clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Syracuse vs. Louisville football preview: Q&A with Card Chronicle

Louisville’s been... busy this season.

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 13 Syracuse Orange (7-2, 4-2) are on a three-game winning streak, and they’ll try to make it four on Friday night against the Louisville Cardinals (2-7, 0-6), who’ve been underwater for over a month now.

Since we’re not Louisville fans (thankfully), we went ahead and asked one about what to expect in this game. Card Chronicle’s CardinalStrong (who you can follow on Twitter) joins us to talk about the Cardinals. We also answer some questions over there.

Let’s cut to the chase: What the hell happened this year?

Last week I described the issues at Louisville as a “lasagna” of sorts, simply because there are so many layers to how we got here today. I enjoyed that reference so I’ll stick with it here. [fingers to my lips] Bellissimo!

I understand the simply answer of fans pointing to Lamar being gone as to why they stink, but Jackson wasn’t out there catching passes, laying down pancakes in the trenches, or stopping the opponents run game. As much as folks want to point to 2017 as “Lamar and a bunch of dudes,” that certainly wasn’t the case in 2016 (ranked as high as No. 3 nationally), 2015 (5 conference wins), or even back in 2014 before he stepped foot on campus and they had a team that won nine games in the ACC and beat Notre Dame on the road.

I’ll spare you the extended version but in short, it has become more and more evident the staff leaned on Lamar to act as a band-aid to make certain areas appear better than they were, they also didn’t capitalize on his success and the team’s success in recruiting (and still aren’t), they allowed Petrino’s “my way or the highway” approach to run off good coaches and deter other good coaches from coming on board, and in my opinion, I think part of all of this is just other coaches/staffs finally catching up to Petrino’s offensive mind. One last thing, that I hesitate to mention as I don’t like calling out specific players, is that the “heir apparent” to the throne in QB Jawon Pass, who Louisville fans have been talking about for over four years.. well, he just doesn’t look that good. Maybe he can improve, but we’ve seen little evidence of that ten games in.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Do you wish Bobby Petrino was fired already, or would you rather he witnesses this tortuous death of his own making?

Ask me seven days ago and my answer would be “you always ride the season out, there is no benefit to letting someone go midway through the year, having to name an interim, put the players in bad spot, etc, etc, etc.” BUT we got a major problem right now. Not only are the decommitments for the 2019 class stacking up like waffles at the hotel breakfast buffet but current players…players who have played in multiple games THIS season, are throwing up the deuces and taking their talents elsewhere, including backup QB Jordan Travis and starting corner Russ Yeast…and there are rumblings this list could continue to grow much sooner than later.

The ship is sinking quickly, and trying to bail water with bourbon glasses ain’t gonna cut it anymore. The question was tossed around locally last week that if Bobby was relieved of his duties after Clemson would the attendance for the final two home games and the overall fan support of the team actually increase? My take is…yes. I think folks buy in to the change being made and show up in support of the team moving in a new direction. Maybe that’s not true, but the fact that the question could be asked, and a definitive answer isn’t immediately known…well, I think that’s your problem.

I guess, while we’re here, how’s things in general at U of L? Been a pretty rough go these past few years (and especially recently)...

Things blow, John. Thanks for asking.

There is no avoiding it at this point and no way, in my opinion, to try and frame things in a positive light. Is there some really cool stuff going on right now at UofL? Of course there is, including a Top 5 women’s basketball team, a baseball team looking to get back to Omaha, and a new chapter in the men’s basketball program under Chris Mack. The problem is those are building blocks just to get us back to a place of balance. The scandals, the trials, the books, the lawsuits, the FBI…it can all take a toll on a man, and if nothing else, winning games helped ease the pain.

In the 2018 calendar year basketball and football, the two moneymakers, haven’t done much in that area to make folks feel okay. The reset of the basketball program has been a breath of fresh air for many considering how well Mack has handled it since landing the job and lots of folks are hoping a certain special someone currently residing in West Lafayette, IN could do the same for the football program.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Who would you prefer Louisville hires if Jeff Brohm isn’t interested in the head coaching job?

