By Derek DeBurger

As the spring game comes and goes, fans have gotten their first look at the 2025 Cardinals football team.

For a program and a fanbase excited to see the sweet treats within the continued development of Louisville football’s proverbial oven, Friday was like eating the leftover cookie dough.

Louisville’s offense competed against Louisville’s defense on the scoreboards. The offense won 45-37 thanks to a fourth-quarter comeback.

The scoring system was complex and somewhat clunky; the scorekeeper ironically had trouble keeping up at times.  The final score, of course, was not the highlight.

The highlights were the individual performances.

Tyler Shough

The most anticipated player going into the game looked the part. Shough was the first quarterback off the bench and threw a 76-yard touchdown to Chris Bell on the first drive of the game. Shough led a second touchdown drive later in the game, once again completed to Bell.

Shough played every other drive and was effective most of the time when he saw the field. He possesses a visibly strong arm and good mobility, although designed quarterback runs will likely be few and far between this season.

A third-quarter interception was the only discernable negative from Shough. He is a gunslinger of a quarterback, and the interception should warn fans of more to come in 2024-25. The interception, however, was by Quincey Riley, Louisville’s best pass defender.

Pierce Clarkson and Backup Quarterbacks

Clarkson was the first quarterback to come off the bench, and he impressed right away. Clarkson’s first drive included a 60-yard bomb of a touchdown over the top of the secondary. While Clarkson wasn’t pinpoint accurate with all his passes, he made good decisions and played smart.

It’s just one scrimmage, but Clarkson looks like the clear backup as of now.

Harrison Bailey and Brady Allen were the others fighting for the second-string position. Bailey struggled for most of the night, even getting chewed out by head coach Jeff Brohm at one point. He did improve throughout the game, throwing a touchdown in the second half.

Allen showed his athleticism multiple times and looks commanding while throwing the ball. While he seemed to run the offense well, few of his drives ended up successful. One in particular ended in Brohm yelling at a referee for not giving Allen a first down, resulting in a turnover on downs.


Bell was the undisputed star of the spring game. His early chemistry with Shough–two touchdowns–is showing. Bell looked versatile hauling in passes in near midseason form while everyone else was, understandably, still in the offseason.

The rest of the receivers were underwhelming, suffering several dropped passes and a lack of explosiveness. Alabama transfer Ja’Corey Brooks didn’t suit up due to an injury so the receiving room could be better than was on display but as of now, there is definite concern.

The offensive line looked very impressive throughout. Both pass and run blocking were strong by the unit, controlling the line of scrimmage. The pass defense let up some towards the end of the game, but that is more about the defense than the O-line.


The defense’s slow start was in big part due to the rules of the spring game heavily favoring the offense. Once the defense stepped up, it was major. The secondary won the battle against this receiving corps more times than not, and then the defensive line started to win battles against the O-line, giving the passing game fits.

The defense totaled three different interceptions against three different quarterbacks, and a couple of “sacks.”

Most of the defensive points came from stops on third and fourth down. After getting burnt on the first two drives, the defense bent but rarely broke. Louisville showed that last season’s dominance on that side of the field was not a fluke, and they’ll look to take a step forward this upcoming season.

It’s still spring and it’s a long way until the season starts, but the excitement is starting to build. As good as some of these players might have looked, it’s important to note that everyone will improve come week one. I don’t know if the Cards can match their success from last season, but spring is the time for unbridled optimism.

Can they do it? Sure, why not?

Photo Courtesy // Rachel Klotz, U of L Athletics