My 2022 SU Football Preview - Part 11: The October schedule | Syracusefan.com

My 2022 SU Football Preview - Part 11: The October schedule

SWC75

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Saturday October 1st TBA vs. WAGNER at the Dome TV: TBA

Wagner was 0-11 last year. We didn’t play them. Being an FCS team they have no major college ranking and being an 0-11 team, they aren’t in the FCS top 25, either. Sagarin ranked them #255 of 258 Division 1 (FBS + FCS) teams, ahead of Stetson, Butler and Presbyterian. It’s hard to say…

The Seahawks are still another area small college team that we play for our FCS opponent rather than renewing our annual series with Colgate, which would obviously be more meaningful. My brother went to Hamilton College and they used to play Wagner every year. The Seahawks won the DIII championship in 1987 and that’s where this school probably belongs. We beat a 3-8 Wagner team 54-0 in 2013 and a 4-7 Wagner team 62-10 in 2018 and it might be worse this year: in the last three years the Seahawks are 1-25. They were out-scored 141-424 by their fellow FCS teams, (except Temple who beat them 41-7 and Buffalo who won 69-7). They gave up 39 sacks so “Senior Jaalon Frazier could do little under center, throwing for 624 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Rickey Spruill rushed for 489 yards and 3 TDs, while Naiem Simmons had 271 receiving yards and a TD. Leo Titus provided some excitement on defense with 71 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks. He earned NEC Defensive Player of the Year for the second time as a result. Another senior, Ahmad Lyons, had two picks. Kicker Austin Hosier was 4/7 on FG tries.” (Nunes)

The stats, from their Media Guide, (no rankings available)

Offense Defense
Scoring 12.8 38.6
Rushing 136.2 173.6
Passing 110.2 230.0
Total 246.4 403.6
Field Position N/A
Turnover Margin -6

Comment: This one’s a ‘W’ but what else will it mean, other than giving us two consecutive seeks off when we may need it?


BYE Week


Saturday October 15th TBA vs. NORTH CAROLINA STATE at the Dome TV: TBA

North Carolina State was 9-3 last year, 6-2 in the conference. They beat us 17-41 in Raleigh. They were ranked #20 by the writers and #19 by the coaches and are currently #13 in both. Athlon has them #12 and Lindy’s #15.

Here comes the ‘meat’ of the schedule – or the meat grinder. Normally the NC State would be the weakest of our October opponents but this looks like a peak year for the Wolfpack. Athlon has them at #12 and Lindy’s at #15. Last year they beat Clemson 27-21 in two overtimes. They have absolutely tortured Syracuse over the years, winning 13 of 15 games. Our 2018 managed to beat them 51-41 and Scott Shafer’s lone winner, the 2013 team, beat an NC State team whose offense had been crippled by injuries 24-10. That’s it for good Syracuse memories. It’s hasn’t matter where the game was played: we are 1-6 in the Dome and 1-7 in their place.

They, too, have an outstanding returning quarterback, Devin Leary 283/431 (65.7%) for 3,433 yards, 35TDs and just 5 interceptions, numbers we can only dream of. He lost his #1 target, Emeka Emezie but gets the next two back: Thayer Thomas (51/596/8) and Devin Carter (31/556/6). Carter is another big wideout at 6-3 215. They had a solid running game last year but no returning running back gained 100 yards. But 4/5 of the line returns.

The defense is “stacked with experienced players”, the result of dealing with injuries in previous years. Nine starters return: two linemen, all three linebackers and 4/5 of the defensive backfield from a team that ranked #14 in scoring defense and #21 in total yards. Linebacker Drake Thomas was 1st team All-ACC. Another linebacker, Payton Wilson led the team in tackles in 2019 and the conference in 2020 before getting hurt in the second game last year. Nose tackle Cory Durden anchors the line. Safeties Tanner Engle and Cyrus Fagan are also coming back from injuries.

Their kicking game was stellar last year, producing four touchdowns. Place kicker Christopher Dunn enters his 5th season owning all the school records going 69/86 (80%) on field goals and never missing any of 170 extra points. While putting 377 points on the board. They need a new punter and got Shane McDonough from Towson State, who averaged 41.3, (punting is punting at all levels). They lost their outstanding kick returner, Zonovan Knight, who took two kickoffs back for scores, (one against us), but Thayer returned punts for 9.5 yards a crack.

