Fizz 5: Syracuse’s Keys to Beating Northwestern & Avenging Last Season’s Loss

Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats knocked off the Orange in a nail-biter at the Dome last year.

Syracuse lost a teeth-grinder to Northwestern last season at the Dome, 42-41. Now that the venue switches to Ryan Field in Evanston, home of the Wildcats, this matchup between the Orange and purple even more interesting.

No. 17 Northwestern picked up a win last weekend over Cal 44-30, and the Wildcats know they belong in the Top 25 rankings. The Northwestern defense had trouble limiting the passing yards of Cal quarterback Jared Goff. The freshman completed 38 of 63 passes for 445 yards while tossing two touchdowns, but threw three interceptions.

For Syracuse’s 23-17 loss to Penn State, Drew Allen struggled in his starting debut. The fifth-year senior was just 16-for-37 without a touchdown and two interceptions.

Here are five things to watch for in Saturday’s game against Northwestern.

1) Analyzing Allen. The Syracuse defense put the Orange in a position to win by stopping the running game, but Allen had to provide the points and was unable to. Syracuse limited Penn State running backs to just 57 yards on the ground, but allowed 296 passing yards. The good thing for Syracuse is tha Northwester struggled to control the pass in its first game. Allen should have opportunities to throw for completions. Problem A for Allen last week was his communication with his receivers. He may catch a few breaks against a Wildcat defense that allowed a freshman quarterback to throw for 445 yards.

2) Syracuse’s running game. Jerome Smith scored the only two touchdowns the Orange had last week. He rushed for 73 yards on 16 carries. Prince-Tyson Gulley rushed for only 24 yards on 12 carries. Gulley and Smith need to become the foundation of the offense, and take the pressure off an inexperienced starting quarterback. The Wildcats defense allowed 93 rushing yards to Cal, but limited the big plays on the ground. Syracuse may need those big gains from the ground attack.

3) Wideouts need to step up. Allen evenly distributed his passes last week. In his 16 completions, four went to Ashton Broyld, three to Jarrod West, two to Adrian Flemming, and Jeremiah Kobena, Christopher Clark, and Beckett Wales each caught one. But to beat a good team like Northwestern, the Orange will need a few plays through the air to move the chains and score points. One of the targets will need to win his individual matchup and make a play. A receiver needs to break out as a security blanket in a struggling air attack.

4) Stop the run. The Orange defense limited the Nittany Lions to just 57 yards on the ground on 38 attempts, good for just 1.5 yards per carry. The defensive line looked strong in plugging any holes for Penn State running backs. Northwestern ran for 209 yards and two  touchdowns against Cal. Syracuse should focus on Treyvon Green. He ran for 129 yards and had both scores. Green has quick feet and the Orange defense needs to keep a tight line.

5) These guys know each other. SU tangled with the Wildcats last season, and these two teams also played each other in ’09. That was Scott Shafer’s first season as defensive coordinator at SU, while Pat Fitzgerald was HC in Evanston. The Orange have some familiarity with Wildcat quarterback Trevor Siemian and Green after last year. Syracuse trailed in that game 35-13, but fought back to lose by just a point. The Orange won’t be caught off guard by Northwestern, although the Cats don’t know what to expect from Allen. Maybe an advantage for SU.

Prediction: Syracuse battles tough, but Northwestern is a better team right now and is playing at home. The Cats pick up a 35-28 win.

Posted: Austin Pollack

37 Comments on this Post

  1. PSU running game????? They(PSU) have no running game at all!!! NW has a running game. SU will not score 28 points. And Allen is games away from a real starter. The only thing that might help SU is NW has some guys hurt. But now it looks like he is going to play. The PSU game was a hoax or a smoke screen. PSU is not that good!! But NW is!! NW 39 SU 19!!!

  2. Let the staff and players work this out. This team is far better than many people think it is.

    Drew Allen hasn’t been with the team very long. His timing probably improved a lot this week. NWU is an excellent team, that’s true, but I think we’ll see DA control the offense throttle a lot better vs NWU.

