CFB Preview: No. 13 Louisville-Syracuse
You'll have to excuse Louisville coach Bobby Petrino if he is not really sure what day it is.
Though Saturday is college football's traditional game day, Petrino's 13th-ranked Cardinals are getting ready for an 8 p.m. Friday contest against Syracuse at the Orange's Carrier Dome home. The Cardinals are coming off a 70-14 rout of Charlotte in their opener, which was played on a Thursday night.
"We're kind of off schedule," he said.
When the game is played isn't among Petrino's primary concerns, however. Whatever the schedule calls for that's what he will go with.
--First is contending with playing the game indoors and coping with the noise factor.
"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."
Of course, noise is more of a factor when the Dome is filled or at least near capacity. The crowd for the opener - a 33-7 victory over Colgate -- was tagged at a disappointing 31,336, well below the capacity of 49,250.
The Orange are hoping for more fans in the seats this week.
"There is tons of room for improvement," Orange quarterback Eric Dungey said. "I'm happy we're back in the Dome. It was awesome playing in front of these fans. We had a lot of Orange out there so that was great to see. I'm looking forward to getting back here."
--Petrino's second concern is contending with first-year Syracuse coach Dino Babers' up-tempo approach on offense. It's a system that helped Baber beat Northern Illinois for the MAC championship last year at Bowling Green and got him Ohio Valley Conference titles and appearances in the FCS playoffs in both of his years at Eastern Illinois.
The Orange ran off 81 plays for 554 yards in total offense in beating Colgate last week. Babers said afterward it was the slowest pace he hopes the Orange plays at this year.
"I think what you saw tonight was both sides, a little bit of the good and a little bit of the bad," Babers said. "Hopefully, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, what this could become once you work all of the kinks out and you have the right type of individuals giving you the right efforts in the right places."
Dungey agrees the pace needs to be picked up.
"I don't think it was fast enough," the quarterback said. "I'm pretty sure coach was already saying we're not fast enough. There's tons of room for improvement."
Petrino is expecting the quicker pace, but isn't so sure that sometimes the pace is a bit too fast.
"That's one of the things they brag about is how fast they go," Petrino said. "We've got to see if all that is legal because there's a few times they're snapping the ball and the down markers haven't even been moved yet.
"So we do need to check into that and see how that works. But I think they look good."
So did the Cardinals last week.
The Cardinals racked up 663 yards in total offense against Charlotte with quarterback Lamar Jackson accounting for 405 yards -- in the first half! He accounted for eight touchdowns to set a school record in the category, and his six touchdown passes tied another. He didn't take a snap in the second half.
In all, 16 different players recorded at least one catch for the Cardinals. Eight different players registered rushes.
"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."
After the trip to Syracuse, the Cardinals will finally get to play a Saturday game when the host Florida State on Sept. 13.