Oct. 24, 2011
||SATURDAY GAME INFORMATION
||Matchup: Louisville (3-4, 1-1) vs. Syracuse (5-2, 1-1)
||Date/Time: Saturday, Oct. 29 / Noon
||Site: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (55,000)
||TV: BIG EAST Network
||TV Talent: Mike Gleason (pbp), John Congemi (color)
||Radio: WHAS (840/790 WKRD); SIRIUS Ch. 92/XM Ch. 194
||Radio Talent: Paul Rogers (pbp), Tony Stallings (color), Doug Ormay (sidelines)
|Louisville vs. Syracuse Notes
|SELECTED QUOTES: Charlie ~nbsp>Strong
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Louisville head coach Charlie Strong met with reporters on Monday to preview this week's BIG EAST home game against Syracuse. The Cardinals and Orange will kick off on Saturday at noon ET at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in a game that will be televised regionally by BIG EAST Network and locally by WHAS-TV.
Strong opened Monday's news conference by recapping the Cardinals' 16-14 home win over Rutgers on Friday night. Louisville finished with a 187-91 rushing advantage and did not allow a sack offensively while also closing the night with a +2 advantage in the turnover battle.
"We had an outstanding win the other night against a good Rutgers team," Strong said. "Defensively, early, we were able to come up with two turnovers which were critical. One of our freshmen, Calvin Pryor, got a ball that was batted up and (Adrian) Bushell was able to get underneath it (second interception). (We forced) three turnovers. When you look at us on offense, we gave up no sacks against a team that came in leading the conference in sacks. (We had) one turnover. The one turnover was a ball that Teddy (Bridgewater) was trying to throw away that kind of hung on him. (It was good) just to see our team go out and play offensively, defensively and in the kicking game."
One of the most impressive performances in the Cardinals' win over Rutgers was the play of the offensive line. Along with keeping freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater clean and unsacked in the game, the line also helped open running lanes as sophomore Jeremy Wright rushing for a season-high 108 yards on just 11 carries.
"What was so good last week with the offensive line was we ended up with a net of more than 175 yards rushing. We were able to run the ball with Jeremy Wright," Strong noted. "We were finally able to get a back to rush for over 100 yards. Protection wise, we did not give up a sack. It was the best game they have played all season."
Strong told reporters that playing with confidence and belief are two of the most important components that his team needs as the season goes forward. Whether it was on offense, defense or on special teams, Strong expects his 2011 Louisville team to believe it will succeed on every play.
"Our team needs to play with confidence and they need to play with trust," he explained. "Guys need to start believing in one another. If we can get that accomplished, we have a chance to build on this win. You look at the win from the other night and we have a chance to step forward and that is what we were able to do because Rutgers was a good football team."
Strong then turned his focus to Syracuse, the Cardinals' opponent this week. SU enters the weekend following an impressive 49-23 home win over then-No. 11 West Virginia last Friday night. Head coach Doug Marone is in his third season leading the Orange.
"Syracuse is an outstanding team. They have a good balance between the run and pass," Strong said. "If you look at them on offense, it is a team with a lot of seniors. They lost an outstanding back last season, but the back right now is doing a good job in running the ball. The offensive line is very good. Their quarterback, Ryan (Nassib), does a good job of just managing the offense. Defensively, they come with a lot of pressure, similar to us. You watch them play on defense and they are a very exciting team. They create a lot of turnovers. You look at the Rutgers game and Rutgers was able to beat them (Syracuse). But then, they go and beat a good West Virginia team. It is going to be a good matchup for us and we are going to have to play extremely well, extremely well, to go beat this football team."
Later in the news conference, Strong looked at the ever-changing BIG EAST title race. Despite only two teams playing more than two conference games entering the weekend, Cincinnati is the only remaining unbeaten team in BIG EAST play with a 2-0 league mark. Rutgers is second at 2-1, while Louisville, Syracuse, West Virginia, Connecticut and Pittsburgh are in a five-way tie for third. USF is the only BIG EAST team winless (0-3) in conference action.
"What's great about the BIG EAST is there's no playoffs, and there is no game there at the end," he said. "Some team could lose one. Some teams could lose two. Cincinnati has no losses right now (in the BIG EAST). Each week, we have to be prepared to play. It's wide open. You have to play well."
Strong also addressed the status of senior cornerback Anthony Conner, who suffered a broken neck while making a tackle on the first play of the second quarter of the win over Rutgers. Conner was carted off the field and immediately taken to Jewish Hospital where the injury was fully diagnosed. Strong was informed of the extent of Conner's injury late in the fourth quarter and then told the rest of the team in the lockerroom following the game.
"We lost an outstanding player in Anthony Conner," said Strong. "When you watch the play, we watched it from the sideline. (Mohamed) Sanu was running a crossing route and Anthony is kind of sitting there waiting on it. He goes and makes the hit and then goes down. I was at the hospital this morning right before he went into the surgery. He was in good spirits. Right before (the surgery), we were talking about the Syracuse game. He said, `I just wish I had a chance to play.' I said to our team yesterday, `You never know. That is why I always talking about today, not tomorrow. Live in the moment. Enjoy the moment.' That is what our football team needs to understand."
Here is the official statement from Strong regarding Connor's surgery on Monday:
"Anthony had a surgical procedure done today at Jewish Hospital by Dr. (Richard) Holt. We have some of the (most) outstanding medical surgeons in the country here in this city. The surgery will be done to help stabilize a cervical fracture. Anthony continues to maintain good feeling and movement in all of his extremities."