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WTWF: Syracuse Orange

Syracuse's has the best running attack that Louisville has faced so far this year. Will the defense stand up in their first true test?

Andy Lyons


Sean Hickey is an outstanding left tackle, but the entire Cuse offensive line has done a great job of opening holes for the running game as well as keeping Terrel Hunt clean. Louisville likes to bring pressure off the edges while relying on Sheldon Rankins and B.J. Dubose to crash the pocket inside. However, Syracuse is a completely different offense than Louisville has seen this year. Terrel Hunt can run and he can run well. He keeps his eyes down the field but does a great job of taking off when he sees open space. If Rankins, Dubose, Kelsey, and company can't minimize the running lanes Hunt could have a big day. As well as their line has played one must question if they have played a defense nearly as talented as Louisville's.


Louisville hasn't seen a feature back in it's backfield since the days of Bilal Powell. Both Charlie Strong and Bobby Petrino like to have multiple backs split the load in some way. Brandon Radcliff had a breakout game last week when Dominique Brown couldn't hold onto the ball and Michael Dyer failed to break any big runs. The running game was coming off one of the worst performances in recent memory and really needed a spark. I can't help but think that the spark that Radcliff provided will make him the best bet to get the lion's share of carries. Radcliff does something that the other backs sometimes struggle with. He hits the hole quickly and with a burst. If you watch the offensive line on run plays they look to have trouble sustaining blocks. Sometimes they get a bad rap with this because the backs just don't get to the hole quick enough. On Radcliff's 29-yard touchdown run last week he ran right off of Jake Smith's rear end as he made his block and he was in open space. If he can keep making those types of runs, he could become that feature back that teams have to gameplan against.


Louisville has tried to utilize screen passes out wide some this season and they have had marginal success with them. Notre Dame absolutely killed Syracuse with them. They also used a good amount of underneath and interior screens. We all remember Corvin Lamb's touchdown from two years ago as one of the few highlights of the game. Louisville undoubtedly will try to run a hefty amount of screen plays and Syracuse will undoubtedly try to adjust after last week. What will be interesting is how well Petrino plays off of the screens. The defense will eventually have to cheat up if the screens have success and it will open fake screens as well as one-on-one matchups on the backside. Reggie Bonnafon will need simple passes to stunt the defensive pressure. I would put a decent amount of money on those passes being screen passes to James Quick and others.


The Cardinals packed their top ranked run defense on the trip to Syracuse but there's no telling if numbers might be lying a bit in this case. Louisville has faced some pretty lousy running teams including the worst one in Wake Forest. Syracuse is a top 25 team when it comes to running the ball and they have a quarterback that can take off in obvious passing situations. This will be the first game where the pin-your-ears-back-and-go style of defense that we have all grown to love from the Louisville defense could actually be exploited. Prince-Tyson Gulley is a quick back that can run through arm tackles and Adonis Ameer-Moore can wear a defense down over time. With a few passing threats out due to injury the Orange will likely rely on their run game even more than usual.