The Morning After: Louisville upends Syracuse 41-3

The Morning After: Takeaways from SU's loss to Louisville

Our key takeaways from Syracuse's disastrous loss to the Cardinals.
Published: November 14, 2021
Football Game Syracuse University vs Wake Forest, October 9, 2021. Cody Roscoe walking from the field at halftime.
Cody Roscoe, pictured here against Wake Forest on Oct. 9, registered three solo tackles in Syracuse's loss at Louisville.

Syracuse football played its worst game of the season at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday. Garrett Shrader only completed 10 passes for 46 yards and Sean Tucker was limited to under 100 yards rushing for just the second time this fall.

Maybe the worst part? Lamar Jackson, who famously hurdled an Orange defender at the Dome during his 2016 Heisman season, saw the whole thing. The Cardinals retired Jackson’s No. 8 before the game.

The Orange failed to reach the endzone for the first time this season and allowed 40 or more points in regulation for the first time as well. Still one win away from bowl eligibility, if Syracuse plays anything as it did on Saturday, they will not make the postseason.

“I think Louisville played a fantastic game and I thought they had a good game plan,” head coach Dino Babers said. “They were motivated, they were stimulated and they came out and played well.”

The bye week hurt the team:

The team was confident about coming off a week of needed rest and Louisville’s last game being a tough loss against Clemson. Syracuse lost to the Tigers, too, and played them closer than they played the Cardinals on Saturday.

Babers said after the 41-3 loss that Louisville ran the scoreboard and put the game out of reach early, which was “extremely disappointing.” The Cardinals outscored Syracuse 35-3 in the first half. Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham scored all five of his touchdowns in the first two quarters.

The offense needs to be competitive:

Saturday was the first game in 2021 where Syracuse’s offense could not keep up with its competition: a list that includes offenses quarterbacked by Malik Willis, Sam Hartman and DJ Uiagalelei. They couldn’t keep up with Cunningham and U of L running back Jalen Mitchell, who rushed for 103 yards.

The Orange offense mustered just 184 yards of offense. Tucker was held to 95 yards and Shrader had the lowest output of his career as a starter with SU. Only five players moved the ball for positive yardage compared to Louisville’s 10.

Syracuse must score points against NC State and Pittsburgh over the next two weeks. Both teams’ offenses average 32 and 44 points respectively, well over Syracuse’s average of 27 points per contest.

No more mistakes, at all, from here on out:

Syracuse’s season has been defined by losing games they could’ve won, but they made mistakes that put them out of contention early against Louisville.

Mikel Jones, SU’s defensive captain as voted by the players, committed a targeting penalty and was ejected in the second quarter. Jones bagged two tackles and a sack on Cunningham before being disqualified from the game.

“Mikel Jones is the quarterback of our defense,” Babers said. “Losing Mikel Jones in a football game is like us losing Garrett Shrader. Regardless of that, you train people to be backups and you find a way to not only improvise but find a way to give guys a chance when you lose a captain. We need to do a better job of that.”

If Syracuse’s goal is to make the postseason, they need to find ways to expose the Wolfpack and the Panthers. Every winning scenario involves Jones and SU’s other key players on the field, contributing to those potential wins.