Thursday, November 4, 2010

Syracuse's Road Warriors Return Home to Face Louisville


After winning two straight road games against West Virginia and Cincinnati the Syracuse Orangemen are coming home. This Saturday Syracuse will kickoff in the Carrier Dome against the Louisville Cardinals at noon on SNY. The Orangemen come back to the Dome sporting an impressive 6-2 record (3-1 in Big East play) and are just one win away from bowl eligibility. With a win on Saturday, Syracuse will ensure the program's first winning season since 2001 and their first bowl bid since the 2004 season.

Louisville comes to the Carrier Dome with an overall 4-4 record, 1-2 in the Big East and a laundry list of injuries. The Cardinals lost their last contest against Pittsburgh 20-3 and may be without their starting running back Bilal Powell, who suffered a knee injury in the game. Powell has 1,067 yard this season on 153 attempts and 9 rushing touchdowns along with 12 catches for 118 yards and 1 touchdown. Bilal Powell has the 5th most rushing yards in the nation and if he is unable to play Victor Anderson will get the majority of the carries. Anderson, who has 245 yards on 48 rushing attempts, missed the last three games for the Cardinals, including last weeks game against Pittsburgh, with a shoulder injury. However, he has been cleared to play against Syracuse on Saturday, although it is doubtful he will be 100% healthy.

Cardinals starting quarter back Adam Froman is another question mark going into the game on Saturday. Froman has yet to practice this week and has been seen on campus with crutches, however without any kind of cast or boot. Reports state that Froman has a thigh bruise, but no word yet on his status for Saturday. Froman has completed 132 of 218 passing attempts for 1,633 yards and 11 touchdowns with 4 interceptions. If he is unable to go Justin Burke will get the start. Burke is a senior who has only thrown 7 passes this season, completing 5 of them for 40 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. He transferred to Louisville via North Carolina State and started three games last season. In 2009 Burke completed 49 of 97 passing attempts for 654 yards and 3 touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Cards he also threw 5 interceptions.

When Adam Froman is healthy he likes to spread the ball around on offense. Doug Beaumont leads the receiving corp with 31 catches for 358 yards and 1 touchdown. Josh Bellamy leads the team in touchdown grabs with 4, and has 18 catches for 284 yards. Cameron Graham has 23 catches for 269 yards 3 touchdown grabs, and Josh Chichester has 13 catches for 215 yards and 2 scores. Lastly, Andrell Smith has 12 catches for 118 yards and 1 touchdown to round out the likely targets.

Louisville's defense enters the Carrier Dome allowing just 18.8 points per game which is 21st best in the nation. The Cardinals also allow 318.8 yards per game which is 25th best in the country. Due to the possibility of a depleted offense and with Syracuse's dynamic defense, it could be a long afternoon for the Cardinals defenders, which will certainly slow them down and make them vulnerable to big plays.

The Syracuse Orangemen are not without injuries. Starting offensive tackle Michael Hay has yet to practice this week and has been sporting a boot on his left foot on the sidelines. In his place has been Ian Allport, who is 6'4" 320 pounds, and Andrew Phillips who is 6'6" and 280 pounds. While Hay had an extremely bad start to the season, he has settled down the last two weeks and provided adequate blocking on the offensive line. Head coach Doug Marrone has not ruled Hay out for Saturday's game yet.

Additionally, Prince-Tyson Gulley has been ruled inactive for the second straight game as he is currently battling mono. With Gulley out Syracuse just has two eligible runners in their backfield, Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey. As long as the Orangemen don't suffer any more injuries they should be fine, however Adam Harris has also seen an increased work load due to the thin numbers in the backfield. Wide receiver Van Chew did not participate in practice on Tuesday, however he was back on the field Wednesday and head coach Doug Marrone said he was just giving Chew a day of rest.

Scott Shafer's defense has been the catalyst for Syracuse's success this season, and currently rank 13th in the country in average yards allowed per game with 298.5. Orangemen D is also 14th in the nation in points allowed, averaging just 17.5 per contest. After a brutal defensive showing in their last home game versus Pittsburgh, expect to see the defense get after it on Saturday. They have been playing too good to come home and pull another disappearing act.

On offense it has been business as usual for the Orangemen. They have been running down opponents throats and punishing defenders along the way. Ryan Nassib bounced back from a rough outing in Morgantown to complete 16 of 26 passing attempts for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns (1 interception) in the win against Cinci last week. He will need to continue to protect the football and not put it on the turf if Syracuse wants to continue the winning ways this Saturday.

Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey's dynamic duo has continued to perform as Carter showed no ill-effects from his hip injury in Morgantown. Carter ran for 109 yards on 19 carries last week. Antwon Bailey scored two touchdowns in Cincinnati last week, 1 rushing 1 receiving, and finished with 68 combined yards from scrimmage in the win. If the duo can stay healthy and continue to pick up positive yardage then this train can keep on rolling!

The Orangemen were also able to get big contributions out of their tight ends this past week. Nick Provo caught 4 passes for 40 yards to lead the team in receiving yardage and Jose Cruz made 3 catches for 20 yards. Provo caught a huge pass on 4th down and 3 for 19 yards to set up Syracuse's first touchdown.

Tune in Saturday at 12PM to catch the live action on SNY when Syracuse takes on Louisville in the Carrier Dome. With a win Syracuse will improve to 7-2 on the year, become bowl eligible for the first time since 2004, and ensure the first winning season for the football program since 2001. Tickets are still available and I highly encourage all Syracuse-Area fans to be in attendance.

photo courtesy of syracuse.com

[UPDATE: Louisville RB Bilal Powell and QB Adam Froman are both ruled OUT on Saturday, as is OL Michael Hay for Syracuse.]

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