SYRACUSE — The first game of his tenure at Syracuse is in the books, and Dino Babers has the Orange on the right track. Not getting derailed in Week 2 is another matter.
Syracuse (1-0) hosts No. 13 Louisville (1-0) on Friday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams, and the Cardinals, with versatile quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the way, are certainly a big step up from FCS Colgate.
Jackson is coming off a record-setting performance in the season opener against Charlotte, a 70-14 blitz in which he only played the first half and still accounted for a stunning 405 yards and eight touchdowns.
"He reminds me of all the good ones," Babers said. "He's just a fabulous player. And he gets to touch the ball every single snap that they're on offense."
Syracuse opened the season at home with a 33-7 victory over FCS foe Colgate, a veteran team ranked in the preseason. Eric Dungey was 34-for-40 for 355 yards (all career highs) and two TD passes as the Orange completed a school-record 87 percent of its passes and accumulated 554 yards.
The home team is hopeful its 12th man will show up for this one. Only 31,336 came to the opener, about 18,000 below capacity.
"It's a huge challenge," Dungey said. "Hopefully, we can get a lot of fans out there. The Dome when it gets loud, it's a tough place to play in."
Petrino has been making his practices noisy to prepare for a heightened decibel level. The Carrier Dome is usually deafening in tight games, even when it isn't filled.
"It's a loud place. It's loud no matter how many people they have in there," Petrino said. "It's a good challenge for us — it's something that we really need."
Other things of note when Louisville visits Syracuse on Friday night:
JACKSON'S FOLLOW-UP: Jackson set a school record for touchdowns accounted for, including six passing to tie another mark, as Louisville amassed 663 yards in the rout of Charlotte. Jackson wasn't perfect in missing some downfield throws early, but he read blitzes well enough to hit running backs who converted those catches into TDs. Petrino said the mobile sophomore left room for improvement but was pleased with his poise in the pocket. "I did think that he really delivered the ball well," the coach said. "And it was good to see him keep his focus down field and deliver the ball as he's getting hit standing in there."
MOVE THE CHAINS, PLEASE: Syracuse's uptempo game puts extra pressure on opposing defenses, and on the game officials to move the chains quickly to get set for the next play. The Orange ran 81 plays in its win over Colgate, and Babers expects the pace to pick up as the season progresses. "They're playing fast," Petrino said. "That's one of the things they brag about, is how fast they go. We've got to see if all of that's legal because there's a few times they're snapping the ball and the down markers haven't even been moved yet."
Syracuse's record for plays in a regulation game is 98, set in a 35-21 over Kansas in 1959, when the Orange went unbeaten and won its lone national championship.
RUN SOMEWHERE, ANYWHERE: Syracuse has a solid stable of tailbacks, led by Jordan Fredericks, Dontae Strickland, and freshman Moe Neal, who scored on a 49-yard run last week on his first college carry. Subtract that long run, and the team gained another 49 yards on 27 carries, an average of 1.8 yards per carry.
MONEY-DOWN MASTERS: Playing second-year FBS member Charlotte didn't matter to Louisville's defense, which held the 49ers to 208 yards with the first-teamers allowing just 92 in the first half. Most notable was the Cardinals' success in denying Charlotte any conversions on their 13 third-down chances, their best effort since holding Boston College to 1 of 14 last season.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: In its season-opening win, Syracuse had two receivers with double-digit receptions, a school first. Ervin Philips matched Art Monk's school record with 14 catches, and graduate transfer Amba Etta-Tawo had an even dozen receptions for 210 yards and a score.