We’re starting your week off by reminding you that the Syracuse Orange are 1-0 to start the new football season! Not only that, but they won against an ACC foe in Louisville that has dominated SU the past few seasons.
Now there are a lot of things that you could credit for the win: an improved offensive gameplan, great containment on Cardinals’ QB Malik Cunningham, and three key turnovers all come to mind. Instead, I’m going to go with something that may sound familiar to the longtime ‘Cuse football fans: a fake quote used by Louisville.
During ACC Kickoff, LB Mikel Jones was asked about the opening matchup against Louisville. Here’s what was actually said...
Q: You look ahead to week 1, you have Louisville. How tough of a challenge is that for the defense with an explosive offense and an explosive quarterback like Malik Cunningham?
A: We see it as a good opportunity. We don’t think it’s going to be a tough challenge. We’re excited to play those guys the first week.”
...with the recorded press conference to prove it:
However, a reporter from Louisville TV station WDRB tweeted out the quote incorrectly, changing the wording and cutting out part of Mikel’s response. Not long after, Cunningham posted this image on his Instagram story:
If that was actually what Jones said, it’d be worthy bulletin board material. But considering that a) it wasn’t, and b) that same reporter has doubled and tripled down on his stance, it’s fitting that it completely backfired and Malik had one of the worst games of his career.
What I get from Mikel’s answer is that the defense were taking an optimistic view (“good opportunity”) instead of a pessimistic one (“tough challenge”). I’ll admit that he could’ve worded the second sentence better but since there are various clips of him and others on the defense praising Cunningham, I highly doubt they were taking his abilities lightly.
In the postgame presser on Saturday, Jones spoke about the quote and Cunningham’s reaction:
“He’s a very nice quarterback, and I am aware of the quote. They kind of messed up my response from ACC Media Day, and Louisville fans didn’t let me live with that. They’ve been on my phone for the last two months, so it’s something that’s been in the back of my head. He’s a great quarterback, and I’m happy the defense was able to go out there and contain him.”
(#3’s final stat line was nine tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Think he got the last laugh?)
What’s ironic is that a similar situation played out almost a decade ago. Late in the 2012 season, a 9-0 Cardinals squad marched into the Dome to take on the 4-5 Orange. You’d think that the #11 AP / #9 Coaches’ Poll team wouldn’t need more motivation to stay unbeaten, but they came up with something anyway - a cardboard cutout of then-Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib that they proceeded to trash pregame.
Notice anything? Yep, that’s another fake quote that the Cardinals thought was a good idea. I’d call this the more heinous one since it was pulled out of thin air. If you take five seconds to look into this, you’d find out that the Orange actually lost their previous two Senior Days before this so I really don’t understand the desire to temp fate.
Sure enough, Syracuse scored 31 points in the first half and never let up in a 45-26 statement win. There were absolute magicians at every position. Not only did the Orange ruin the Cards’ perfection-bid, it also kicked off a four-game winning streak to close out the campaign (including the Pinstripe Bowl victory over West Virginia).
Now all we need for the rest of the season are fake Sean Tucker tweets calling out other backs instead of evaluating himself. As if our Heisman would ever do that...