It could be argued that the SU Football team is in need of strong leaders this week more than they've been all season. It's perhaps one of the reasons why Head Coach Doug Marrone waited until there were three games left in the regular season to name his team captains. Linebacker Siriki Diabate, quarterback Ryan Nassib, offensive tackle Justin Pugh and safety Shamarko Thomas were officially named the 2012 captains as the team prepares for Louisville this week, knowing they have to win two of the next three games to become Bowl eligible.
"We didn't want to put that pressure on those players early on in the year where they can focus and concentrate as a team on being good leaders for each other and obviously on their play," says Marrone, "The four captains, Ryan Nassib, Justin Pugh, Shamarko Thomas and Siriki Diabate are kids that have really been great leaders throughout the entire season, throughout spring and preseason. They have obviously done a good job managing this team during a lot of frustration. It's a challenge now for those players to get us over the top as we go into these three games."
The Orange admit they entered this week angry and frustrated , but hope to end the week in celebration mode with a win over undefeated (11) Louisville this Saturday at the Carrier Dome.
"It's very difficult with frustration coming off of the Cincinnati game," says SU Head Coach Doug Marrone, "It's pretty much been that way from the games that we have lost this year. We made critical errors in different phases of the game that we have not been able to overcome. Early on in the week we have addressed that with our players and we are working on it and trying to get this thing where we don't commit those errors and we have the ability to play four quarters in all three phases. That's what we are 110% committed to."
The game will have special meaning for the team's 15 seniors, as this Saturday's game will be their final one played in the Carrier Dome. The senior class is one that experienced a thrilling 36-34 victory over Kansas State in the 2010 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, and hope a win this week will get them one step closer to getting a chance to end their college careers with one last Bowl opportunity.
"We have a very, very good football team coming in here," Marrone said. "They are a 9-0 team. A team that is undefeated. They are a team that is led by an outstanding quarterback. It's a great challenge for our program. We are excited to be in that position. Our players have shown a resiliency through these critical times which is tough to do. It's easy to get down. It's easy to feel sorry for yourself. At the same time, the mistakes that are being made are the mistakes that we can control."
The Cardinals are 9-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big East Conference.