Doug Marrone is concerned. He's been concerned all week. The Orange aren't exactly the aggressor here against Lousivlle, they're not the mighty bully facing off against the underdog. Still, with SU's stock skyrocketing, HCDM is trying to keep a firm grasp on solid ground as the Orange prepare for a tougher-than-you-originally-thought Louisville squad.
"We're playing a team in Louisville that I don't feel very good about how we match up against," Marrone said. "They're a good team with more starting experience than any team we've played until this point, overall, offense and defensively. We have a lot of work ahead of us."
Louisville has the 13th-ranked pass defense in the nation, which means Ryan Nassib, who has iffy the past few weeks, is either going to have to get better in a hurry or risk being a non-factor.
Complicating matters is news that right tackle Michael Hay was wearing a boot on his left foot Tuesday afternoon at a Syracuse University football practice. If Hay can't go, redshirt sophomore Ian Allport and redshirt freshman Andrew Phillips will vie for the starting spot.
On a team that's already down to 55 scholarship players, every injury is magnified that much more. That's why when WR Van Chew does not participate in full drills, like he did on Tuesday, it gets Syracuse fans on high-alert.
This isn't to say the Orange don't feel good about themselves. On the offensive side of the ball, the O-line and RBs have come up big lately. Perhaps they'll have earned the right to wear those t-shirts they made for themselves at the beginning of the season:
Bartholomew and his fellow offensive linemen, caught up in their determination to transform themselves from zone-blocking patsies into smash-mouth sluggers in the off-season, had shirts made for themselves that proclaimed "We Run This Town."
"We did it because we kind of had the mentality that we were going to run the ball," left tackle Justin Pugh said.
If SU keeps winning, those shirts might come to mean more than just a good running attack. The Orange currently average 152 rushing yards per game, a decent improvement from last year.
Speaking of rushing, the Cardinals also have a great running attack. They're still waiting to hear whether or not Bilal Powell will be able to go. Even if he isn't, they've got some insurance now that Vic Anderson has been cleared to play. The Big East's Rookie of the Year in 2008, has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury.
Interesting sidenote...Louisville QB Adam "Abe" Froman has been seen on campus walking with crutches (no boot). Whether or not that means he's a no-go for Saturday remains to be seen. If Froman can't go, the Cardinals would start senior Justin Burke who started three games last season.