HOW Louisville CAN WIN
By Jody Demling, CardinalAuthority.com
The Louisville Cardinals haven’t been very good on offense and on the flip side have been sensational on defense through the first five games of the season.
And that’s such a flip of the script that many fans figured this season. But can offensive mastermind Bobby Petrino flip that script going forward. The Cardinals have the talent on the offense they just have to find some consistency.
It might have to come tonight if the Cardinals want to win. Syracuse also has a solid defense and ranks among the tops in the league, so freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon needs to show some major improvement from last week.
But that should be the case with Bonnafon, whose father passed away and was buried two weeks ago tomorrow. He missed a week of practice and was making his first start, so look for Bonnafon to be much improved.
The offense MUST hang onto the ball and not get so many penalties. The Cardinals have nine fumbles lost – six by quarterbacks – and two interceptions on the season and have already been flagged 35 times.
Petrino told his offense this week, start by cleaning it up and then fine-tune some of the little things and it should get a little easier.
On defense, it’s all about pressure for the Cardinals.
Todd Grantham’s defense has been hawking and getting turnovers and sacks at a high rate in recent weeks and that has to continue against an athletic and dangerous Terrel Hunt for the Orange.
The Cardinals are allowing just 58.2 yards rushing per game, lead the country in total defense against FBS teams (200.2 yards a game) and have 10 interceptions and forced two fumbles already this season.
Petrino noted the Cardinals defense have been carrying the load for the offense throughout the season and is hoping the offense steps up.
Louisville needs to limit turnovers, Reggie Bonnafon needs to manage the game better than last week and the defense needs to keep doing what they have been doing and the Cardinals could be successful tonight.
HOW SYRACUSE CAN WIN
By Mike McAllister, CuseNation.com
This game comes down to a few fundamental principles from a Syracuse perspective. It starts in the trenches, where the Orange offensive line was not great last week. The Louisville front seven may be even better than Notre Dame’s, providing yet another big challenge for the men up front.
The key to the Syracuse offense is being successful on the ground. If they are forced to air it out, it is difficult to see a productive offensive night. The Orange are at their best when running between the tackles utilizing a north-south attack as opposed to an east-west approach. Guards Rob Trudo and Nick Robinson along with center John Miller are critical to their success in this area.
When the Cardinals have the ball, Syracuse has to attack freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon. The Louisville offensive line has struggled and given up a lot of sacks. Syracuse loves to bring pressure and will do so frequently in this one. If the Orange are to come away with a victory, they have to get to Bonnafon and wrap him up.
He is a weapon with his legs and dual threat quarterbacks have hurt Syracuse in the past. Pressure packages and tackling technique are critical for Syracuse. Then, when they to Bonnafon, strip sack opportunities are important as well. If the Orange can win the turnover battle, forced by their pressure, they will be in a good position.
Winning the turnover battle also means taking care of the football. Syracuse has been one of the best in the country in that area, but the Cardinals have been one of the best at forcing turnovers. They have 13 on the season, including 10 interceptions. Terrel Hunt’s ability to be efficient and not turn it over will be of vital important in this one.
This game is a battle between two penalty plagued squads. Syracuse has been able to move the ball this season but has not turned that into points, largely because of penalties and other mistakes. They have to limit those, specifically the pre-snap penalties in the red zone.
Lastly, Syracuse has to shut down the Louisville ground attack. Forcing Bonnafon to beat you and making the Cardinals one dimensional plays into what Syracuse wants to do defensively. Forcing them into third and longs, being able to bring pressure and force mistakes because of an ineffective ground attack will be a key to Syracuse’s success.
Despite a two game losing streak, there is not a need for major, overarching changes. Syracuse has to stay the course, continue to do what they do especially on the defensive side of the ball and finally turn that offensive productivity into more points. This is a huge game for the rest of their season.
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