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matthew ziegler | staff photographer The Syracuse defense ranks 13th in total defense, but it will be tested Saturday against Louisville. The Cardinals rush for nearly 200 yards per game, No. 23 in the nation.

Against Cardinals, ever-improving SU defense will face new challenge


oug Hogue doesn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the numbers. Not at this point, just 10 weeks into the

season. To Hogue, the fact that Syracuse enters the weekend as 13th-ranked defense in the country is a trivial piece of information. It doesn’t at all speak to where the Orange hopes to be at season’s end. And focusing on it doesn’t do anything but bring complacency. And that’s not something the Orange can have with the nation’s No. 5 rusher coming to town on Saturday in Bilal Powell. “Personally, I never really pay attention to those things,” Hogue, a senior linebacker, said of the defensive ranking. “We just have to keep it up and keep building. I feel as though we have yet to play our best defense. We’re going to have to keep improving.” Hogue’s mentality isn’t just his own, either. It’s one that is shared by his teammates, all the way up to SU head coach, Doug Marrone. Together, the Orange defense collectively understands that each week is a new obstacle to overcome. A new team looking to exploit what has steadily

andrew l. john

goin’ hog wild become the rock upon which SU’s season relies. And as the Orange prepares to take the field against a much improved Louisville offense Saturday in the Carrier Dome, that mindset won’t change. Facing an offense that features one of the premier running threats in the country in Powell, the Orange can’t get caught up in what it accomplished last week or the week before. For them it’s another new challenge. It’s another opportunity to continue improving. Gone is the “swag” and brash trashtalking mentality we saw from the defense in the first few weeks. Now it’s all business. Because it didn’t really matter that the Orange defense had shut down Akron and South Florida on the road earlier this

season. Directly following each of those two games, that feeling of complacency set in, leading to embarrassing performances against Washington and Pittsburgh, SU’s only two losses of the season. Now three weeks removed from that loss to Pitt, the same mentality that accompanied the Orange on the road in impressive wins against West Virginia and Cincinnati must remain Saturday against Louisville. Though Powell — who leads the Big East in rushing — is questionable for the game with a swollen right knee, the Cardinals have enough offensive weapons to exploit the Orange if SU takes the game lightly. Perhaps that’s why Hogue and his teammates are staying grounded. Despite what was accomplished last week or the week before, the approach remains the same: Don’t look back, just ahead. Focus on the task at hand. “It’s all about us maturing each week,” SU strong safety Shamarko Thomas said. “The Pitt game just made us a tougher defense. It brought us together and taught us that we need to communicate better and see john page 8

November 5, 2010  

November 5, 2010

November 5, 2010  

November 5, 2010