Exactly one month after tearing ligaments in his right thumb against Miami, the 6'4 junior quarterback made his return to action Saturday afternoon against the Cincinnati Bearcats, leading No. 7 Louisville to a , 23-17, win.
Brohm was solid, but his game clearly had some rust. He drew a rousing cheer from the crowd when he trotted onto the field for Louisville's first possession, and completed 20-of-37 passes for 324 yards, his seventh career 300-yard passing game (second-highest at U of L).
"You're talking about the greatest competitor and one of the toughest guys I've ever coached or been around," said Louisville coach Bobby Petrino. "In John Wooden's Pyramid of Success, at the top is competitive greatness and that's what Brian Brohm has."
Brohm returned to practice last week for the first time since injuring his thumb last month, and his play leading up to Saturday's game against the Bearcats convinced Petrino his star quarterback was ready – and able – to return to action.
"He practiced really well all week long and I made the decision to play him," explained Petrino. "He definitely wanted to play and he certainly did a nice job out there today. I'm proud of the way he played and I think his effort will carry over to our team."
"I tried to get out there, perform on the practice field and show what I could do," Brohm said. "It (the decision on playing) was up to him (Petrino). He knew I wanted to play and I felt I was ready to go."
victory over Cincinnati Saturday
afternoon at PJCS.
Brohm took a considerable amount of snaps out of the shotgun and completed passes to five different receivers. And though he threw 17 incomplete passes, several of Brohm's passes that should have been caught were dropped by his usually reliable receivers.
"I thought he looked pretty good," Petrino said. "He let a couple of passes in the second half get away from him, and I'm sure he wasn't as clean and precise as he wanted to be."
The win moved the Cardinals to 6-0, the best start by a U of L team in nearly 35 years. Keeping Louisville's hopes for an undefeated season and a Big East title alive are what matter most to Brohm.
"We got the win and that's all that matters," Brohm said. "Maybe I wasn't quite as accurate, but I don't want to put that on the thumb. I made those throws all week in practice and should have been able to (today)."
"With the brace on there, it feels pretty much normal. It's getting stronger every day. The one thing I needed to do was to keep my grip warm. It never got hit. I took some hits, but not to my thumb."
Brohm made his worst decision of the game with Louisville ahead, 20-10, and moving the ball inside Cincinnati territory early in the fourth quarter. After two pass interference calls against the UC defense set U of L up with good field position, Brock Bolen ran 11-yards for a first down at the Bearcats' 29 yard line. On the next play, Cincinnati's Keith McCullough intercepted an errant Brohm pass.
"The interception I threw was a dumb decision by me and I shouldn't have done it," Brohm said. "I'm not used to doing that. When the offense isn't clicking, you look at the quarterback. There are some things I need work to get better."
Cincinnati proved a formidable test for Brohm and the U of L offense. The Bearcats held Louisville 21-points under their season scoring average and won the time of possession battle 37-23.
"We saw on film that they were a tough defense," Brohm said. "Our goal was to get out there and get on them early and we didn't accomplish that. They held us on fourth down on our first drive and it took a lot to get things going."