The Cardinals entered the game against the Panthers as one of the top offensive teams in the Big East, but couldn't muster any sustained success on that side of the ball against Dave Wannsteadt's defense. Louisville committed two turnovers, failed to crack the endzone and gained only 185 yards.
"We didn't play well," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said Monday on the Big East coaches conference. "We could never sustain any type of rhythm offensively, and we ended up losing our top player on offense – our running back. Defensively we played well enough but we've got to get off the field on third down. And our special teams put the offense in a hole with penalties and we weren't able to drive the football because we kept getting penalties in our kicking game. It wasn't not a good overall team effort."
Now, Louisville, 4-4 overall this season and 1-2 in league play, faces an important game against upstart Syracuse on the road Saturday at noon. The Orange, 6-2 this season, have jumped out to a 3-1 mark in Big East play, just behind Pittsburgh in the league standings.
"Syracuse is playing well and with a lot of confidence," Strong said. "If you look at that team they don't beat themselves. They're playing very well. It's amazing what Coach [Doug] Marrone has done. He's an outstanding football coach. They play really well on defense, and on offense they maintain rhythm and drive the football."
"Bilal has swelling around his knee," Strong said. "He will be evaluated from day to day, week to week."
Senior Blayne Donnell and redshirt freshman Jeremy Wright stepped in for Powell against Pittsburgh and those two could factor heavily in Louisville's plans this week against Syracuse. Strong said that junior running back Victor Anderson, who has missed the past three games with a shoulder injury, will also be evaluated throughout the week.
"Those are the two running backs that we ended up with Saturday so they're going to get a chance to play a lot [at Syracuse]," Strong said. "Vic will also be evaluated this week and we'll see if he's ready to play."
If Powell can't go, Louisville will need a better effort from quarterback Adam Froman and the rest of the offense. Froman struggled against the Panthers and had one of his worst performances in a Louisville uniform. The senior completed just 13 of 23 passes for 85 yards and also committed a pair of turnovers.
"It's not only Froman, it's the whole offense," Strong said. "We didn't block well, we didn't catch well and we had a ton of problems. We had no rhythm and no consistency."
The Syracuse defense has been solid this season, holding four of their eight opponents to less than ten points. The Orange have held opponents to only 298 yards total offense and 17.5 points per game.