Louisville vs Georgia Tech football game first look: Story lines, key players, odds, more

Louisville Courier Journal
Week 1 of the college football season is finally here.
Louisville football's long-awaited Jeff Brohm era begins Friday night when the Cardinals open their season, and ACC play, at Georgia Tech. While U of L returns much of its defensive personnel, the Cardinals’ offense will have many new faces and a new system.
Here are three story lines to watch during U of L's opener:
Two new head coaches
Friday's matchup between the Cardinals and Yellow Jackets features two head coaches beginning their tenures at their alma maters in Brohm and Brent Key.
Brohm is 1-1 in head coaching debuts, winning his first-ever game as a college head football coach at Western Kentucky but falling to U of L in his first game at Purdue. Key’s current position at Georgia Tech is his first head coaching job. Last season, as the Yellow Jackets’ interim head coach after former head coach Geoff Collins was fired, Key went 4-4 — winning at Pitt and beating Duke in his first two games.
How good is Louisville's defense?
Louisville’s defense was statistically one of the best in the country last season. Despite losing key players like lineman YaYa Diaby, linebackers Yasir Abdullah and Momo Sanogo as well as cornerback Kei’Trel Clark, the unit has the potential to be even better this season. The Cardinals have a deeper defensive line group, which includes a healthy Jermayne Lole, and used the transfer portal to add to their secondary and linebacker unit.
The talent, on paper, bodes well for the Cardinals as does the matchup with Georgia Tech. Despite having to start the season in conference play, Louisville’s defense will face a Yellow Jackets' offense that lost starting quarterback Jeff Sims to Nebraska but returns their leading rusher in Dontae Smith.
Louisville’s return to Mercedez-Benz Stadium
The Cardinals are no strangers to the Atlanta Falcons’ home stadium. They opened the 2021 season there against Ole Miss, falling 43-24 to the Rebels. Quarterback Malik Cunningham accounted for all four of Louisville’s touchdowns while Ahmari Huggins-Bruce, one of the few players left from the 2021 season, caught two passes for 18 yards.
The Cardinals’ defense struggled, giving up 381 passing yards to Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral.
Louisville, which finished the 2021 season with a 6-7 record, is a completely different team two years later and will be hoping for a better outcome in Brohm’s first game as the Cardinals’ head coach.
Three Louisville players to watch
Jack Plummer, Gr., QB: Now reunited with Brohm at Louisville after four years together at Purdue, Plummer begins his final season of college football. He totaled a career-high 3,095 passing yards last season, in his lone year at California.
Ashton Gillotte, Jr., DL: Taking a bigger role as a leader on the team, the Cardinals’ defense starts with Gillotte, who is expected to have a breakout season. The junior has the opportunity to set the tone during Friday night's ACC road game.
Jawhar Jordan, R-Jr., RB: After working his way up the depth chart in 2022, Jordan proved his mettle as the Cardinals’ leading rusher. As one of the most experienced returning players, he’ll debut in a new offense and expand his skillset with more catches out of the backfield while possessing the same speed.
Three Georgia Tech players to watch
Haynes King, R-So., QB: The Texas A&M transfer earned the Yellow Jackets’ starting quarterback job over Zach Pyron, who started in two of three games played for Georgia Tech last season. King completed 104 of his 187 passes (56%) for 1,220 yard, seven touchdowns and six interceptions in six games last season for the Aggies.
LaMiles Brooks, Jr., DB: The Bednarik Award watch list selection returns after leading the Yellow Jackets in interceptions with three (one for a touchdown), in addition to seven pass breakups and 52 tackles while starting in 10 of 12 games played. Pro Football Focus graded him as the fifth-best returning safety in the country.
Dontae Smith, R-Sr., RB: With Hassan Hall gone, Smith is Georgia Tech’s leading returning rusher after totaling 420 yards and a team-best five touchdowns on 87 carries over 12 games played.
Louisville vs Georgia Tech odds
Louisville is a 8-point favorite against Georgia Tech, according to BetMGM.
How to watch Louisville vs Georgia Tech game
Who: Louisville (0-0) vs. Georgia Tech (0-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium; Atlanta, Georgia
TV: ESPN
Streaming: Qualified subscribers can watch the game online at espn.com/watch.

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