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Jeff Brohm on QBs behind Tyler Shough

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Louisville safety MJ Griffin and wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks are healthy again after injuries last year, Cardinals coach Jeff Brohm said Monday.

Griffin tore his ACL during fall practice last year and missed the 2023 season, while Brooks suffered a shoulder injury last season at Alabama. Brooks was limited in the spring but is now back to full play.

“Of course we’re protecting him, but he’s at full speed,” Brohm said of Brooks. “He looks good. He has to be an important part of our offense.”

Brohm gave updates on his team on Monday, adding that offensive lineman Renato Brown is “back to 100%” after his season-ending injury at Pitt last year and is expected to be ready to play by fall training camp.

The Cardinals are coming off a successful spring season that saw Texas Tech transfer quarterback Tyler Shough make his debut at the University of Louisiana. Brohm was pleased with the way the seventh-year player was able to show off his arm. Although Shough can run the ball, the focus is on protecting him to prevent him from suffering a fourth consecutive season-ending injury.

Brohm plans to take advantage of the great depth of his offensive line and rotate nine or ten players.

“We can spend some time with him, and we did, and I’m happy with his performance,” Brohm said of Shough. “And I think he can play at a high level. … We get the ball in the hands of our playmakers and don’t have to run him as much. We’re confident in his leadership, in what he brings to the table, and we think he can have a big year.”

With the exception of one player, the program welcomed the rest of its transfer portal additions last month – notably defensive lineman Thor Griffith (Harvard) and tight end Mark Redman (San Diego State) – as well as new freshmen.

While Brohm would not commit to whether the Cardinals have an official “number 2,” he said Pierce Clarkson would be “the next man” after Shough, with Harrison Bailey and Brady Allen “right next to him.”

“We’re always going to have competition there,” Brohm said of the quarterback position. “… We have to be able to use all quarterbacks at any time.”

Clarkson came to Louisville last year as a four-star prospect. He played only against Murray State and had one seven-yard pass. The Cardinals had nine quarterbacks in the game, including Allen and Bailey. Although the team won’t use as many this year – there are only eight on the roster – Brohm assured that each of them would be on the field at some point this season. Last year, Brock Domann and Evan Conley were the only quarterbacks who came in as backups and played in more than one game. Both have now graduated.

“Sometimes you have to assess what each player’s strengths are,” Brohm said. “If you have to develop a certain package for each game to have it ready to go, we’re not afraid of that. So it wouldn’t surprise me if we had those packages ready for different quarterbacks this year. And then unfortunately if one goes down, like your starter, the next guy has to be ready to step in and win a game for you.”

Likewise, Brohm had 2023 packages for Conley, many of which were running plays. He finished the game with 42 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.

Louisville knows what it has in experienced defensive players like Ashton Gillotte, Dez Tell and Ramon Puryear. But it became important for the Cardinals to gain even more experience. After the spring season, U of L brought four defensive players out of the transfer portal: Rene Konga, Richard Kinley and Tramel Logan, who is not yet on campus.

The University of Louisiana had already signed three linemen after the season ended: Thor Griffith, Jordan Guerad, who was injured in the spring, and Tyler Baron. But Baron, who now plays in Miami, was one of eight linemen to leave the program in the five months following the 2023 season.

“I think we have a fair amount of depth on the defensive line and we can play with quite a few players,” Brohm said. “You want to see players emerge who can make a difference and take over the game. But at the same time, we’re going to have competition.”

This line is expected to play a crucial role in the success of the team’s defense.

“We’re going to be able to use a lot of players on defense,” Brohm said. “We want to be as aggressive as possible, but still not allow big plays, keep the score low and force turnovers. I like our plays. Without question, I expect our defense to play very well this year.”

Reach Louisville football, women’s basketball and baseball sports reporter Alexis Cubit at [email protected] and follow her on X at @Alexis_Cubit.