The Louisville Cardinals have had a bit of a quarterback carousel going this season. Maybe not to the same extent of Syracuse's over the past two seasons. But due to a variety of injuries and inconsistent play, 'Ville has had three different passers see significant time under center. So which of those three -- Lamar Jackson, Reggie Bonnafon or Kyle Bolin -- will the Orange see on Saturday? Seems that's still to be determined.
According to Cards coach Bobby Petrino, he "expects" Jackson to start, but will be playing wait-and-see based on the ankle he tweaked in last week's win over Wake Forest. Bonnafon, last year's starter, is currently undergoing concussion protocols, so you could assume he's ruled out against SU. If neither can go, that leaves things up to the sophomore Bolin, who's thrown for over 1,100 yards in sporadic action over the last two years. In 2015, he's 32-of-56 for 433 yards, one TD and two picks. He went three-of-four against Wake for 38 yards on Friday.
So with Bonnafon the least likely option at QB, what could Syracuse see in the other two? In Bolin, it's a traditional, drop-back passer much like the Orange saw in Florida State's Sean Maguire last week. Where he could fall short a bit is with his throwing speed -- over the summer, he was actively working to put more velocity on the ball. Since he's not the most accurate passer, that speed could make or break him, should they opt to exploit the Orange deep. If they go the short, screen-based route as other teams have (and FSU tried early on), it wouldn't factor in as much.
In Jackson, however, SU would be up against a much more versatile playmaker. The freshman leads the Cardinals in both passing (1,342 yards) and rushing yards (484), and appears to be cutting down on mistakes throwing the ball of late. He's arguably much more dynamic on the ground, but also takes a lot of hits (sound familiar?), which can take its toll over the course of a game (and season). With his ankle being an issue, it could inhibit his mobility even if he still manages to start. If Jackson is potentially forced to stay in the pocket against Syracuse, he'll be challenged to make quick releases and continue his recent trend of accuracy. Over the last three weeks, he's completing 63 percent of passes, for 744 yards. On the year, he's hitting just 57.9 percent of receivers.
We'll know more as the week goes on for Louisville, but the Orange should make sure they're prepared for whichever Cardinals player is under center, and the challenges he could present.