In preparing for Georgia Tech, Louisville defensive coordinator Bryan Brown took full note of the running game that the Yellow Jackets will bring to Bobby Dodd Stadium. He was impressed.
“They’ve got some dawgs at running back,” Brown said on a videoconference with Louisville reporters. “Those guys run hard. I mean, they run really, really hard.”
Brown gave praise to freshman running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who made his first career start in the Jackets’ most recent game against Syracuse in place of the injured Jordan Mason. In two games, he has run for 171 yards on 33 carries with six catches for 86 yards.
“The true freshman Gibbs is an unbelievable talent,” Brown said. “When he hits that corner or he hits it down the pipe, if nobody’s there, he’s going to take it to the house. But he runs it hard. It’s going to take all of us to be able to do a great job of tackling. We’ve got to bring our feet and wrap.”
Gibbs, Jamious Griffin and Dontae Smith – to say nothing of Mason, who is not expected to play again Friday with a foot injury – have all demonstrated a tenacity in their running style, breaking tackles and taking on contact, despite Griffin being the heaviest of the three at 218.
Against Syracuse, Griffin drove 228-pound linebacker Geoff Cantin-Arku into the end zone for his first career touchdown, Gibbs broke three tackles on a run play to convert a third-and-10, and Smith escaped the clutches of 291-pound defensive tackle McKinley Williams on a career-long 30-yard run.
Louisville has shown some cracks in the run game, allowing 17 runs of 10 yards or more out of 105 total carries. The Cardinals rank 38th in FBS in rushing defense (145 yards per game).
Brown stressed the importance of gang tackling and closing down spaces to stop the Tech backs.
“Because if we don’t, we’re going to be in trouble and in for a long night,” Brown said. “Because those backs are really, really special. Gibbs, 22 (Griffin), he’s a really good back, as well, and 28 (Smith). Those guys do a great job of running hard. We’ve got our work cut out for us, and we’re up for the challenge.”
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