Powell, Froman out against Syracuse

Louisville will try to snap an 11-game Big East road losing streak Saturday at Syracuse without starting quarterback Adam Froman and leading rusher Bilal Powell.

Louisville will try to snap an 11-game Big East road losing streak Saturday at Syracuse without starting quarterback Adam Froman and leading rusher Bilal Powell.

Both Froman and Powell were injured last week in a 20-3 loss to Pittsburgh. Powell left the game with a knee injury against Pittsburgh early in the quarter and didn't return. He was listed day-to-day, but has experienced swelling around his knee this week. Froman suffered a thigh contusion at Pittsburgh.

Senior Justin Burke or junior Will Stein will get the start in Froman's absence. Burke started three games as a junior, and has appeared in two games this season. He completed 5-6 passes for forty yards and a touchdown in a 56-0 win over Memphis, then threw an interception in his only pass attempt late in the game at Pittsburgh last Saturday. Stein, who started two games as a sophomore, appeared against Memphis but didn't throw a pass.

Louisville has a little more proven depth behind Powell, especially with junior running back Victor Anderson returning. Anderson has missed the past three games due to a shoulder injury, but rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman. Anderson has rushed for 245 yards this season and went for 108 yards against Arkansas State.

Justin Burke might make his first start of the season Saturday afternoon against Syracuse.
Redshirt freshman Jeremy Wright and senior Blayne Donnell are also expected to carry the load with Powell out of commission. Wright, 5'11, 200, is similar to Powell in that he is both fast and physical. Though he's only carried 14 times for 95 yards and a touchdown this season, his workload figures to increase significantly with Powell out, and Anderson returning from injury. Donnell, 5-8, 195, has rushed for 77 yards this season.

"[We] still have Jeremy Wright, who came in to finish the game. Then, you have Blayne Donnell, who came in and played also," UofL coach Charlie Strong said. "If Vic is ready to go, you feel really confident with Vic because he has been a starter. We have some guys who can go play, and you still have your offense line... Guys are going to have to turn it up a notch and play better than they have been playing."

Though it figures to be an uphill struggle without Powell and Froman, Saturday's game figures to be a critical game for the Cardinals, who need a win to even their league record. A loss to the Orange would drop the Cardinals to 1-3 in the Big East, leaving little margin for error in their remaining three games.

"We have to learn how to play on the road, and we still have not done that," Strong said. "Counting Saturday, we have lost 11 straight games on the road. We have to find a way as a coaching staff where we can get our guys to compete on the road."

Snapping their losing streak against Syracuse won't be easy. The Orange, picked to finish at the bottom of the Big East, have been the league's surprise team, winning six of their first eight games this season, including a 31-7 beating of Cincinnati last week. Syracuse enters the contest second in the Big East behind Pittsburgh with a 3-1 league mark.

"We are going to a tough environment this weekend," Strong said. "We are going to Syracuse and it is going to be a packed dome. Our players need to learn how to play on the road. It is going to be critical."

"Being a young football team, we just need to overcome adversity on the road," tight end Cameron Graham said. We have done that a couple of times, but we just need to be consistent and play well for 60 minutes."

With two of his offensive stars out, Strong still expects a lot from a team still learning what it takes to win on the road.

"Anytime you go on the road, you have to have focus. You cannot be distracted and it takes discipline," Strong said. "Guys have to learn you have to fight. There is going to be an emotional swing where their crowd gets into the game. You have to go play great defense to take their crowd out of the game. 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."

Louisville's offense has been struggling of late (The Cardinals haven't scored a touchdown the last 10 quarters] and they'll face a tough test against a Syracuse defense that has held four opponents to less than 10 points this season. Syracuse has forced at least two turnovers in five games this season, including three against Cincinnati last weekend. The Orange have forced 34 turnovers the past two seasons.

"They are really good up front. They create a lot of turnovers and putpressure on offenses," Strong said. "You look at the game this past weekend and Syracuse's offense got the ball twice inside of the Cincinnati 16-yard line. They are really disruptive on defense."

"They looked pretty solid on the defensive line," Graham added. "They are a pretty good defense that plays together. They swarm to the football."

The Orange offense, which averages 330 yards and 25 points per game, is led by quarterback Ryan Nassib, running back Delone Carter and wide receiver Van Chew. Nassib has thrown 14 touchdown passes this season, while Carter has rushed for 764 yards and seven touchdowns. Chew has caught 31 passes for a 16.2 average and five touchdowns.

"They are a really good football team that is playing with a lot of confidence and is not beating themselves," Strong said. "On offense, they do not do anything fancy. They just control the ball, and when they get their opportunities, they go score.

"Defensively, they are creating a lot of turnovers. That is how they beat West Virginia and South Florida. They are not turning the ball over. They went up to Cincinnati and beat a really good Cincinnati team this past weekend."

Can Louisville step up to the challenge without Powell and Froman against Syracuse and win their first Big East road game since 2007? Strong is anxious to find the answer.

"The challenge is there," Strong said. "I challenge our football team to play well on the road and see if we can go win a football game on the road."

Kickoff is scheduled for noon. The game will be televised on the Big East Network, WBKI in Louisville.

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