LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With Brian Brohm going deep early and often, Steve Kragthorpe's debut as Louisville coach looked awfully familiar.
Playing with the kind of offensive precision that became the program's trademark under former coach Bobby Petrino, Louisville blasted overmatched Murray State 73-10 on Thursday night.
Brohm threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns in just over a half of work, and the Cardinals (1-0) rolled up 655 yards of total offense against the Racers (0-1). Murray State, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), received $300,000 to drive four hours from their campus in southwestern Kentucky to serve as fodder for Kragthorpe, who was hired in January after Petrino bolted to the NFL.
"It's been a long seven or eight months," Kragthorpe said. "It was nice to get out there going again. I thought we were pretty clean for the most part."
Pretty crisp too. Brohm needed all of one play to find the end zone, hitting Harry Douglas for a 44-yard touchdown pass on Louisville's first offensive play of the season.
"A lot of people thought we were going to have a drop-off after we swapped coaches," Douglas said. "A lot of people had doubts, but we picked up where we left off last year."
Brohm completed 16 of 21 passes, many of them to receivers who had little trouble finding open spaces against Murray State's inexperienced defense.
"We executed well on offense," Brohm said. "We did a lot of things the right way, but we've still got a lot of room for improvement."
Maybe, though it will be hard for the Cardinals to top the ease with which they dispatched the Racers. Louisville scored on all but one possession, and the crowd booed when Kragthorpe opted to run the clock out in the final minute with the ball deep in Racer territory.
"We wanted to finish, scoring every time we had the ball," Douglas said.
Brohm was hardly the lone offensive star. Douglas finished with five receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Gary Barnidge had four receptions for 46 yards and two scores, running back Sergio Spencer rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns and Trent Guy added a 54-yard punt return for a score.
By the time Brohm put a towel over his shoulder 20 seconds into the second half, the Cardinals led 56-10. It didn't get much better for the Racers.
Though they were able to move the ball early against Louisville's revamped defense -- even tying the game at 7-all in the first quarter on a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jeff Ehrhardt to Derrick Townsel -- competitiveness would be fleeting against a team determined to start the Kragthorpe era with a bang.
Louisville's 73 points were the most since it scored 79 against Ogden in 1926 and extended the Cardinals' home winning streak to 19, the second-longest in the country behind USC.
Still, the Cardinals weren't perfect. The defense allowed the Racers to hold the ball for long stretches and missed several tackles. Kragthorpe wasn't asking for perfection, just a basic grasp of his system.
The early returns were promising.
Murray State actually won the time of possession battle, though the Cardinals exchanged quantity for quality. Louisville ate up yards in large chunks, averaging 10.2 yards per play.
"Brian was very sharp tonight. He's a surgeon out there," Kragthorpe said. "He gets us in the right play and he was very sharp from a mental standpoint, in total command."
Ehrhardt threw for 88 yards and a touchdown for the Racers, and Paul McKinnis ran for 72 yards for Murray State, which is coming off a 1-10 season and has 72 underclassmen on its roster.
"We saw speed that we aren't going to see the rest of the year," Racers coach Matt Griffin said. "What I wanted to see was our kids come into this environment and compete and they did that."