  3. @Saltine

    Yes, I’m sure the whole offseason wasnt enough time to get his timing and chemistry down.. but this last week has made him into Nassib 2.0 *SARCASM*

    Gimme a break. Terry has it right. Cuse is in for another LONG DAY.

  4. orangeinva

    If Kobena and Broyld are effective..Krautman will either win it or lose it for us late.

  5. Ron,do you get FoxSports 1? Tonight Bergen Catholic HS is in La.,playing one of if not the best “this yr” John Curtis Hs at 7PM till 930 PM!Should be interesting but this ain’t DBP at their peak a few yrs ago!!

  6. No word on why no shovel in ground for SUFB facilities. WHY??? Just trying to be a stone in Dr Gross’s shoe!! After all its September 2013 ain’t it!!

    We always forget one thing Allen transferred out not the QB’s before him on Oklahoma’s the depth chart. There’s a reason for that and we’ll see it again Saturday in Chicago!! I’m sorry to say!!

  7. @Terry;

    Oklahoma’s(last years)starting QB was beaten out by a sophomore this year. Maybe he too will transfer to another school.

  8. I’m afraid we are in for a lone day!! I don’t think Allen is the issue. No offensive line…poor play calling…poor receiver play….no QB looks good with that combination.
    Terry’s right. PSU wasn’t that good. A few real quality players leftover from before the issues. Lack depth…but more than enough talent to beat Cuse.
    Get over it…we are not a competitive program! You can’t recruit in the 60/70’s every year and expect to win. The best we can hope for is good error free football from good coaching….that remains a big question!
    Shafer is not a HC and the offensive coaching staff stinks from top to bottom.

  9. Wow good see cuse 17 is showing his colors… Who Would you suggest we get as a coach instead of HCSS who will bring us top 25 recurring classes and ten win seasons right away? I can hardly see why you can say Scott isn’t head coaching material a whole what 4 months into his head coaching tenure?

  10. @Cuse17;

    WOW, all of that from playing one game. See,that’s what I believe is the proble here at Syracuse. Team has a bad day(didn’t win)and people are already holloring for his removal. Don’t give him or his staff a chance,let’s just get rid of them all. last week we had 2 DII programs beat a DI team. I’m wondering if their fans are yelling for their coaches to be fired?

    Cuse17 and all of the others who start their damn crying about the coaching staff,lets give them a chance(5 years)to see what the out come is going to be. Any of you who starts crying foul,go stand in a corner somewhere when you start and please stay the hell off of this website.

    Thanks to all you cry babies.

  11. [email protected]

    Allen didn’t have the whole offseason.

    In addition, gameday is a whole different story.

    Cuse will be fine.

  12. Don’t like SU’s chances today. 35-13 NW wins this one.

  13. Cuse 17 don’t let them get to you. SU was super lucky to gey PSU at its worse in YEARS and still lost to a middle road team. NW is much better and they still believe NW is a chump. Well I know both of us are very series CUSE fans who are tired of the lousy play from SU year in and out. They(above fans) just let that run off their backs. It just doesn’t bother them. And you wonder why quality talant shies away from SU!! I’m not confident at all about todays game, but you never know. What pisses me off about homers is that the truth to them is poor sportsmanship on our behave. But hell I’ll never stop saying what I believe in and I hope I catch hell from the homers this weekend “if” the CUSE wins. I have admitted my poor judgements before, but its time to mentions issues the homers refuse to talk about.

    Where’s the shovel for the new facilities. That should be a t-shirt issue!!

    And what the #@%& is going on here about no TV for todays game for the CUSE. #@&% even Colgate is on the tub. No wonder SU is going to be a bottom feeder. I looked all over the TV for a station here in the southern tier! No luck!! Am I missing something???? But maybe god just doesn’t what me to blow a fuse watching the NW game.

  14. Terry,

    The game is on the big ten network. So it is on TV but depending on your cable package you might not have it. Not missing much besides poor play calling, bad tackling and bad QB play.

    Ron,

    Those teams that beat 1A teams where the top of 1AA not division 2.