The truth of the matter is that there are a handful of quality coaches out there if they whiff on Brohm… but boy, oh boy… you better not whiff on Brohm. The backlash from the fans, donors, local media, etc would be through the roof for months and would really put the new guy in a tough spot. Many people around here, with no knowledge of anything coaching related, already assume it’s a done deal getting Jeff back home. That’s a tough spot for new AD Vince Tyra as getting a very challenging deal such as that completed will garner little fanfare or adulation. Why celebrate something was a foregone conclusion, right? Things could be setting up for another huge UofL heartbreak and I’m not sure how people would handle it.

I think if you can’t get Brohm, you go get Mike Norvell from Memphis or you give Neal Brown from Troy a sniff. If you’re just looking to energize a fanbase… maybe Les Miles gets a call.

How are you going to stop Eric Dungey on Friday night given the defensive struggles all season?

I don’t know. My honest response is that they won’t. I really hope they do, but there is nothing I can point to that can back that up. I think Dungey slices them up in the passing game when he needs to, but Dino Babers is no dummy and he has seen just like the rest of the country has the last few weeks that Louisville’s rushing defense can stop no one, and Dungey and Moe Neal will likely both go for close to 100 yards on the ground. I’d assume BVG at some point in time will get frustrated with getting torched by simple power dive or off tackle runs and put another body in the box (maybe) in which case Dungey will probably throw for 300 yards. I don’t know what you want from me, John. It’s bad. Like 125th nationally in ‘scoring defense’ and 128th nationally in ‘rushing defense’ bad.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Other than Dungey, who’s the SU player that most concerns you?

I mentioned Neal, who is a solid back in my opinion but an average back could likely put up decent numbers Friday night. The problem for me, on top of everything else, is that aggressive defense that isn’t afraid to pin their ears back and get to the QB. The UofL O-line surprisingly hasn’t been all that great this year (I’ll wait while you regain your composure). Coleman and Robinson on the Syracuse line could be another issue for the Cards and will presumably force Jawon Pass into situations where he has to make quick decisions and try and protect the ball. So far this year, that strategy has worked out pretty well for the opposition.

Is there an unsung Cardinals player Syracuse fans should familiarize themselves with?

Chatarius “Tutu” Atwell is a true freshman wideout who can make plays when given a chance. He’s Top 5 in the ACC in yards/rec at 17.77. He’s small, he’s elusive, and he’s very fast. Another guy who I think has been a bit under the radar is freshman LB Yasir Abdullah. He won’t jump out at you on the stat sheet but always seems to play with his head on a swivel and position himself in a spot to be successful.

Compose a tweet to Lamar Jackson describing your current emotional state about your football program:

Lamar, why did you leave me here….when I specifically asked you not to?!?

If Louisville somehow pulls off an upset here, what would need to happen?

The Louisville offense looks better than it has been all year, throws up a couple quick scores to take an early lead, and the defense finally gets some things clicking forcing Syracuse into an early hole. Louisville has a back that finally steps up the plate (Hassan Hall?) and goes for over 100 yards. Syracuse will have to struggle some on offense, and possibly give up the ball a time or two creating a short field for the Cards. If UofL pulls this out they will absolutely need to catch a few breaks. As sad as it is to say, at this point in time they can’t keep up with Cuse on the scoreboard.

Prediction time: Who wins this one, and how does it happen?

My gut says what really happens is likely the inverse of what I just described above. I think a Syracuse team, looking to get some payback from the last few seasons comes out energized and they jump up early 14-0 or 17-0. UofL will put some points up to keep it respectable until mid way through the second half when the defense is exhausted from chasing Neal and Dungey all day they let some big plays go to create some separation. I’ll say 42-17, Orange.


Thanks again to CardinalStrong for taking the time here. Be sure to check out Card Chronicle for everything Louisville, and follow the site on Twitter, too.