Another road trip, another rough stretch for the Orange as they drop back to back contests against USF and Cincy and fall to 4-5 on the season. With only three games left, the Orange desperately need to grab their home finale, however it is against Big East favorites Louisville.
Last season's conference co-champions did so with a roster that sported 11 true freshman and this season, Charlie Strong returns that same experienced and talented crew. The Cardinals are the favorites in the conference and with good reason. Teddy Bridgewater is the preseason conference player of the year and has arguably the conference's best line supporting him. Returning four starters, the Cardinals' line is projected to be the best since 2010. The weapons around Bridgewater aren't too shabby either. Lousiville's wide outs are recovering from injuries but they have a slash and bash running back combo with Senorise Perry and Dominque Brown.The defense is the strength of the Cardinals. Returning almost their entire secondary, their front seven is restocking with players who all had playing time and spot starts last year. Overall, there is no reason to think Louisville can't live up to expectations and win a lot of games this season.
How the Orange should attack the Cardinals:
The Cardinals' defense was one of the best overall defenses in the country last season in overall scoring and rushing while the secondary was weak. This year, the secondary returns virtually all players and nickel back Terell Floyd is just as good as the rest. Expect teams to avoid the air game and try to run the ball on a depleted front seven that returns just two starers. Preston Brown is moving from outside linebacker to inside in order to give a place for hybrid end/backer Deiontrez Mount. Their tackle position will be a four man rotation of sophomores and juniors who failed to separate themselves in camp.
Running the ball seems to be the safest and smartest way to play the Cardinals. Their inexperienced line is the one vulnerability and if by the time Louisville comes to the Dome they haven't established themselves, the hogs of Cuse will need to take advantage. Otherwise, Syracuse will have to out scheme Charlie Strong's defense because the secondary is deep enough to cover all of Ryan Nassib's potential options.
How the Orange defend the Cardinals:
Louisville has one of the most compete offenses in the entire league. Their offensive line returns four starters and has a running game to block for. Dominque Brown is a punishing runner to compliment speedster Seniorise Perry and both will be aided by goal line specialist Corvin Lamb (5-9, 216). Bridgewater has the arm to make some plays through the air, the question is will someone step up to make the grabs? DeVante Parker had six TD's in just 18 receptions last season while Eli Rogers looks to build off his freshman year. Third WR duties fall squarely on oft injured Damian Copeland.
For the Orange, they will need to have a fantastic game defensively to get the win. The corners will have to be able to play effective man coverage so that Syracuse can stack the box to stop the Cardinals' rushing attack. The front four along the line will also need to be able to stand their ground against an experienced line so that the linebackers can put pressure on Bridgewater. Safety #SHAMARKO Thomas will have to have a big game flying around the entire field.
X-Factor: Scott Shafer
The defensive coordinator will need to find a way to neutralize Teddy Brigewater's impact and make Louisville one dimensional with an effective scheme his players can carry out.
This one could get ugly real quick for the Orange if the defense doesn't step up. This Louisville attack is very good and will be able to control the clock with their run game to keep their superb defense fresh. There's too much young talent here for Syracuse to overcome and I think the Cardinals spoil
homecoming Orange Central Senior Day with a 28-10 victory.