  15. 17-0 NW at half. SU will be lucky to score tonight!! The karma of this team sucks. The staff is out of town and I haven’t seen one snap!! What really shows is that SU is one of the bottom dwellers of NCAA football is that on ESPNU bottom line(my only sense of viewing the game)they gave NW stats and no SU stats. So Ron and Russ and whomever homer out there do you think SU is an ass kicking team. I don’t and tired of the embarrassing games as this one. Love the CUSE just tired of all the niceties you guys put on about this team. Oh well another losing season no doubt. 3-9 from my 6-6. Thank god for the NASCAR race on now!! TIRED OF THIS CRAP!!!! BC and Miami and Rutgirls look good!!! Where has the common sense good of Syracuse football gone. This is not the answer or this staff either. Their lost at their job!

  16. Drew who ? Why hasn’t he been benched already ? Starting to think he plays for NW :/

  17. Terry,

    Miami did not look good lol. Come on bud!

  18. Believe me I’m not enjoying this. I’ve been saying Shafer was a bad choice since the day it was announced. I’ve also been saying 6 wins at best?
    This was pretty embarrassing. They could have made it worse if they wanted.
    I think it’s time some of you take the lolypops out of your mouths and realize what we’ve got. Shafer and his staff are over their heads. The offensive staff stinks. The kids are hard working 2 and at best 3 star recruits with little chance of being coached up. The 2014/2015 recruiting classes will be more of the same and Shafer will be gone….I hope it’s right after we get a new athletic director!

  19. Cuse17 is right. This staff is treading water and it shows. NW could of scored 60 on SU, but their coach is class and damn good coach to boot!! But at the same time the staff does not have the talent to coach up. Moses couldn’t coach up this team. Enough already!! PSU was winnable and they lost that to.

    Carlton as usual you’re wrong. Miami beat Florida the betting edge. Florida is no PSU or NW!! You make it sound that Miami is another Temple or er SU!! No way!! Miami will be back because of talent and coaching. Something the SU administration might look at in the future.

    DAMN DISCUSSING SHOW FOR SU!! Here we go again!! I smell GROB’s B.O. again!! Its been 20 yrs since SU was though of as a quality team. What happened??? Its so hard to take and also to admire to!! Tired of this $hit!!

  20. @Cuse17;

    Nancy Cantor will be gone before next season starts and I’m hoping that she takes Dr. Gross with her.

    The thing that bother’s me most is the building of this new IPF. They haven’t started it yet because of the lack of money.
    Why doesn’t Nancy Cantor take $20/30 million of that $1.1 Billion that was raised last year so that construction can start,LIKE 3 MONTHS AGO?

    I hope that the next chancellor isn’t a person who can’t see past her/his nose as to what’s needed here in order for us to start winning.

  21. There is no question that this game highlighted Syracuse’s lack of talent. Forget blaming the coaches….Players win games. We had no players on Offense that could match the big guns on North Western. They have 2 QB’s….we have none…they had several receivers….who do we have? We need better talent….that is the bottom line

  22. Terry,

    UF is not a very good team overall. Their passing game is dreadful and they turned the ball over a ton today in the redzone and Miami still barely won the game. UF barely beat Toledo last week for crying out loud! No problem /w you not wanting to agree /w me but if you’re going to say I’m wrong better back it up /w somthing.

  23. Tough one for Syracuse tonight. Defense wasn’t very strong against a very good Northwestern offense. Allen continues to struggle. Does Orange Nation see Terrel Hunt next week?

    Thoughts?

  24. Cuse Don't Luse

    @Austin we better he looked impressive on his one drive capping it with a rush TD this team lacks in so many places this season lies on the shoulders of justin pugh who screwed us but still mcdonald is dreadful as a coordinator run the damn ball smith getting 100 yards a game one games for us last year

  25. I guess I was wrong posting that Allen had lost his starting role to Hunt for the remainder of the season.

    Article on syr.com says that both Shafer and McDonald love Both QB’s and that Allen is “OUR QUARTERBACK”.

    Yesterday was embarassing and I think someone needs to swallow their pride and make the changes that needs to be made,in order to salvage the season.

