Brohm adds big play dimension to UofL offense

Last year, college football's most accurate passer played for Bobby Petrino at the University of Louisville. Not much has changed through two games this season – wins over Kentucky and Oregon State – despite Stefan LeFors' departure to the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

Last year, college football's most accurate passer played for Bobby Petrino at the University of Louisville. Not much has changed through two games this season – wins over Kentucky and Oregon State – despite Stefan LeFors' departure to the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

That's because LeFors' replacement, sophomore hot-shot Brian Brohm, is completing 75.51 percent of his passes (37-49) this season, second in the nation behind Fresno State's Paul Pinegar and one spot in front of 2004 Heisman winner Matt Leinhart of USC.

But while Brohm is quickly proving that he's just as accurate with the football in Petrino's offense as LeFors was, there's one big difference that separates the two: Brohm gives the Cardinals the ability to strike deep and score quickly.

Petrino admitted that he protected his young quarterback in first start against Kentucky, instead opting for a heavy dose of his two talented running backs Michael Bush and Kolby Smith. The strategy proved effective as the Cardinals rushed for 220 yards and beat the Wildcats for the third consecutive year under Petrino.

Petrino, though, turned his young gun loose Saturday at home against Oregon State, primarily because the Beavers stacked the box with 8 and 9 defenders to stop the run. The result? 553 yards of total offense, the most ever points allowed by an OSU team (63) and a school record 11.1 yards per play.

The scary part for Louisville's future opponents? The Cardinals racked of most of those gaudy offensive numbers in about two and half quarters, scoring 49 points in the second and third quarters alone.

Brohm says opponents should prepare themselves for even more offensive fireworks and big plays from the Cardinals as the season progresses.

"Going into every game I try to envision that type of game happening," Brohm said. "We expect to go out there and perform like that and we're not satisfied if we don't."

Though Brohm threw five fewer passes against Oregon State than he did against Kentucky, the 6 foot 4, 225-pounder threw for a career-high 368 yards and five touchdowns, completing 18-22 (81 percent) passes. With Brohm in command, Louisville recorded 10 plays of 20 or more yards against OSU, including a 69 yard touchdown strike to redshirt freshman wide receiver Mario Urrutia.

"That's our offense out there that we ran," explained Brohm. "That's the type of things we're going to do this year. The big plays are what we need."

Even more amazing was that it took Brohm and the Cardinals just 50 plays to rack up all those points and yards.

‘It felt like we had more plays than that," Brohm said. "When I looked at the stat sheet and saw that I was like ‘really?'"

After trailing 10-0 to Mike Riley's PAC 10 outfit, Brohm led the nation's 8th ranked Cardinals on an offensive blitz that culminated in a 35-10 lead at intermission. Louisville scored three touchdowns in the last 5:16 of the first half, and scored 49 straight points after Oregon State took its ten point lead late in the first quarter.

"I'm very proud of Brian the way he stood in there," Petrino said. "He got hit early a few times and he was able to keep his vision downfield, keep his poise and keep throwing the ball downfield. And that means a lot. That's really what toughness at the quarterback position is all about."

"Once we get momentum like that everyone just starts making plays," Brohm explained. "Getting that momentum going is very important and we want to try to get it going like that every game."

Brohm was so good against OSU that the word ‘Heisman' is now being thrown around – at least it was Saturday night by ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit. Brohm also was one of four players nominated for National Player of the Week honors and earned Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Still, Brohm has some things to learn. After all, he did throw one interception against the Beavers, his first in 49 attempts this season.

"I basically made the wrong read," Brohm admitted. "I didn't see that guy coming over to make that pick so I've got to get my vision better to be able to see that."

And it now looks like Brohm has found another major weapon in the 6 foot 6, 220-pound Urrutia. After senior Broderick Clark went down with a strained knee on the first play of the game against OSU, Urrutia simply came off the bench to catch 7 passes from Brohm for 175 yards and two touchdowns, including the 69 yarder.

"It's a big weapon we're losing but we're to a point now that we can reload," Brohm said of Clark, who will miss 4-6 weeks. "We've got some guys who can step up and take his spot."

Brohm, though, wasn't surprised by Urrutia's impressive debut. In fact, the Brohm to Urrutia combination might blossom into the best pitch and catch duo in Louisville history, surpassing notable tandems like Chris Redman and Ibn Green, Dave Ragone and 2004 Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch, and Stefan LeFors and J.R. Russell.

"I've seen him every day in practice do those things," Brohm said of Urrutia, who was apart of the same 2004 recruiting class. "We knew with the defense they (OSU) were giving us he was going to have the opportunity to do those things as long as we got the ball up to him. They were trying to press him and play man – and 6-6 going against 6-0 or shorter isn't really fair on the jump ball situations."

The Cardinals next travel to South Florida for their first Big East game against a former Conference USA rival. The Cardinals and Bulls have split their past two meetings, though Louisville won last years game 41-9 at home.

"I think it's a big game and we have to be ready for it," Brohm said. "One of our goals is to go undefeated in the Big East Conference and go to a BCS bowl. We know that if we win each and every (conference) game, we're definitely going to a BCS bowl."

If the Cardinals do that, Herbstreit won't be the only person touting Brohm for Heisman consideration at season's end.

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