Orange Nation

SU vs Pitt: Steve Infanti's Keys to Victory

Syracuse, coming off a loss to Clemson, will take on Pittsburgh this Saturday. 

Here are NewsChannel 9 Sports Director Steve Infanti's Keys to Victory: 

Contain Qadree

Pitt ranks second-to-last in the ACC in passing offense.  In order to beat Syracuse, the Panthers will need to have a lot of success running the football.  

That makes senior tailback Qadree Ollison SU's top priority.  Ollison is more than capable of producing a big game.  

He scored two touchdowns in a 24-19 victory over Georgia Tech on September 15th and rushed for more than 100 yards the week before in a loss to nationally-ranked Penn State.  

The Orange fell at Clemson last week, in large part, because they couldn't stop the run in the fourth quarter.

Travis Etienne finished the day with with 203 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Some of that had to do with fatigue late in the game, but Brain Ward and the SU defense better make some corrections from last week in order to keep Pitt's running game in check.

Consistently Special

We've heard it countless times since Dino Babers took over at Syracuse.  He wants his players to be "consistently good and not occasionally great."

Well, the special teams unit has been consistently terrific so far this season.  

Thanks to Sterling Hofrichter, the Orange ranks among the top 10 in the country in punt return defense and net punting.  

Andre Szmyt leads the nation in made field goals per game with 2.6.  He has connected on all but one of his 14 attempts, including a couple of 50-yarders.

Plus, he's a perfect 26-for-26 on extra points.

Add in the return game led by Sean Riley, who took one back to the house against UConn, and it's easy to see why many consider SU's special teams unit among the best in the nation.

Close games can often come down to special teams play.  Syracuse seems to have the edge here. 

Finish Drives

Any time you lose a close game, there are plays you wish you could have back.

Take last week at Clemson, for example.  Just in the fourth quarter alone, you can point to the two big fourth downs plays.

Syracuse got called for a penalty on its 4th and 1 forcing a punt.  The Tigers converted their 4th and 6 which ultimately let to the game-winning touchdown.

Don't forget about what happened in the first quarter though.  Syracuse had two promising drives end with a field goal rather than a touchdown.

Jumping out to a 6-0 lead in Death Valley was nice, but 14-0 obviously would've been better.  Not to mention, it might have led to a better outcome for the Orange.

This Saturday, the Syracuse offense can't do Pitt any favors.

When Eric Dungey and company are in position to score, they need to cash in with seven points and not three.

SU is now 4-1. Pitt is 2-3.

The game starts at 12:20 p.m.


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