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What To Watch For: Syracuse Orange

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 26 Virginia at Louisville Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


For the last few years I’ve pretty much begged Dino Babers to run the ball more during these posts before the game. He doesn’t listen to me for some reason but maybe that will change. Syracuse ran the ball 42 times last week which is really out of character as they only ran 59 plays. It’s not why they won the game so easily but it’s an example of what they can do when they’re not so reliant on the passing game.

Syracuse also needs to find a way to combat Louisville's big play offense and keeping the ball away from them helps that. UofL also hasn’t been all that great at stopping the run this year and their propensity to allow large holes to run through could lead to some big issues with a speedy back like Moe Neal running the ball. He’s a guy that can get into the open field and run away from everyone.


NC State showed everyone how it’s done last weekend when they blitzed the hell out of Micale Cunningham and prayed they could get home. It worked in the first half before UofL shored things up with their protections and Cunningham took the top off of the defense. But it worked for a half and that’s better than anyone not named Clemson has done this year so I think Syracuse will try the same thing.

Here’s another factor. Syracuse fired their defensive coordinator a few weeks ago. After a bye week, their interim DC had his unit put together their best performance in five years. He’s coaching for the full job and playing it safe won’t get him that job. Duke’s offense is terrible and they were short a few guys but UofL has the most explosive offense in the ACC and stopping that offense is a nice addition to the resume. I don’t think there’s a chance that he plays it safe.


Against NC State, UofL’s running game had a tough time getting anything going. Scott Satterfield has said multiple times this year that they should have thrown the ball more when teams have slowed down the running game. He should actually do that this weekend if Syracuse plays as aggressively as I expect them to. Just running into a wall doesn’t really help and I worry that a team with a competent offense will be able to get out ahead and put his offense in a bad spot.

Satterfield also has a bunch of receivers that are better than nearly all of the defensive backs in this conference. We saw that last week later in the game when they hit those receivers open down the field or they were able to draw pass interference calls after running past the defense. This all seems so obvious but it’s really hard for any play caller to go against their own tendencies. Satterfield likes to run the football and it’s been a handful of years since he’s had multiple games where he’s had to adjust on the fly. But he did it last week and I think we’ll see them take more shots in the first half if the offense is struggling.


Syracuse has a historically bad offensive line. It’s bad enough that when I looked up the amount of carries they had last week I had to take into account that the numbers for the rest of the season would be skewed because of all of the sacks they’ve given up. They made a change last week and flipped their left tackle and center. Duke was only able to get one sack on the day with that switch. But Syracuse only dropped back 17 times and Duke was able to get a few quarterback hurries on the day. So that game is a little misleading.

Louisville has 14 or so contributors that will be playing their last game a home this weekend. Three of them play defensive line. G.G. Robinson and Amonte Caban have played extremely hard for this defense for a a good while now and I think they’ll be pushing hard to be able to get a sack in their last home game. Ty Tyler has had a season that I would assume is a big letdown for him. Tyler was one of the most productive linemen in the conference when he was at Marshall. Though he doesn’t have the years of time here he surely wants to take advantage of the opportunity against a bad offensive line. The motivation for these guys will lead to the production.