Although the SU defense has been playing well of late, that unit tends to struggle against quality running backs. This week, the Orange will face one of the top tailbacks in the ACC and arguably one of the top tailbacks in the entire country. The Florida State junior is ranked second in the conference in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He’s averaging better than 110 yards on the ground per game. The ‘Cuse defense, meanwhile, has given up 200 rushing yards in a game three times already this season — against Maryland, Clemson, and Western Michigan. With the Seminoles again getting inconsistent play from the quarterback position and upfront on the offensive line, expect Cam Akers to take a leading role in the FSU game plan this week.
Speaking of inconsistent offensive line play…
Actually, we HAVE seen consistent performances from SU’s offensive line. It’s just that the results have consistently failed to meet reasonable standards. Syracuse is ranked dead last in the country in sacks allowed. Opponents have combined to produce 35 sacks against the Orange so far this season. That’s three more than the closest team in the rankings. The 0-7 Akron Zips are next in line, allowing 32 sacks this season.
Dino Babers said at the beginning of the week that he’d give some reserves extra reps at practice with possible personnel changes being considered for this Saturday’s game. One thing is for certain, until the play of the O-line improves, it’s unreasonable to expect the overall play of the offense to improve. With Tommy DeVito and Clayton Welch both nursing injuries, the guys upfront need to do a much better job protecting their quarterbacks.
Attention to Detail
Despite how poorly the offense has played the last couple of weeks, Syracuse somehow still had a chance to beat both NC State and Pittsburgh. However, we continue to see this team make too many mistakes. Both games featured a dropped interception, both games featured too many penalties (21 combined penalties against the Orange), and both games featured missed field goals from the reigning Lou Groza Award winner. Last week for instance, Syracuse made four trips inside the red zone and came away with just one touchdown. You can’t leave that many points on the table in close games. There is such a fine line between winning and losing in the ACC. The Orange needs to start doing the little things well in order to have a chance to pick up its first conference win of the season this Saturday.
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