    Drew Allen is not the player that the papers led us to believe.

  26. Carlton again you are something else. Florida was not playing Syracuse!! Yes they are not a super power, but still a good team. Toledo should of beat SU to-so. Research your ideas first. HCSS would flush his talent for Floridas talent any day!! Miami is good but your opinions are off base. PS Who will have the better record for 2013 Florida or SU?? Stupid statement I know, but its something you might say.

  27. Cantor has to go… There is a group raising money to fly a plane around campus when she leaves that drags a tail….”the watch is dead”
    They threw a party when she left the last place!

    Miami is a great example…went out and got a good coach with a reputation for turning it around….Temple
    They are finishing the construction on a new competitive facility.
    They recruited their big name alumni to help recruit.
    In the middle of an NCAA mess they are on their way back.
    Simple formula… Money…coaching.. High profile..good facilities ..brings good talent!
    Does anyone think Louisville is a great place to live?
    Shafer and his staff…don’t have the horsepower and Cantor(the witch) is to worried about her liberal agenda and doesn’t care about Cuse football.
    The basketball team does it by ignoring her and the Coach gets it done!

  28. BigDipster

    Liberal agenda… really? State n church have nothing to do with “football Gods”…. Cantor isn’t the problem, that’s a stupid idea!

    * the STARTING QB… HAS 5+ interceptions in 2 GAMES And will still start the game, next game as well….

    * this season is shot to shit, dumbass coaches.. HCSS- 1 season?

    * Drew Allen sux ballz

  29. Diponomics

    SU is taking strides backwards! Why is a career backup tanking our season? Who is drew Allen?

  30. The next chancellor for Syracuse is some one who visualizes and has insight as to what is needed at Syracuse University. Nancy Cantor has neither. Review her job performance at Illinois,she damn near destroyed the athletic depart all by herself before coming to Syracuse. she went and raised $1.1 Billion last year and not one penny of it went to the athletic dept.
    She has however raised the Universities debt to over $459 million,expanded the campus by building,the corridor to downtown,which in my mind jerpordizes the welfare of it’s employees. But that’s another story for a later time.

    @Cuse17;Good post and I agree with it totally.

    @BigDipster;I don’t know what Church and State has to do with Nancy Cantor failing in her responsibilites as Chancellor of Syracuse University.

    However,I will agree this season is shot already. I guess we didn’t learn a damn thing when we brought in Greg Paulis for a year. I predicted a 9-3 season for 2013. Now I don’t know if we’re going to win a game. I feel that we’ve returned to the GROB era. THAT’S BAD MAN,REAL BAD!!!!!

  31. I hope it’s not GROB all over again…but it sure smells like it!
    We’re in for a long, frustrating, embarassing season….

