Nov. 6, 2012
INTERVIEWS: Kenny ~nbsp>Carter | Senorise ~nbsp>Perry
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The University of Louisville is preparing for another big road game when the Cardinals travel to face a tough Syracuse team on Saturday in the Carrier Dome. The noon game will be televised to a national audience on ABC.
The Cardinals are 3-0 on the road this season, but haven't put a complete game together away from home all season. Louisville has had to battle back in all three road games, which isn't something they want to do this weekend against a very good Syracuse team. Louisville trailed FIU in the first half and Southern Mississippi for most of the game until scoring with a little over five minutes remaining. Pittsburgh led the Cardinals 21-17 at the half until a 21-point third quarter blew the game wide open.
The Orange have a very explosive offense and an attacking defense led by one of the top players in the league in safety Sharmarko Thomas, who is has 39 tackles and one interception.
"Syracuse plays the run very aggressively," said junior Senorise Perry. "They have a great player in their safety. He usually takes us to the ball. All the blitzes will be there so we just have to read it out and attack their defensive line with the run and a lot of play action."
The Orange are in the top 50 nationally in total defense, yielding 369.4 total yards, and are ninth in the country in tackles for loss. They will be quite a challenge for the Cardinals, who are averaging 31.3 points per game on the road.
"Syracuse is a very good football team," said running backs coach Kenny Carter. "Their record doesn't indicate how good of a football team they are. They are going to play hard. The game is sold-out. They are going to have everyone there. We know they are going to give us their best, but we don't on the opponent. We focus on us and what we can do to make things happen."
What the Cardinals are making happen on offense this year, is the big play. Louisville already has 43 plays of 20 or more yards this season led by sophomore wide receiver DeVante Parker, who averaged over 35 yards a catch on his 11 career touchdown receptions.
Sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been on fire over the last four games and has really hurt teams with shots down the field.
"We believe in pushing the ball down the field and taking deep shots," said offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. "We've got a quarterback that can do that and understands that part of the game. Then, we have receivers that have that skill set and understand the spacing aspects. They know how we're trying to target ourselves and where they are supposed to landmark. It's because of that efficiency really at receiver."
Watson knows he has a great young quarterback, but what has pleased him the most, is Bridgewater's ability to study the game and put the work in to make him a great player.
"I think the number one thing you have to do as a quarterback is you have to be willing to work off the field and outside the classroom in a season," said Watson. "The offseason is the most important part of your life as a quarterback. I know that as a quarterback coach. I've known that. I think that's critical. Teddy has embraced that. He's bought that idea because, really in the long of the short, he wants to be a great player. He's going to will himself into that. I think he is right now. The really cool thing about Teddy is his humility. You wouldn't know that. He just keeps working. He knows that he's got a lot to improve on."
It's hard to believe Bridgewater has things he needs to improve upon based on him being ranked fifth nationally in passing efficiency, and the video game numbers he has put up in recent weeks.
The Cardinals won their last appearance in the Carrier Dome in 2010, but this time both teams have a lot on the line, especially the Cardinals, who are trying to remain one of the nation's undefeated teams. The Cardinals must be focused and ready to play, because the Orange will certainly like to keep their bowl hopes alive and would like nothing more than to spoil Louisville's dream of another BIG EAST title.