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What To Watch For: Syracuse

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The #W2W4 is still a little unsure about this Louisville football team.

NCAA Football: Virginia at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports


Two weeks ago we all watched as Wake Forest had an offensive explosion against an overwhelmed UofL defense. Wake was one of the slower teams in the country but decided to turn up the speed to change things up. It worked very well as Louisville found themselves struggling to get lined up correctly a handful of times. They also couldn’t substitute like they wanted to and guys got winded quickly.

Those things can’t happen against Syracuse. They average more plays than any team in the country and the whole point of they’re system is to catch you off guard. They scored touchdowns on blown coverages multiple times against Clemson and they started their comeback against FSU with a big fourth down touchdown pass on a blown coverage.

Louisville should take advantage of the fact that Syracuse doesn’t call they’re plays based on the defense after a positive play. What I mean by that is that after they complete a pass, they typically call the play as the players are running up to the line for the next play and they run that play. Typically you see teams line up and everyone looks over to the sideline. Cuse doesn’t do that most of the time. Everyone is looking over to the sideline as they run to their next spot. This really stood out in the Miami game when they ended up running quick screens outside even though Miami was in bump and run coverage. The play blew up and Dungey was forced to throw the ball away. Sirmon should keep things simple and have a base call for when this happens. That way they’re lined up and ready to go at the snap.


We’re ten games into the season and Louisville still hasn’t put two strong performances together in back to back weeks. The two cupcake games on the schedule could even be argued. Louisville played well in all three phases against Virginia. They ran the ball well and hit big passing plays down the field. They got after the quarterback and forced turnovers. Reggie Bonnafon also had a very good game returning punts.

I completely oversold Virginia in hindsight. I thought that their offense was better than the numbers showed because they looked like it when I watched their games. I feel the exact opposite way about Syracuse. They look terrible on offense even though the numbers are solid. They’re defense looks slow and unathletic. So I don’t see why Louisville can’t come out and put together a performance like they did in last year’s game.


Louisville fans have had the pleasure of watching one of the best college football players to eve step onto the field for the last three years. Lamar Jackson hasn’t announced his intentions as it pertains to the draft but one I’d imagine that he will decide to pass on his final year and enter the draft. I think he’ll go pro because I think he will put up a record setting day this weekend and put some questions in the minds of Heisman voters.

The Syracuse game last season was when Lamar really put his name at the top of the list and he held onto the lead for the entire season. It would only be fitting that a crazy performance would get him back into the top of the conversation this season. More than that, however, is the fact that Syracuse is coming off of an absolutely awful defensive performance while Louisville is looking to finish their season on a positive note. Syracuse doesn’t have dynamic defenders like some of the other teams have had to slow Lamar down. He will take full advantage of that and leave Louisville fans with a story to tell for years to come.


Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips account for almost all of the receiver production for Syracuse. Both have been targeted over 100 times and no one else on the team has even reached 50. Louisville has been victimized by a lot of different guys this year but one thing that stood out to me earlier in the season was that it was mostly obscure players that were doing the most damage. Coaches that were willing to use their entire playbook found a lot of success.

Syracuse doesn’t seem to call plays specifically for Ishmael but they do dial up things for Philips. I do think that Dungey always looks to those two first, though. Ravian Pierce is a very good tight end and he’s catching 80% of the passes that are thrown his way. Babers needs to dial up some plays that will force Dungey to spread it around. That’s how Louisville has been beaten this year.