The Syracuse Orange looks to maintain momentum as it travels to take on the UConn Huskies on Saturday night. Can the Orange avoid looking past the Huskies? Here’s what we’re looking at…
Kevin- Tony White vs. Freshman QB
An injury forced Zion Turner into the starting role for the Huskies. If the Orange can slow down the UConn running game, it may allow Tony White to let things fly to confuse the young quarterback. Syracuse got back to business last week against Malik Cunningham and if they can get to Turner early they can allow some of the substitutes to see extended time in the second half.
Steve – (Right side of) Line development in week two
I do not bite the hand that feeds. I am expected to speak online and there is a lot to consider. Mainly the right side of the offensive line. Chris Bleich and Dakota Davis didn’t look the part last weekend, but can bounce back a bit with a personnel demotion they face. Connecticut doesn’t have anyone of Yasir Abdullah’s quality, so the story of the tape is what the Orange can do to minimize penalties and improve Bleich’s play in pass protection. Davis may have been a function of playing the speed of the game in new positions. It would also be nice to see the second strings have a real run there.
Christian – The racing game
This applies to both sides of the ball. For offense, we know what Syracuse is getting with Sean Tucker and Garrett Shrader. The question now is whether Robert Anae can continue to balance each player’s workload and pass the ball as he did for the first three and a half quarters against Louisville. It will be important to make sure Tucker and Shrader don’t get too overworked in a game Syracuse should win. On the other side of the field, the defensive line had its ups and downs against the Cardinals’ rushing attack. UConn counters with Nathan Carter, a running back who has already rushed for over 300 yards this year and over 100 yards in every game. We know the defensive line looked impressive in the pass rush, but now is the time to build some positive momentum in the run defense.
Mike – Maximilian Mang and Derek McDonald in starting roles
That point was probably beaten to death in less than a week, but I’ll say it one more time – losing Chris Elmore and Stefon Thompson for the year will have a serious effect on how both sides of the ball work. This is an opportunity for Mang and McDonald to adjust to their increased playing time. Mang saw the pitch in every game last year and replaced Elmore before, so it’s less of a transition for him. The looming decision is whether he will remain primarily a blocker or if he could see targets in the new offense. McDonald’s is the biggest question mark. He had an interception last week, but it remains to be seen how he will handle the pressure of starting work, especially against tougher opponents later on. A strong showing here would be a major confidence booster.
Andy – Player rotation in the top six
One of the most impressive things about the season-opening win was the performance of the defensive line and rotating linebackers who were a glaring depth concern for the Orange. One game doesn’t solve the problems, but at least shows that Tony White’s side of the ball can change a lot from season to season. UConn should provide an opportunity for players like Denis Jacquez Jr, Austin Roon, Anwar Sparrow, Leon Lowrey and Chase Simmons to play important snaps and show they can be as impactful as Kevon Darton and Derek McDonald have been in victory.
That’s what we’re looking for, what are you going to focus on in this one?