Brohm era ends tonight against Rutgers

The Brian Brohm era will come to an end Thursday night at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium when Louisville (5-6, 2-4) hosts Rutgers (7-4, 3-3) in the 2007 season finale.

The Brian Brohm era will come to an end Thursday night at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium when Louisville (5-6, 2-4) hosts Rutgers (7-4, 3-3) in the 2007 season finale.

Brohm, the all-time Big East passing leader, will play his final game in a Louisville uniform against the Scarlet Knights tonight. In four years, Brohm, whose father and two brothers also played for the Cardinals, has left an indelible mark on the U of L program.

"It's still hard to realize that this is (my) last game at Papa John's and pretty much the last time to put on a Cardinal uniform," Brohm said. "I'm going to try to go out there and make it a special night. It's probably going to be pretty emotional just knowing that it's the last game I'll be playing here. I'm going to try to not let it get to me and play with a calm steady hand out there."

Harry Douglas hopes to go out in winning
style Thursday night against Rutgers.
Brohm, 23-9 as the starting quarterback, will go down as one of the most recognized icons in Louisville sports history. Though his senior season will end in disappointment, Brohm's legacy, including leading the Cards to their first BCS bowl win last January, won't be damaged.

In total, 17 seniors will play their final game for Louisville tonight, including star receiver Harry Douglas. Gary Barninge, Danny Barlow, Brandon Cox, Willie Williams, Malik Jackson, Terrance Butler, Preston Smith, Scott Kuhn, Jon Russell, Deon Palmer, Patrick Carter, Art Carmody, Todd Flanery and Breno Giacomini will also play their final game for the Cardinals.

"It'll be a bittersweet day because (for) a lot of those guys it will be the last time they ever play football," Kragthorpe said. "We have some guys that will get to continue to play football. Unfortunately we're going to lose some very good players and people. We'd like to send them out on a positive note."

Brohm, Douglas and the other seniors will end their careers against a team that ended their national title dreams just one year ago. At 8-0 and ranked No. 3 nationally, Brohm and the Cardinals travelled to Rutgers last November for an important Thursday night showdown. With a win, Louisville likely would have gone on to play against Ohio State for the BCS title. Instead, the Scarlet Knight sprung a 28-25 upset after trailing by 18 in the first half.

"We remember that game and we definitely want to get back at them and win this game," Brohm admitted.

"They put a lot of pressure on (Brian), particularly in the second half," U of L coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "They were able to put a lot of pressure on Brian, minimize the running game and put us in down and distance situations where it was a pretty obvious passing situation. We looked at that film when we first got here and there's no doubt they really played well in the second half of that football game."

Like Louisville, Rutgers has been up and down this season. After starting the season 3-0, Rutgers dropped four of their next six games. But Greg Schiano's team enters tonight's game having won their last two games against Army and Pittsburgh.

"They seem to being hitting their stride again," Kragthorpe said. "They are dynamic on the offensive side of the ball with (Mike) Teel throwing it and Ray Rice running it. They've got receivers that can stretch the field."

If the Cardinals are to have any chance of avoiding the first losing season in a decade – the last time Louisville finished below .500 was in 1997 during Ron Cooper's final season – they'll have to slow Rice, who rushed for 243 yards against Army two weeks ago and has rushed for 1,612 yards on the season.

"I think he's got excellent vision and the feet to make quick and sudden cuts in the hole," Kragthorpe said. "He can be going one direction and instantaneously change directions. And he catches the ball. I think what makes him such a good player is he's a complete player as a running back."

Louisville will also have to figure out a way to move the ball against a defense that shut down the Cardinals high-powered attack last season. Rutgers again boasts an excellent defense this season, ranking 8th nationally in total defense and No. 2 against the pass.

"They are a very good football team and very well coached," Kragthorpe said. "On defense they are very multiple. Greg does a great job taking away what you're good at and they are creative with their blitz schemes."

Louisville's nine-year bowl streak will also likely come to an end after tonight's game. Even with a win over Rutgers, the Cardinals bowl chances appear slim to none.

"The shot of getting one probably isn't likely," Brohm said. "So we're just focused on this game and really just trying to go out the right way at home and win this game."

Kragthorpe hopes his team will play tonight with a positive attitude and give excellent effort.

"I don't think anybody, including our players, our coaches, our administration and our fans like the situation that we're in," Kragthorpe said. "The thing that we can control right now is our attitude and effort in how we approach this game."

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