The Louisville defense has dominated Syracuse for the last two seasons. The Cards have held the Orange to a total of 321 total yards in the two games and Syracuse has only been able to average 3.14 yards per play. Dino Babers has struggled to field a consistently potent offense but his hires this offseason could change that. Syracuse brought in Robert Anae and Jason Beck from Virginia after they helped to field one of the best offenses in the country.
Last year, one of the most inconsistent aspects of the Cuse offense was their quarterback play. Garrett Schrader took over as the starter early in the season and he helped Cuse stay competitive in some big games with his legs. However, his play fell off over the last quarter of the season and his ability to run the ball wasn’t much of a factor. Shrader has some significant room to improve as a passer; if he hasn’t done so, it will be hard for the offense to reach its potential.
The Orange added some depth at the quarterback spot through the transfer portal as well as high school recruiting. Justin Lamson picked the Orange over Louisville last year and he was expected to push for the starting job as a redshirt freshman. Unfortunately, Lamson went down with an injury this spring and won’t likely play anytime soon. Carlos Del Rio-Wilson is a transfer from Florida who will likely be the backup this season. The former four-star recruit hasn’t played in a game yet.
The star of the show on the Cuse offense is Sean Tucker. Get used to hearing his name because we’ll hear it all week long and then during the broadcast. Tucker is one of the best running backs in the country and he can take over a game with his ability to break long runs. Tucker mixes a great blend of speed and power as he is very hard to bring down in the open field. He is built like a tank but he just runs away from people once he sees daylight.
Tucker entered last year’s game on a seven-game streak of rushing for at least 100 yards but the Cards defense was able to contain him for the most part. He finished the game with 95 yards and no touchdowns while UofL completely shut down the passing game. I would be surprised if UofL can contain tucker again this year but the improvements on the defense should help them repeat their success.
While Syracuse has talent returning and coaches who should improve the offense, they’ll have to do so with a group of receivers that leaves a lot to be desired. Taj Harris hit the transfer portal and the Orange don’t really have anyone to replace their top threat in the passing game. Courtney Jackson and Damien Alford return as the top pass catchers with experience. Cuse also likely has high hopes for former FSU receiver, D’Marcus Adams. Adams brings the type of speed that this offense needs with such a strong rushing attack. If he can provide some big play ability, he could cause some problems.
Two years ago, Syracuse had one of the worst offensive lines that I had ever seen. Tommy Devito never reached his potential because he took so many hits and the running backs had very little success sustaining a running game. Things have gotten much better for the group and they now have Matthew Bergeron as a star at left tackle. The center position has also been solidified with Carlos Vetterollo as a returning starter.
This group opened a lot of big running lanes for Sean Tucker last season but they also allowed too many sacks. If they continue their trend of improvement from a few years ago, they could be a big factor in the offense taking that next step. However, Louisville has 8 sacks over the last two years and this year’s defense should be better at getting after the quarterback.