Search

11 Louisville

Aug. 15, 2005
Aug. 15, 2005

Table of Contents
Aug. 15, 2005

Sports Illustrated Bonus Section: Golf Plus
Catching Up With
SI Players: Life On and Off the Field
SI Players
Baseball
TRACK AND FIELD
PRO BASKETBALL
Inside Motor Sports
Inside Baseball
Inside The NFL
COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2005
Departments

11 Louisville

The high-powered Cardinals make the jump to the Big East-- and immediately become the class of the conference

Two years ago, when Brian Brohm was being hailed as the top high school quarterback in the country, he and his father, Oscar, attended practices at several high-profile colleges that were wooing him, including Notre Dame and Tennessee. Afterward Oscar, a former Louisville quarterback (Class of '69) whose two older sons, Greg ('92) and Jeff ('93), also had played for the Cardinals, spoke to Brian as objectively as he could. "You know," Oscar said, "Louisville's players are as good as any of those teams we visited."

This is an article from the Aug. 15, 2005 issue Original Layout

What may have seemed like crazy talk at the time was validated last season, when Louisville went 11--1 and finished a school-record sixth in the final AP poll--higher than the Fighting Irish (unranked) and the Volunteers (No. 13). This year the Cardinals take another step up in prominence, moving from Conference USA to the BCS-affiliated Big East, and Brohm, who took Louisville's Trinity High to three straight state championships, will be the starting quarterback. He takes charge of an offense that led the country in points (49.8) and yards (539) per game in 2004 and promises to be just as powerful, with the return of running back Michael Bush (like Brohm, a former Kentucky Mr. Football), All-America tackle Travis Leffew and a deep receiving corps.

As a freshman last season Brohm backed up senior Stefan LeFors, who led the country in pass efficiency. Still, coach Bobby Petrino made sure Brohm saw plenty of action, inserting him into all but one game. The 6'4", 224-pound Brohm completed 67.3% of his passes and showed considerable poise for his age--most notably when LeFors went out with a concussion in the fourth quarter of a tight game against Miami. Playing in the hostile Orange Bowl in front of a national television audience, Brohm led his team to a go-ahead touchdown, completing all four passes on the scoring drive. (The Hurricanes came back to win 41--38.) "After the Miami game," said brother Jeff, "I realized he could pretty much do anything."

A onetime backup to Steve Young for the San Francisco 49ers, Jeff has more than a familial interest in Brian's development--he's also the Cardinals' quarterbacks coach. And Greg is the team's director of football operations. It's been a postgame tradition dating to Brian's junior high days for the brothers to get together afterward and pick apart Brian's performance. Now he hears it on a daily basis. "He can be a little hard on me because I'm his brother," Brian says of Jeff, "but he knows everything about me. He knows all the little details of my motion. It's great to have him in my corner." Louisville fans are saying the same thing about Brian. --S.M.

FAST FACTS

2004 RECORD 11--1 (8--0, 1st in C-USA)

FINAL AP RANK 6 RETURNING STARTERS 15

KEY RETURNEES (2004 stats)

QB Brian Brohm (Soph.) Conference USA Freshman of the Year

RB Michael Bush (Jr.) Gained 889 yards from scrimmage as backup

T Travis Leffew (Sr.) Started a school-record 38 straight games

K Arthur Carmody (Soph.) Hit all 77 extra-point tries, an NCAA record

TELLING NUMBER

49.8

Points per game scored by the Cardinals, who led the nation. They rang up 50 or more points in seven of their 12 games.

GAMEBREAKER

There's more than one running back named Bush who has Heisman-caliber skills. Much bigger than Reggie at USC, the 6'3", 250-pound Michael Bush is a bruising runner who as a sophomore backup in 2004 averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored seven TDs. He was a record-setting quarterback at Louisville's Male High but shifted to running back after the Cardinals signed Brian Brohm.

SCHEDULE

Sept. 3 at Kentucky

17 OREGON STATE

24 at South Florida

Oct. 1 FLORIDA ATLANTIC

8 NORTH CAROLINA 15 at West Virginia 22 at Cincinnati

Nov. 3 PITTSBURGH

11 RUTGERS 26 SYRACUSE

Dec. 3 at Connecticut

COLOR PHOTODAVID KLOTZ/WIREIMAGE.COM TESTEDBrohm got plenty of snaps as a freshman to ready him for the starter's role.