Offense Defense
Scoring 33.1 (28th) 19.7 (14th)
Rushing 126.0 (99th) 124.0 (22th)
Passing 288.4 (19th) 207.6 (31st)
Total 414.4 (59th) 331.6 (21th)
Field Position 30.7 (29th) 25.5 (5th)
Turnover Margin +6 (29th)

Comment: This is another team with a potent passing game but not much of a running game going against our defense with a great back 8 and new faces up front. Coach Dave Doeren: “When you have a veteran roster, the expectations rise. It’s about exceeding those expectations…Our guys will be very motivated. They have a chip on their shoulder. We didn’t get to the ACC championship game. We have a lot to prove, still.”


Saturday October 22ed TBA at CLEMSON TV: TBA

Clemson was 10-3 last year, 6-2 in the conference. We almost beat them at the Dome, 14-17. They were #14 in the writer’s poll and #16 in the coach’s but are currently #4 in both as well as both Athlon and Lindy’s

Clemson wasn’t Clemson last year but they were still good enough to win 10 games. There are some opinions out there that the program could be slipping from its national championship contender level but there are a lot more opinions that it was just an off year. We’ll find out his year. Athlon, Lindy’s and the AP writers will believe it when they see it. They all rank the Tigers #4.

When the great Trevor Lawrence left, Dabo Swinney had a five-star replacement, the massive (6-4 250) D. J. Uiagalelei. But his output has been more like Garrett Shrader’s: Last year he was 208/374 (56%) with 10TDs and 9 picks. He ran for 308 yards and 4 scores. His decision-making was often questioned. Dabo: “We’ve got to get some confidence in the passing game and we lost our confidence last year. Once we lost it, it was hard to get it back.” Swinney has another 5-star to plug in if DJ doesn’t improve: Cade Klubnik. It must be nice.

“TIGHT END Davis Allen is a playmaker to watch. (28/208/3) He could emerge as one of the top TIGHT ENDS in the country.” They lost their top wide-out, Justin Ross but the next three, Joseph Ngata (23/498/1) and (the unrelated) Beaux (31/407/3) and Descari Collins (16/221/0), all about 6-3/6-4 and 210-215. They also have their top 3 running backs and 4 of their 5 internal offensive linemen. Will Shipley gained 739 yards at 5.0 a crack and 11 touchdowns. Kobe Pace set quite a pace, (6.2) in gaining 641 for 6 scores. Phil Mafah ran for 292 and 3 scores.

Dabo has both a new offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter, (replacing Virginia’s Tony Elliott) and Wes Goodwin, replacing the legendary Brent Venables, now the head man at Oklahoma. Goodwin will have plenty to work with. Tackles Tyler Davis and Bryan Bresee “are two of the best in the country”. Ends Myles Murphy, Xavier Brosnan, KJ Henry and Justin Mascoll are all of ‘starter quality” and totaled 14.5 sacks. They lost two top linebackers but “should be more athletic” because “the talent should be Swinney’s best ever at the position”. Again, it must be nice. The secondary could be a problem, having lost three starters.

B. T. Potter is back for a 5th year and he “should be one of the best kickers in the country“. He “has a huge leg” and was 21/26 on field goals last season and perfect on 38 extra points. He was practicing punts in the spring “and was impressive”. Shipley may become the kick returner.

Offense Defense
Scoring 26.3 (82nd) 14.8 (2nd)
Rushing 167.9 (58th) 96.3 (7th)
Passing 191.2 (103rd) 209.2 (34th)
Total 359.1 (108th) 305.5 (8th)
Field Position 30.9 (23rd) 26.0 (9th)
Turnover Margin +2 (53rd)

Comment: Their offense lacks the explosiveness it had with Lawrence and Travis Etienne but the defense will keep them in every game. Swinney: “This team is battle-tested. They’re mentally and physically more experienced than they were at this time last year. They guys that we think are going to be dominant players, they’ve been what we need all spring. And then the guys that we really needed to mature and grow and get better, we were able to do that this spring. When we put it together, we have a chance to be a really good football team around here.”


Saturday October 29th TBA vs. NOTRE DAME at the Dome TV: TBA

Notre Dame was 9-3 last season. We didn’t play them. They were #8 in the writer’s poll and #9 in the coach’s poll. They are currently #5 in both.

