The 2022 season is finally here! After months of previewing and foreshadowing, its time to kickoff a new season of Syracuse football. There was a lot of debate and a lot of discussion over the long offseason about how SU could perform and finish this fall. Well the ‘Cuse’s season opener against Louisville could really be a massive determinant in that.
Yeah, this Saturday is just one game in a twelve game season, but you have to think about the magnitude this victory could have if the Orange successfully secure it. Perhaps a win in week one, in both the home and ACC Dome opener could propel Dino Babers and company to a 5-0 start ahead of a massive four game stretch? On the flip side, maybe a loss will kill the buzz in the Salt City before it even has a chance to take off. Orange Nation would wholeheartedly prefer the former. So how can Syracuse get off to a 1-0 start and knock off U of L? Here’s three ways.
1. Pass Effectively
The 2021 rendition of this contest was an absolute disaster. Syracuse traveled to the Bluegrass state coming out of a bye week and it looked as if Babers’ team had completely forgotten how to play football. SU scored a whopping 3 points in a 38 point loss. Here’s why SU mustered up just a single field goal: the offense racked up 46 passing yards. Yes, 46.
As a result, the Cardinals put everybody and their mother inside the box and stacked it so tight and heavy is resulted in extra charges from the postal service. The ACC’s rushing leader from last year was bottled up with just a 95 yard showing. Want to move the football and score points against Louisville? Move the ball through the air and force the Cards defense to spread out and respect the aerial attack.
2. Turn Louisville One-Dimensional
The Cardinals offense is stacked and under the tutelage of a guru in Scott Satterfield. Louisville has a dynamic quarterback in Malik Cunningham and a four-man rotation in the backfield featuring players that could each start at most FBS schools. What does U of L not have? A proven, prolific WR1.
That guy was Tyler Harrell but he surprisingly transferred to Alabama leaving a massive vacancy on the outside. Who does Louisville have? Ahmari Huggins-Bruce who caught six passes for 54 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season. Additionally, the Cardinals have an FCS transfer in Tyler Hudson. The Central Arkansas transfer makes the jump to big boy college football after logging 167 receptions for over 3,000 yards in three seasons with the Bears.
Louisville is really high on its prized possession from the transfer portal. While the numbers might be insane, they do come against lesser competition. Can Syracuse clean up its down field coverage and mitigate the Cardinals passing game? If Garrett Williams, Duce Chestnut, and the safeties can play clean then it’ll force U of L to resort to its ground game.
3. Convert 3rd Downs
This should be a key for every game this year, but it’s heightened against Louisville. Between the 2020 and 2021 games, Syracuse managed to convert on just 4/24 of its third down opportunities. That’s just simply not going to cut it. You need to extend drives and command time of possession if you’re Syracuse and keep the offense on the field. Even hovering around 40-45% on Saturday night would do wonders for this squad. It’s important to win the early downs and stay in third and short to medium range and move the sticks.
If Syracuse can check the box on even one of these things, they have a very good chance to win this game. Unfortunately, history tells us that the Orange will accomplish none of these requested outcomes. We’ll see if that has changed at all in a few short days.