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Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Louisville: A Trinity of Coaching Perfection

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

At the halfway point of the 2023 college football season, three guys wearing headsets and patrolling the sidelines have led their respective teams to undefeated records and seek good fortune the rest of the way. The path to that good fortune is fraught with danger for some, not so much for others.

Brent Venables, #5 Oklahoma Sooners

The Oklahoma Sooners (6-0) show little resemblance to the 2022 version that stumbled to their first losing season in 25 years in year one under Brent Venables. The Sooners defense, with Venables’s fingerprints all over it, has shown stark improvement over last year. Oklahoma is minus 16 points allowed on defense this season compared to last season (14 points vs 30 points). That is good enough for #14 nationally.

In addition, the Sooner's defense ranks nationally in the following categories through six games:

· #4 in tackles for loss with 52.

· #1 in INTs with 12

· #14 in Opponent’s 3rd Down Conversion % = 28%

· #9 in Opponent’s Red Zone Defense = 36%

In the Red River Rivalry vs. #3 Texas last Saturday, Oklahoma forced three Texas turnovers, including two INTs by QB Quinn Ewers. But the Sooners did give up 527 yards to Texas.

The offense is vastly improved as well, scoring 45 points per game. That is a +13 over last year (45 points vs 32 points). QB Dillon Gabriel has improved his numbers over the same period last season. Gabriel has thrown for 1878 yards, 16 touchdowns, and only 2 INTs, compared to 1215 yards passing, 11 TDs, 0 INTs, and 62% completion percentage in 2022.

In addition, Gabriel has rushed for five touchdowns on the ground this season, which leads the team. He is completing 72% of his passes. With 0:15 ticks left on the clock and down 30-27, Gabriel found Nic Anderson for the game-winning touchdown and a 34-30 victory.

Oklahoma enjoys a bye week and then hosts the UCF Knights (3-3), losers of three straight, on October 21st. Other games left on the schedule include road games at #23 Kansas (5-1), at Oklahoma State (3-2), vs. West Virginia (4-1), @ BYU (4-1), and vs. TCU (3-3).

Mack Brown, #11 North Carolina Tar Heels

The North Carolina Tar Heels (5-0) have shined bright on Tobacco Road so far this season, led by Mack Brown. Brown is the only head coach at the FBS level to win 100 games at two different schools (104 wins at UNC and counting, 158 wins at Texas and a natty).

This season, Brown had to replace OC Phil Longo, who took the same position on Luke Fickell’s staff at Wisconsin. So, Brown went out and hired Chip Lindsey from UCF as his new offensive coordinator/quarterback’s coach. So far, that coaching hire has paid off.

The Tar Heels offense is ranked nationally in the following categories:

· #9 in total offense @ 500 yards per game.

· #11 in passing offense @ 325 yards per game.

· #18 in scoring offense @ 36 points per game.

QB Drake Maye has thrown for 1629 yards, eight touchdowns, four INTs, and four rushing touchdowns. He is averaging 325 yards per game and completing 72% of his passes. That is good enough for #4 in the FBS.

Brown lambasted the worst organization in the history of worst organizations, that is the NCAA, for their handling of the Tez Walker eligibility case. Brown demanded that he be reinstated. The NCAA had ruled prior to the beginning of the season that Walker was ineligible, then later reversed its decision upon further review of “new” information. Of course, the NCAA blamed UNC for not bringing the new information to light.

Walker played in his first game last Saturday vs Syracuse, catching six passes for 43 yards.

Next up for the Tar Heels is #24 Miami (4-1) at home. The rest of their schedule looks like this:

· Vs. Virginia (1-5)

· @ Ga. Tech (3-3)

· Vs. Campbell

· Vs. #17 Duke (4-1)

· @ Clemson (4-2)

· @ N.C. State (4-2)

Jeff Brohm, #14 Louisville Cardinals

The favorite son and former Louisville quarterback, Jeff Brohm arrived back at his alma mater from Purdue. Brohm has wasted no time in putting the Cardinals on the big stage with a 6-0 record and fresh off a 33-20 defeat of the ahem “mighty” Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

The Louisville offense, the creation of Jeff and his brother Brian Brohm (OC/QB coach) is productive to say the least, ranking in the Top 30 and averaging 467 yards per game. The Cardinals are led by WR Jamari Thrash (30 catches, 519 yards, 6 TDs) and RB Jawhar Jordan (653 yards, 8 TDs, 7.51-yard average).

The Cardinals’ defense is equally productive, also ranking in the Top 30 in total defense and scoring defense. Against the run, they rank #18 in the FBS, allowing just 98 yards per game on the ground.

But they rank #6 in INTs with eight on the season so far. In addition, Louisville ranks 3rd in the FBS in Opponents Red Zone Defense at 58%.

Against Notre Dame, the Card's defense allowed just 44 yards rushing and forced five turnovers, including three INTs by QB Sam Hartman. Louisville Safety Devin Neal picked off two of Hartman’s passes along with racking up eight tackles.

The remaining schedule is more than favorable, avoiding Florida State, Clemson, and North Carolina. The remaining teams on the slate are:

· @ Pitt

· Vs. #17 Duke

· Vs. Va. Tech

· Vs. Virginia

· @ #24 Miami (FL)

· Vs. #25 Kentucky

Can these coaches keep their teams on the current path of success? It should be fun to watch as we begin the stretch run to the college football playoff.


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