FB Notebook : After exploited by run, SU prepares for balanced attack
Syracuse has trouble stopping the run, particularly big plays.
That’s been evident the past two weekends, when the Orange has allowed more than 600 yards rushing. West Virginia particularly exposed SU on the Mountaineers’ quarterback options Saturday, which resulted in 247 rushing yards for quarterback Pat White and 163 rushing yards for running back Steve Slaton.
Fortunately for SU, this weekend’s opponent, No. 6 Louisville, lost star running back Michael Bush in the season opener. The Cardinals have turned to a three-man platoon of sophomore George Stripling, senior Kolby Smith and freshman Anthony Allen to replace Bush, but it’s not the same as the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Bush.
Logic would suggest SU would have better odds against a team like Louisville, with whom the Orange seems to better match up. But Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson still thinks his defense can stop any team, regardless of style.
‘The fact of the matter is that our players would like to have another shot at West Virginia and tweak about four or five of the big plays and see what happens from there, when we kind of controlled them, when we kept things in control,’ Robinson said. ‘And that doesn’t mean you stop them. We seemed to be able to do things. Again, hindsight is always 20-20 and you can get things fixed.’
But fixing the problems the Mountaineers exposed won’t be as useful against the Cardinals’ balanced offense-especially now that Louisville returned star quarterback Brian Brohm, who was sidelined for two games with a hand injury. Brohm came back on Saturday against Cincinnati and threw for 354 yards and one touchdown.
While Hunter Cantwell filled the void for two games, Brohm is among the top quarterbacks in the nation.
‘I think that you get a quarterback with a lot of experience back in there and he looked very good,’ Robinson said. ‘In the Cincinnati game, they brought him along, but he played well, he performed very well.’
So while the Orange needs to fix the holes in the running game, it’s the pass defense that will have to be paramount if it hopes to pull off an upset in the Carrier Dome.
‘I think the main thing they have is balance,’ Robinson said. ‘Everybody thinks that with (head coach) Bob Petrino that it’s all about passing. Bob is really about a balanced offense. I think he does a good job of it. They run the ball effectively and throw it very effectively. When you have that kind of balance, it’s hard to defend.’
This and that
Robinson refused to comment on any personnel changes, including the status of Jerry Mackey at outside linebacker and whether guard/tackle Carroll Madison will remain on right tackle, where he played on Saturday. … Safety Joe Fields and running back Curtis Brinkley are both day-to-day with minor injuries.
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