Minutes after Louisville finished a 33-20 upset of then-No. 10 Notre Dame last weekend, first-year Cardinals coach Jeff Brohm sounded a warning.
“Once you win a game like that, the bar goes from here up to here,” he said. “Every week in college football, if you don’t come ready to play, you are not going to win.”
Complacency might pose a bigger danger for the 14th-ranked Cardinals than host Pitt for Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference matchup.
While Louisville (6-0, 3-0) is undefeated and jumped 11 spots in the AP poll this week, the Panthers (1-4, 0-2) are licking a plethora of wounds that come with a four-game losing streak and the benching of a quarterback.
Former Boston College starter Phil Jurkovec, who threw for 5,184 yards and 35 touchdowns in three years with the Eagles, completed just 50.9 percent of his passes before Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi pulled the plug days after a 38-21 loss on Sept. 30 at Virginia Tech.
Penn State transfer Christian Veilleux, who’s completed 12 of 27 passes for 145 yards in two games this year, will get the call against Louisville. Narduzzi hopes Veilleux can provide a spark for an offense that has been held under 300 yards in three of the last four games.
“Christian will be the guy lined up there,” Narduzzi said, “and we expect to have a good week this week. Nobody in our program is happy with where we are right now. It goes to everybody that sits in this room on a normal day here to get it done. Coaches coach and players play. So nobody’s happy.”
Not that lack of production on offense is the sole reason for Pitt’s skid. The Panthers allowed 79 points in ACC losses to North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
“We’ve got to play championship defense,” Narduzzi said. “We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to make more plays. We need to get off the field and give the ball back to our offense.”
That might be easier said than done against the Cardinals. Brohm has put together a balanced offense that pairs the passing of Cal transfer Jack Plummer with the explosive running of Jawhar Jordan.
In the win over Notre Dame, Jordan rushed 21 times for 143 yards, scoring on 45- and 21-yard runs in the second half after Louisville fell behind 10-7. Plummer was an efficient 17 of 24 for 145 yards and a 9-yard touchdown to Jamari Thrash in the first quarter.
Thrash has 30 catches for 519 yards and six scores, while Jordan has rushed for 653 yards and eight touchdowns. Plummer has 1,551 yards in the air with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. In other words, the Cardinals are on pace to have a 1,000-yard receiver, 1,000-yard rusher and 3,000-yard passer halfway through the season.
The Panthers own a 10-9 edge in the all-time series, although Louisville won last year’s matchup 24-10 at home.
–Field Level Media