Louisville Football Notebook

Louisville faces a critical Big East at Syracuse this weekend. Though Bilal Powell remains questionable, Victor Anderson has been cleared to play against the Orange. Scout.com breaks down the upcoming game between Louisville and Syracuse.

Louisville's 20-3 pasting by Pittsburgh marked the Cardinals' 11th consecutive road loss in Big East play.

At the beginning of the season, Syracuse would have seemed like the ideal opponent to break that streak against. The Orange was predicted to fight the Cardinals for the basement of the conference. But while Louisville has been a pleasant surprise in starting the year 4-4, Syracuse has been a full-fledged stunner, already bowl-eligible at 6-2.

The last time the team travelled to the Carrier Dome is one the veterans remember well. It came in 2008, when the Cardinals took on a team with a 2-5 record and winless in the Big East and limped home with a 28-21 loss.

"It is very loud in the dome," senior tight end Cameron Graham said. "We were there in 2008 and there were not that many people there, but it was loud."

The coaching staff thinks it knows what the players need to do. It's just a matter of getting it done.

"Anytime you go on the road, you have to have focus," Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said. "You cannot be distracted and it takes discipline. Guys have to learn you have to fight.

"You have to go compete and have confidence. I do not know if we have enough confidence. Guys need to believe in themselves that we can go win a road game."

Whether running back Bilal Powell will be there to help them is another story. He's day to day with what looked to be a minor knee injury suffered against Pittsburgh. Victor Anderson is battling an injury of his own, so if neither of them can go it will likely be up to redshirt freshman Jeremy Wright to carry a greater share of the load.

NOTES, QUOTES
--One of the big issues this season has been penalties. Louisville has been called for six or more penalties six times in eight games.
--A key factor in the improvement of Louisville this season has been the scoring defense. The Cardinals are allowing 18.8 points a game after giving up 26.2 points per game a year ago.
SERIES HISTORY: Syracuse leads Louisville 5-4 (last meeting, 2009, 10-9 Syracuse).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: This week, the offense is all about question marks for the Cardinals. Adam Froman is battling a thigh bruise, and may have to sit in favor of Justin Burke. Both Bilal Powell and Victor Anderson are banged up at running back, as is Josh Bellamy at wide receiver. That can only make it more difficult for the offense to shine against Syracuse.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Louisville's defense has allowed just two touchdowns in the last eight quarters, and one of those came on a short field following an Adam Froman fumble. But it did allow Pittsburgh three extended drives for points and had a hard time getting off the field against the Panthers. It could do itself a favor this week by not allowing another seven third-down conversions in 16 attempts.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The challenge is there. I challenge our football team to play well on the road and see if we can go win a football game on the road." -- Louisville coach Charlie Strong on his team's road struggles and this week's trip to Syracuse.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Louisville at Syracuse, Nov. 6 -- Louisville has been solid this season but is still looking for some credit in the Big East when it travels to upstate New York this week. The Cardinals not only have a 10-game road losing streak, they also have won just three Big East games over the last three years.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The offense has to get it going. Louisville's defense is holding opponents to just 318.8 yards per game, but that won't mean much if the Cardinals can't find the end zone themselves.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
WR Doug Beaumont -- Beaumont has been on a roll since missing two games with a knee injury, the first games the senior has missed in his four years at Louisville. He's had 14 catches over his last two games, seven each against Connecticut and Pittsburgh.
RT Greg Tomcyzk -- Tomcyzk is one of the leaders of the offensive line, which deserves a lot of the credit for the success of the Cardinals' running game. Exactly how much credit does the unit deserve? We may find the answer this week, as the top two running backs on the depth chart may both miss the game.
RBs Jeremy Wright and Blayne Donnell -- Wright, a redshirt freshman, and Donnell, a senior, weren't rated highly on the depth chart a few weeks ago. But with Bilal Powell questionable for the Syracuse game, Wright and Donnell could be the centerpieces of the ground game this weekend. The duo has combined for 172 rushing yards on the season.

ROSTER REPORT:
--RB Bilal Powell has swelling on his knee following a tough hit in the Pittsburgh game. Coach Charlie Strong defined his status as both "day-to-day" and "week-to-week."
--QB Adam Froman came out of the Pittsburgh game with a thigh bruise. Justin Burke would get the start in his place if Froman isn't healthy enough to play this weekend.
--RB Victor Anderson is hoping to play for the first time since injuring his shoulder Oct. 9 against Memphis. He's missed the last three games, though he did dress against Pittsburgh, and was cleared to play against Syracuse. Anderson returned to practice Tuesday.


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