It is Syracuse week! I am looking forward to the game here in NJ on Saturday. It will be my first in a very long time.
We did a Q&A with SBN's Syracuse Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician
These are their answers to our questions...
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1. Syracuse lost a close one to Northwestern last weekend. How do you think they respond against USC?
It's such a special situation to play a team of the caliber of USC that I think they'll put the Northwestern game out of their mind. What choice do they have? They can't worry about being 0-2 or losing that momentum that almost propelled them to a W. Doesn't matter. I think SU proved they're capable of making some fireworks but they did it against a team with much less talent than this one. To go into this game expecting to be able to put 40+ on the board would be silly.
2. How much different will this Orange team be this year compared to the one that faced the Trojans a season ago?
Offensively, you're going to see a much more open scheme with a bunch more weapons. If Alec Lemon plays (which is a big if), SU has a great 1-2 punch with Marcus Sales at WR. If not, we've got some young guns that can make plays, like burner Jeremiah Kobena. Ashton Broyld should see more PT and he's our Wildcat/wild card RB. Ryan Nassib likes his tight ends and he'll have two to choose from in Beckett Wales and David Stevens. If the offensive line can somehow hold off the Trojan defenders and give Nassib time, he can make plays and get these guys in position to make their own plays.
Defensively, the line might not ave the marquee name of a Chandler Jones, but I dare say it's a more balanced and deep unit across the board. The big question mark will be our secondary, which got torched by Barkley last year.
It's been a pleasure to watch Nassib mature over the last three seasons. He's got a real command of the position and this offense and his experience is finally paying big dividends. He's not gonna play on Sundays but he's got a chance to go down, statistically-speaking, in the same breath as Donovan McNabb and Don McPherson.
Nassib's big issues last season were making the big play, throwing the deep ball and decision-making in the pocket. He's never going to have the arm to make consistent big plays but he can do enough. And he's got all the weapons he could want, so as long as he keeps making good decisions, he'll keep up the good stats.
4. Considering Syracuse gave up 41 points to Northwestern, will Nassib have to play a near-perfect game in order for the Orange to stay within striking distance of USC?
I'm almost less concerned with Nassib being perfect than I am with the defensive secondary playing "adequately." I know they say you have to have a short memory as a DB but our guys have to be thinking about how Barkley, Lee and Woods made them look silly last year. If they can somehow limit the big plays, grab a turnover or two and if Shamarko Thomas can put some big hits on anyone going over the middle, that could make the biggest difference out of everything.
5. Where does Syracuse rank in the Big East? Offensively and defensively, how does this team as a whole stack up?
Based on what I've seen, and I know I'm biased, but I think we're somewhere in the 3-5 range right now. Offensively, I'll take us against anyone. Louisville obviously has a great QB and offense as well, but other than them, I don't see any in the league that can keep pace if we're firing on all cylinders. Defensively, we're strong in the front seven but our secondary remains a real liability. So long as we keep giving up big plays and making mental errors, we'll remain a middle of the pack, second-tier defense. But...I have hopes.
6. Game prediction? Does USC cover the 27-point spread?
I'm not gonna sit here and tell you I think Syracuse can win the game. I'll certainly be hoping for it. If nothing else, I'd like to see the Orange at least keep it competitive for 2 and a half quarters. I'm going with 38-24 as the Orange show big improvements across the board from last year, USC doesn't cover and the Orange can take the title of "Best 0-2 Team In The Nation" with them into next week.
Our answers will be up to their questions later today.