ROCCO GASPARRO LOUISVILLE FOOTBALL S.I.D.
Inside the University of Louisville’s football practice on Monday, it was obvious the start of Atlantic Coast Conference play was on the horizon in just the second week of the season.
Coming off a 70-14 win over Charlotte last Thursday, the Cardinals open league action on Friday, with a visit to the Carrier Dome to face Syracuse in a nationally televised contest. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. with Adam Amin, Mack Brown and Molly McGrath calling the action on ESPN2.
With both teams coming off big non-league wins, the stakes are high as both teams look to get a leg up on the conference race with a key Atlantic Division game.
The Cards and Orange will meet for the third time as members of the ACC – with the Cardinals taking home both contests, including a 28-6 win in the Carrier Dome in 2014.
Last season, the Cardinals broke open a close game with 34 unanswered points to blast the Orange 41-17 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
However, 2016 is a new season, and the Orange are a different team under first-year head coach Dino Babers, who guided Syracuse to a 33-7 win over Colgate on Friday night.
“I thought they (Syracuse) played well,” head coach Bobby Petrino said. “They have a very fast offense, a fast tempo. I have a lot of respect for their quarterback and his ability to throw the ball, and they have a really good group of receivers.”
“On offense, we are going to have block line movement,” Petrino said. They really like to move their front; they angle and they run a lot of line games. They play fast at linebacker,” Petrino added. “They aren’t really big, but they play really fast and physical. I’m really looking forward to the game.”
As former members of the BIG EAST Conference with Syracuse, the Cards are no strangers to the Carrier Dome having made seven previous trips, and Petrino knows it’s one of the most difficult places in the country to play.
“It’s a loud place,” Petrino said. “They will have a big crowd. It’s loud no matter how many people they have in there. Playing inside it’s always loud, and we will have to be able to communicate It’s a good challenge for us— it’s something that we really need.”
The Cardinals had no trouble communicating in their season opener after scoring 70 points for only the second time in Petrino’s tenure. Opening the scoring with eight touchdowns in their first 10 drives, the Cardinals cruised to a 56-0 halftime lead to pick up their first win of the year.
Sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, set school records and tied an ACC marks by accounting for eight touchdowns and throwing for six touchdowns.
“I thought Lamar really did a good job in the second quarter seeing things and going through his progressions,” Petrino said. “It was nice to get everybody involved. He read the coverage and delivered the ball, and let the players make the plays for you. That’s why we had so many different guys make plays. And it was great to get everybody involved you know in the second half.”
The Cardinals will hit the road for the first time this week and are playing a team with a lot of momentum after picking up a home win to open the season. The Orange racked up over 500 yards of total offense, including 355 yards passing from Eric Dungey.
“I think they look good,” Petrino said. “They’re very well coached. You know, even when we go back and watch the Bowling Green film, they do a really good job of coaching what their schemes are, and their players play hard. So I’ve got a lot of respect for their coaching staff.”