Steve Infanti's Keys to Victory: SU vs. Louisville

WSYR-TV - The status of SU's starting quarterback is once again in doubt leading up to Saturday's game at Louisville

It has become the most important game of the season for the Orange and and there's a chance that the team's most important player may once again be missing. 

Syracuse released its weekly injury report Thursday night, per ACC rules, with Eric Dungey listed as "questionable."  That's the same designation the school assigned to him last week as well.  

Dungey arrived at the Carrier Dome in a walking boot on Saturday for the Wake Forest game, warmed up with his right foot heavily taped, but did not play. 

Instead, Zack Mahoney made his eighth career start.

See NewsChannel 9's Sports Director Steve Infanti's Keys to the Game. 

QB Concern

It goes without saying that the play of the quarterback position will go a long way toward determining the outcome of this weekend's game at Louisville. 

Dungey has been a difference maker all season for SU.  If he can't go, Mahoney will likely start in his place again.  The senior quarterback racked up 384 passing yards and three touchdowns against Wake Forest but also threw a pair of interceptions in the second half. 

He was relieved by Rex Culpepper late in the fourth quarter with the outcome of the game no longer in doubt.

While Mahoney's first half production should've been enough to win the game (remember: SU led 38-21 late in the second quarter), there's no question his turnovers in the second half were costly.  Whoever is behind center on Saturday has to limit mistakes. 

Syracuse cannot afford to lose the turnover battle in what has become a "do or die" game as it pertains to bowl eligibility.

"Moe" Touches

Eric Dungey isn't the only SU player listed as "questionable" this week.  The status of junior running back Dontae Strickland is up in the air too. 

Strickland got off to a good start against the Demon Deacons rushing for 59 yards and a touchdown before suffering a leg injury. 

Moe Neal came on in relief and went for 86 yards on 12 carries -- that's a very impressive average of 7.2 yards per carry. 

As a team, the Orange rushed for 178 yards.  To have a chance to beat Louisville, Syracuse will have to find a way to run the ball, especially if Dungey isn't playing.  A balanced attack will take some of the pressure off of Mahoney and company.

Action Jackson

As I said, it goes without saying that the play of the quarterback position will go a long way toward determining the outcome of this game at Louisville. 

That goes for the opponent as well.  Who can forget what Lamar Jackson did the Orange defense last year inside the Carrier Dome.

Jackson set a new ACC record with 610 total yards of offense (411 passing and 199 rushing) en route to winning the Heisman Trophy.  It may be the single most impressive performance by a football player in Carrier Dome history. 

Now, granted, that was SU's first game in the Dino Babers era against an FBS opponent.  So the Tampa-2 was still a brand new scheme for the 'Cuse defense.  However, Jackson is special.  Not to mention the fact that Syracuse traditionally struggles with dual-threat quarterbacks. 

We saw that trend continue last Saturday  when Wake's John Wolford had a career game accounting for 499 yards of offense.

Jackson is too good to be stopped by the SU defense, but that unit will have to do a much better job containing him than it did last season.  Expect a high-scoring game in which a stop or two late could decide the outcome.


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