SU gears up for Louisville in football opener

SU-Louisville set for football opener

Looking to improve from a 5-7 record last season, Syracuse will open against an ACC opponent Saturday in JMA Wireless Dome.
Published: August 31, 2022
Syracuse’s Garrett Schrader (16) takes a snap under center during an NCAA football game against Rutgers, Saturday, at the Carrier Dome.
Garrett Schrader (16), shown taking a snap against Rutgers last year, will return to start for the Orange at QB.

College football will return to Syracuse with a primetime ACC matchup. On Saturday night, fans will return to the JMA Wireless Dome to watch the Orange take on the Louisville Cardinals. Starting with an ACC opponent right away will be a tall task that could set the tone for the rest of the campaign.

“This will be the very first time that both teams have been playing each other as healthy as you can be,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. “We’re going to have injuries coming out of camp, and they’re going to have injuries coming out of camp, but the entire football team, this is the healthiest we’ve ever been.”

Offensive Challenges

Babers had high praise for Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham, calling him unique, and mentioned how the team doesn’t have anybody like him who can even emulate him in practice. 

“When he steps on the field, he’s traditionally the best football player on the field on both sides.” Babers said.” I would have the tendency to agree with that. He’s that explosive and he can change the game.”

Syracuse defensive tackle Caleb Okechukwu talked further about Cunningham’s development and how he plans to get to Cunningham early.

“When you look at him you think he’s a runner, but I think last year he was an accurate passer as well so now that gives you both points. You can’t just worry about just the run because he can hurt you with his arm, too,” Okechukwu said.

Syracuse cornerback Garrett Williams knows the challenge the defense faces against a talented dual threat in Cunningham. 

“You know he’s [Cunningham’s] going to have his good plays cause he’s one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks not just in the conference, but probably in the country,” Williams said.

Williams also discussed the best way to reduce the damage Cunningham can cause.

“Just limiting those big plays, just communicating in the secondary I feel like we can force him to take things like shorter route dink and dunk – make him work down the field instead of chunk plays we’ll be successful,” Williams said.

Defensive Challenges

Syracuse fullback Chris Elmore talked about the challenges the Cardinals defense presents and how they plan to be prepared for it. 

Elmore spoke about the need for the Orange to stick to the game planning and translate it to the field

“They’re going to try to disguise a couple things but once you trust your technique and trust your scheme and go with it. It all plays out good,” Elmore said. 

Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader echoed those sentiments. 

“They do a lot of movement, they confuse you, kind of similar to us. But they really stop the run, that’s what they want to do. Everything else we’re doing is built off of that.”

Thoughts From Coach

Babers had high praise for Elmore, calling him a multi-talented player who has not only a chance to help Syracuse this season, but also has a shot at the NFL.

“If you have a bunch of those guys, you’re going to end up going to bowl games,” Babers said.

Babers also showed confidence in quarterback Shrader, who will be starting for the second year.

“Garett is a pro,” Babers said. “Everything he does is quiet, confident, and professional. There’s no doubt he’s going to be in that league when he decides to go. The better he plays and the higher he has the opportunity to get picked is probably better for Syracuse.”

All of this will be tested on Saturday at 8 p.m. when the Syracuse faithful will get their first chance to see the Orange back in action.