Heading into their second meeting since becoming ACC foes, the Hokies and Cardinals each look for a big-time victory inside L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 3:30 pm ET, with the game set to air on the ACC Network.
Protecting The Ball
Since taking over as the team’s starting signal-caller a few weeks ago, Tech quarterback Kyron Drones has done a masterful job maintaining possession when the Hokies have the ball.
Dating back to the 35-16 loss to Rutgers a little over a month ago, Drones has thrown 151 consecutive passes without getting picked off, surpassing Sean Glennon’s previous mark of 149 consecutive throws without an interception back in 2007.
Additionally, Tech has only turned the ball over four times over the last five games and has only coughed it up eight times over the year.
On the flip side, Louisville’s forced a league-best 15 takeaways so far this season, picking off nine passes in the process.
“It starts with their front,” second-year head coach Brent Pry said. “They’re so active. They’re a problem up front, [they’re] disruptive. That creates problems down the field. We’ve got to be able to protect Kyron and give him a chance to find an open receiver.”
A Threat To Contain
With the Hokies two-thirds of the way into the season, it’s safe to say that Tech has seen some imposing threats on the ground.
Though there are some respectable options across the board, not many stack up against the Cardinals’ star running back, Jawhar Jordan, who continues to impress in 2023.
Currently, in his third season suiting up in the Bluegrass State, Jordan sits second in the ACC with 824 yards on the ground so far this year, finding the end zone on 10 separate occasions and averaging a whopping 7.5 yards per carry.
That’s not all. Jordan’s 21 carries for a career-high 163 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over Duke marked his strongest performance to date, certainly raising some eyebrows from the Hokies’ contingent leading up to Saturday’s matchup.
“He plays like a bigger back,” Pry said. “He breaks tackles. He runs through guys. I was surprised when I saw he was 185 [pounds]. He plays bigger than that. …He’s quick. He’s fast. He’s tough.”
Tech should be well-equipped to stop such a talented back, though. The Hokies only allowed a combined 35 yards on the ground the past two weeks in victories over Wake Forest and Syracuse and limited the Orange to a whopping zero yards rushing—the fewest the program has allowed since 2012.
The run defense as a whole has certainly improved, and Tech will have to continue its high-level play to be successful on Saturday afternoon.
Gallery: (10-30-2023) FB: Halloween Outing
The Band’s Back Together
Led by first-year head coach Jeff Brohm, Louisville has certainly had quite the year in Brohm’s inaugural season back at his alma mater.
Pair that up with the acquisition of quarterback Jack Plummer in the transfer portal, and the Cardinals have concocted quite a recipe for success for the 2023 season.
Plummer is certainly no stranger to Brohm’s offensive scheme. The sixth-year senior spent multiple years as the starting signal-caller for the Purdue Boilermakers during Brohm’s time in West Lafayette, playing in 21 games and making 13 starts before heading out west to suit up for the Cal Golden Bears.
After spending 2022 as the primary starter for the future ACC foe, Plummer decided to again enter the portal and reunite with Brohm in the Derby City. A move that has seemingly worked out for both sides with ease.
Plummer’s already amassed over 2,000 yards in the air so far this season, completing nearly 64% of his passes and finding the end zone 13 times over the course of the year.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder has come a long way since facing off against Pry and his Penn State defense back in 2019, with the Hokies looking for the same result as the Nittany Lions had in a 35-7 thumping in Plummer’s redshirt freshman year.
Sacking the quarterback has long been one of the core traditions throughout the history of Tech football. After taking a step back in 2022, this year serves as no exception.
The Hokies have racked up a total of fifteen total sacks over the past two weeks, and all of a sudden they find themselves tied for fourth in the country with a boastful 30 sacks so far this season.
Standout Antwuan Powell-Ryland stands as a big reason why, too. The Florida transfer has totaled a league-best nine total sacks in 2023, serving as a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks throughout the campaign.
Though Louisville stands in the middle of the pack, having given up 17 sacks so far this year, Tech eyes are getting after Plummer and the Cardinals’ front this upcoming weekend.
If the Hokies can do just that, Tech will set its sights on sole possession of second place in the ACC with control of its own destiny the rest of the way.