LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
Things are getting very interesting on South Floyd Street. For the first time in school history, the University of Louisville football team is 9-0 overall, 4-0 in the BIG EAST Conference.
Louisville faces one of its biggest challenges of the 2012 season when it visits the Carrier Dome to face Syracuse on Saturday, Nov. 10, at noon on ABC.
“This is a big game this week against Syracuse,” said head coach Charlie Strong. “It is a road game, and anytime we go on the road, we know we have to pack our defense, our special teams, and our discipline. What is key for this game, and when I think back to this game a year ago, when West Virginia went into Syracuse and West Virginia was ranked and Syracuse played extremely well. What we cannot do is lose our focus and we have to continue to execute and continue to get better.”
The Cardinals know the Orange are a dangerous team with one of the best quarterbacks, Ryan Nassib, in the country. Despite losing at Cincinnati last week, the Orange proved that they are more than capable of knocking off the 10th-ranked Cardinals.
“Well, you look at them on offense; they are very balanced,” said Strong. “They have a very good quarterback. They do a really good job of running and throwing the football. A lot of times people look at them and think they throw the ball a lot, but the reason why they had to throw the ball is because they were coming from behind. But, they want to establish the run and that is to the philosophy of their head coach because he is an offensive line coach.”
Teddy Bridgewater threw for five touchdowns against Temple, moving him into a tie with Browning Nagle for ninth in the career charts with 32 passing scores.
Stopping the run has been a big problem for the Cardinals since BIG EAST play started in October. Louisville gave up a season-high 255 yards on the ground to Temple last Saturday, which is very discouraging to the defensive staff.
“With the way the game started on Saturday, there were a lot of guys that were overrunning the ball, running out of their gaps, and they were trying to make a play,” said Strong. “I tell them all the time, listen, just take care of your responsibility, do your job. If someone is in the A-gap, the nose guard is supposed to be in the A-gap, that is his gap. He just makes sure that the ball does not run into B-gap, which you are responsible for.”
One area that hasn’t been a concern lately has been the offense and the play of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Miami, Fla., native tossed a career-high five touchdown passes and 324 yards in the win and continues to get better each game. The offense continues to also get better each week in wins over Cincinnati and Temple. Louisville averaged 516 yards per game over that span and the offense hopes to continue hitting on all cylinders in the final three regular-season games
“I really like the way that these kids have done a nice job gravitating everything we’ve asked them to do,” said offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. “We’ve asked them to, number one, learn our system and know it to detail. We want our pass concepts and run blocking patterns to look like the drawings in the book. That is what we refer to as clean football. We played really well this past weekend. We have a lot of clean football. I just like the way they have grown. Everything we have asked them to do, they have responded to. So, they’ve been a remarkable group that way. I’m talking about every one of them.”
The Cardinals haven’t played clean football all year long, and facing a team that ranks in the top 10 in tackles for loss and top 20 in passing offense certainly will provide a challenge. The Cardinals have found ways to win and, if they can play a blemish-free game on both sides of the ball, hope to translate Saturday’s game into another victory.