Dino Babers and his high tempo spread passing attack are coming to Lousiville with the intention to run the ball as much as possible. It’s weird. Syracuse has been a pass-heavy offense for years now but Babers has one of the best rushing attacks in the country and he went all-in on it early this season. His offense has seen great results and the Orange are riding a two-game winning streak into this weekend.
Tommy Devito was viewed as the future of the program when he signed with Cuse a few years back but injuries hindered his career. Though he was healthy this year, Babers made the call to move on to Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader, a much better runner, even though he hasn’t shown the ability to be a consistent passer. Shrader can really kill you with his legs, though. He is averaging 5.58 yards per carry and he has three 100-yard rushing games on the season.
The key to the Orange offense is Sean Tucker. The second-leading rusher in the country is one of the most consistent players in the country and he is unbelievably productive. Tucker is the national leader in yards from scrimmage and no one is particularly close to him. Cuse has not only utilized him as a runner but he can catch the ball and make a play in space as well. Tucker is the most valuable offensive player that Louisville has faced this year and they have to find a way to slow him down.
The Orange passing attack lost some firepower when Taj Harris entered the transfer portal earlier this season. They don’t have a receiver on the roster right now that has shown the ability to threaten a defense consistently. However, Cuse does have some guys with experience and ability. Anthony Qeeley finished last season with 37 catches and he is the second leading wide receiver this season. Courtney Jackson has a lot of potential but probably needs another year before he can become the go-to receiver for the offense. But these guys can run and get open and we’ve seen UofL struggle to slow down some bad passing offenses this season.
The Orange offensive line has been fairly putrid over the last few years but the shift to the rushing attack has really allowed them to show what they can do. The group gets a boost with Chris Elmore essentially being an extra lineman at his tight end position. This allows them to just move opposing defenses out off the line and clear running lanes for Tucker and Shrader. Louisville has to force long third downs to make this line prove that they can protect Shrader in the pocket.