Notre Dame retains its football independence while being a full ACC member in the other sports. They have an agreement to play all the ACC schools over a period of years on a rotation. It’s our turn again. Over the years we are 3-7 against the mighty Irish, (better than we’ve done with NC State!), but 0-4 since we joined the ACC. We beat them in Yankee Stadium six days after the Kennedy assassination, 14-7, then didn’t play them again for 40 years. In 2003, Walter Reyes ran right through the fainting Irish for 5TDs in a 38-12 rout in the last time they visited the Dome. Incredibly, G-Rob beat them in South Bend 24-23 in his penultimate game. But in the ACC era, it’s been 15-31, 33-50, 3-36, (also in Yankee Stadium – that was our 2018 team!) and 21-45. If we are going well this year, we could do better than that but if we’re beaten down by a series of losses, we could lose by that kind of score again.

One thing that could be in our favor is that Coach Brian Kelly got sick of getting beaten in the national playoff and headed for LSU, figuring he might be able to win a national title there. Notre Dame used to win those things but the balance of power has shifted strongly to the south. Kelly was no bargain as a human being but he was a very good football coach. He won a couple of D2 national titles at Grand Valley State in Michigan. After a brief stop at Central Michigan, he built Cincinnati into an undefeated Sugar Bowl team - and then bugged out on them before the bowl game to take over immediately at Notre Dame. In a dozen years there, he went 113-39, including three unbeaten regular seasons. In the 13 years before that, Our Lady was 91-68 under three different coaches. Before that was the Lou Holtz Era, when they last won the national title. Now their coach is 36-year-old Marcus Freeman, who had been Kelly’s defensive coordinator. That may allow for a seamless transition. Or it may be that Freeman will join the list of failed Notre Dame coaches in between the great ones: Hunk Anderson, Elmer Layden, (who wasn’t all that bad but wasn’t Frank Leahy), Terry Brennan, Joe Kuharich, High Devore, Gerry Faust, Tyrone Willingham and Charley Weiss. THAT’s the time to play Notre Dame. It wasn’t a good sign for the Irish when, in Freeman’s coaching debut, (Kelly again bugged out for the bowl game), Notre Dame blew a 21 point lead in losing to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Freeman needs to find a new quarterback. He has last year’s two back-ups Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne, who were a combined 36 of 65 (55%) for 522 yards, 5TDs and 3 picks. “The concern is the difference-making ability in the pass-catching corps beyond Michael Mayer who will likely be the first TIGHT END off the board on NFL draft day in 2023.” Mayer: “I don’t think anybody in the country can cover me one on one.” Among the wide-outs: “The star-in-the making is Lorenzo Styles. But the Irish lack a wide-out with size.” That’s sure different form the last time we played them, when I thought our guys were trying to cover basketball players. Now, we’ve got the basketball players.

Kyren Williams left for the pros after consecutive 1,000 yard seasons. But “the ND running game should be potent, led by sophomore Logan Diggs, (53/239/3) and cat-quick Chris Tyree, with youngsters Jadarian Price and Audric Estime impressing in the spring…the strength of the offense is the line, after an abysmal start to ’21 but a strong finish”. They will have four starts back.

And that’s how many are back on defense. Freeman has to replace two linemen, two linebackers and three D-backs. He’s brought in Al Golden as his new DC to help find the replacements. But this is Notre Dame. They have replacements.

“The Irish have difference makers on all three levels: end Isaiah Foskey, an NFL first round draft candidate and tackle Jayson Ademiola was a disruptive force. Linebacker Marist Linfau was in line for a breakout year in ’21 before suffering a season-ending leg injury in August. The safety position has absorbed a significant loss with first round pick Kyle Hamilton’s departure for the NFL but the Irish added Northwestern All-America safety Brandon Joseph through the transfer portal. Notre Dame’s inability to match-up athletically at cornerback was it’s downfall in Kelly’s biggest games. Cam Hart and Tarig Bracy look primed to excel but proven depth is a concern.”

They are looking for both a new punter and place-kicker. Chris Tyree had a 96 yard kickoff return against Wisconsin.

Offense Defense
Scoring 35.2 (19th) 19.7 (15th)
Rushing 143.6 (83rd) 135.3 (37th)
Passing 282.5 (20rd) 224.2 (64th)
Total 426.2 (45th) 359.5 (43rd)
Field Position 29.2 (59th) 28.9 (67th)
Turnover Margin +9 (15th)

Comment: I can’t get over the feeling that the Golden Domers are going to slip back into the frustrating mediocrity of the Davie-Willingham-Weiss years again without Kelly. Freeman: “We will be disciplined. We will be tough. We will work tirelessly. As a team and as a family, (La Familia!), we will accomplish our goals. I plan on leading this team with an unwavering standard. We will call it the golden standard. We’re going to out-work everybody in the country. We’re going to do things that nobody else has done.” Jeesh!
 

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