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Syracuse football opponent preview: What to know about Louisville

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ With a five-win resume appearing to be insufficient for reaching a bowl game this year, Syracuse (4-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) is essentially in must-win territory when it travels to Louisville (6-4, 3-4 ACC) for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The Orange hasn’t beaten UofL since 2012. SU hasn’t won on the road this season and has lost all three games since upsetting then-No. 2 Clemson in mid-October. “You’re on the edge of the cliff,” senior linebacker Zaire Franklin said when asked about the sense of urgency SU must play with, “and you’re either going to jump or you’re going to fight.”Here’s a look at what the Orange faces in Louisville.All-time series: Louisville leads, 9-6.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLast time they played: In a 62-28 win, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson posted a Syracuse opponent record of 610 total yards in one of the more dominant performances of his 2016 Heisman campaign. The Cardinals scored three touchdowns on their first five plays from scrimmage and SU never recovered. The viral image of Jackson hurdling Orange cornerback Cordell Hudson and walking safely into the endzone has properly summed up the drubbing since then.“When I first saw it, I said, ‘Wow,’” SU head coach Dino Babers said of the infamous hurdle on Monday. “And then I said, ‘That better not ever happen again.’”Louisville Report: After beginning the season ranked 16th in the AP poll, the Cardinals have been relatively disappointing. All four U of L losses have come to ACC Atlantic opponents — Clemson, North Carolina State, Boston College and Wake Forest. Last week, Louisville used a strong second half to get past Virginia at home, 38-21.On offense, everything runs through Jackson, who has accounted for 36 of Louisville’s 46 touchdowns. But the Cardinals also now have three healthy running backs to supplement Jackson’s legs in Reggie Bonnafon, Malik Williams and Dae Williams. Bonnafon is the only one of the trio to average less than six yards per carry (4.7).Louisville’s struggles have sprouted from defensive problems, as opponents are averaging just under 30 points per game, good for 86th-best in the FBS. The Cardinals’ pass defense ranks 104th, allowing 254.6 yards per game. How Syracuse beats Louisville: If Syracuse’s offense is clicking, which it certainly was during a 38-point first half last week, the matchup with Louisville’s defense won’t be the deciding factor in this one. Franklin, this week, laid out what is. And it’s obvious.“(Jackson) is their offense. He’s the most dynamic player in the country,” Franklin said. “If you want to beat Louisville, you have to stop him. That’s not a secret.”Both Franklin and sophomore defensive end Kendall Coleman said they feel better prepared to stop Jackson compared to a year ago. But that tall task entails limiting the damage done by both the passer and rusher that Jackson is, which means defending option plays — the same offensive scheme that Wake Forest just used to torch SU for 64 points. Franklin said the key to defending the option is not tipping your next move to the quarterback, who’s looking to read defenders and then make his decision to hand the ball off, throw it or keep it himself and run.“(Defending options) is definitely something that needed a correction and corrections are going to happen throughout the week,” Coleman said.Stat to know: 3,000 and 1,000For the second straight season, Jackson has surpassed 3,000 yards through the air and 1,000 on the ground. That had never been done before in NCAA history. The only reason it hasn’t put Jackson atop the Heisman conversation again this year is because Louisville hasn’t started 9-0 like it did in 2016.Player to watch: (Besides Jackson) Jaire Alexander, cornerback, No. 10The junior earned second team All-ACC honors a year ago and should be a high draft pick whenever he elects to head to the NFL. He’s finally healthy after missing a good chunk of the early half of the season. And with SU’s offense built around its passing attack, it’s worth watching to see what Alexander can do to slow down Orange senior Steve Ishmael. If Alexander can slow down Ishmael, that bodes quite well for UofL. If he can’t, a high scoring affair like SU fans saw last week could happen again. Comments Published on November 17, 2017 at 9:07 am Contact: [email protected] | @jtblosslast_img

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