As we countdown to kickoff in August, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each week over the summer. SU will continue its 2018 ACC schedule when it plays Louisville on Nov. 9.
NEW DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: When Todd Grantham left the defensive coordinator post last year to take the same position at Florida, Peter Sirmon took over and the Cardinals struggled, giving up 40 or more points in losses to Wake Forest, Boston College and Clemson. Sirmon read the writing on the wall and left for California, and Petrino tapped former Notre Dame DC Brian VanGorder. He was hardly a popular choice, having been fired four games into his tenure with the Irish, and has held positions at Georgia and Oklahoma State since then. The job will not be easy, with the Cardinals likely not fielding a senior starter on defense. Sophomore Dorian Etheridge is the only player returning that started all 13 games last year, though he led Louisville with 83 tackles, including three for a loss.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: For the first time in four years, a new quarterback will be lining up under center for the Cardinals. All Lamar Jackson did in three years on campus was throw for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns, and rush for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns on the ground, while winning the 2016 Heisman Trophy. He was selected with the 32nd overall pick of the 2018 draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Jawon Pass is the heir to the throne, though he is a decidedly different quarterback than Jackson, preferring to throw than use his feet. Pass played mop up duty last season, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes when he played, including completing 14 of 19 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown against Murray State. “He’s a natural leader,” head coach Bobby Petrino said. “I do know every player on our team respects him and is looking forward to playing with him.”
PREDICTION: Louisville will play three of four games on the road, starting on Oct. 13 at Boston College, at Clemson on Nov. 3 before a short turnaround Friday night matchup at Syracuse on the 9th. The Cardinals will also open the season on neutral ground (Orlando) against Alabama. That’s a tough schedule for a team that finished a disappointing third in the Atlantic Division in 2017. That schedule lends itself to a trap game in Central New York. SYRACUSE 35, LOUISVILLE 27.