwan Powell-Ryland statistically. He will certainly be a matchup nightmare for Xavier Chaplin.

In the defensive backfield, the Cards have former Virginia Tech commit, turned Auburn signee into UNC transfer, then UVa transfer (for a semester), and now finally at Louisville, Cam’Ron Kelly. Kelly is second on the team in tackles, only behind LB TJ Quinn. The Cards also have UNC transfer CB Storm Duck. Duck has not been targeted much, but as a corner, that's usually a good thing. Louisville has given up 212 passing yards per game, ranking 41st nationally.

This Louisville defense pitched a shutout last week against a talented Duke squad. A game prior, they let up 38 points to a not-so-talented Pitt squad, one the Hokies beat by three scores. The main strength of this Louisville defense is the rush defense, ranking 7th in the nation for rush yards allowed per game (91 yards). For Virginia Tech to find success on offense, it will have to establish somewhat of a rushing attack, and despite Bhayshul Tuten’s recent successes, it may be tough.

Final Prediction

I like where Virginia Tech stands in this matchup. The Hokies have all the momentum in the world, led by a versatile QB who is tough to prepare for. The Hokies must maintain this aggressive style of defense we've seen recently if they want a shot at leaving Louisville with a dub. The Hokies are 0-3 on the road, but that tells me one thing: they are due for a road win. Road dogs.

Virginia Tech 23 - Louisville 21

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Been a Hokie fan ever since I can remember. Immensely passionate about journalism and Virginia Tech sports. Go Hokies!

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