  32. Cuse don't luse

    @cuse17 agreed I had high hopes for this season penn state is a win for any decent team they will get rocked in the big 10 and northwestern for being a top 20 team sure didnt look it I only watched the first half and whether it was Kirkland not blocking that guy on kick return or Wilkes blowing coverage to their super back or Allen throwing on a low projectile and getting everything tipped and almost picked (he could have easily had 6 or 7 pics) and foy not even touching the de on the first pass play or calling a successful play 2/3 times in a row we lost this game on our own and it pissed me off George McDonald may be a sec level we coach from a recruiting stand point but he was a friend add my shafer. Shafer and him are friends but he doesn’t fit the mild we want he is going after high profiled players that we can’t get and has no ties to the north region he specializes in wr which is a coaching position we already have filled and from a coordinatong standpoint it looks like he doesn’t understand the concept of a first down we either run for 1-3 yards or pass for 25+ the way this offence is going to be successful is if we use Estime broyld wales and Clark in the 5-12 yard range and then occasionally take the shot with kobena it was ridiculous to watch Allen throw 35 yards downfield to west probably our slowest reciever in blanketing double coverage and equally embarassing to throw 2 we screens in a row to Clark like our offence was so bad that we got a first down and were so shocked we ran the same play this whole year has been about having a questionable qb and stable rbs and yet we think just Cus he can throw it 70 that we need to utilize that every other play no play hunt he has good chemistry with west who Allen doesn’t utilize he can extend plays he throws a better ball he throws less picks I mean come on Allen is Paulus 2.0 the only difference is Paulus played a different sport at a high level while Allen watched the same sport at a high level also Moore funderburke and even Wayne Morgan looked good to me obviously Clark and broyld were the biggest names this game but come on Allen and west 2 games 4 catches that isn’t enough I’d rather see Estime who is shifty as hell or hunt because ur is truely a waste to see them both they have no chemistry west was targeted probably 6 times in the first half and I think one of his 2 catches canes in the second half 1 for 6 doesn’t cut it another thing is Morris looks fine when we don’t run him like we run smith run him outside and he looks overmatched on kick returns probably due to the blocking but just take a knee id rather start at the 25 everytime there is alot more I could hate to say but I feel the longer I right the less people read my whole post so if u want to talk more with angry me shoot me a comment or ask me my take on a specific problem because there is just so much wrong right now another big topic is how long do u give shafer/McDonald usually 4 years is the number I feel long and Williams are 2 recruits that carry over the end slight success Marrone had getting Thompson and Morgan but still feel we are getting mediocre players hope there are no decommitts what do the rest of u have to say I’m embarassed I had high hopes this year

  33. I got to say. Where was the defense last night. This was even worse than last week. We have experience and they looked like freshmen out their. A lot of flat footed players watching the ball. I just don’t understand. After that performance can’t see a lot of fans going to home opener. To much disapointment.

    I also hope this isn’t the start of another grob era. I sat through that and don’t think that I can sit through it again. These cosches need to figure out what they are doing and what direction they want to go and fast.

    The next two week should be wins. But after these last 2 games not so sure bout that. I will say that Allen has showed enough play as to why he didn’t start at OU. He looks lost and confused out there. He doesn’t look to any other player when he wants to throw it(4 int). Hunt looked confortable running offense. He moved the ball really well. Made good runs. Had a great pump fake and throw. I felt that Hunt should have been put in way earlier again this week. But again to little to late. If Allen does play against wager and struggles again. Than this should be the wakeup call for the coaching staff. If these coaches want to win and make a statemant to the player than this will be where it happens. If they don’t I feel that the season will be lost and will lose confidence from the players.

  34. The other thing I would like to mention. If the QB situation was as close as the coaches said in camp. I have to ask what does this say about the team? I mean it looks very different last night when Hunt got put in. Looks way better than Allen and more poised. It just doesn’t seem like something is right with this situation. I feel like we as fans are being lied to. Just wondering if you guys feel the same way. OH, I know Hunt only played that one but should have played more by now. I get it. Just wondering how you guys feel about that.

  35. Stop it…Stop the Grob comparisons please. You are way off base. First big difference: Shafer has a staff that can recruit. Recruiting already is better than Marrone or Grob. Schemes…coaches..Yadi …Yadi..all over rated. PLAYERS WITH TALENT WIN GAMES AND MAKE COACHES AND SCHEMES LOOK GOOD……..Syracuse needs more talent. We all have to be patient here. Two games does not a season make. This looked like an 0-2 start when the schedule came out..anyone who did not think so was dreaming. Let’s give this team and coaches some time. First season, they showed some good things in the defeat. Allen at QB…I am not sold…but the coaches must see something in him that they don’t see in Hunt. I would like to Hunt get some snaps if allen stumbles again….he looks like he earned it.

  36. I for one, don’t know what the coaches see in Allen. He has not started a game since HS before coming to SU. He locks in on one receiver/one side of the field and throws the ball…no moving through progressions. This is his 5th year in College…he doesn’t understand that by now? May be too late for him. Timing, flow seemed better with Hunt….his arm may not be as strong…but Allen’s strong arm is not producing results. What happened to side line routes, over the middle crossing patterns, tight end down the seem routes, clear out routes…etc. etc…have we run a screen pass in two games so far? I don’t like the simple passing schemes we are running in these first two games.

  37. Guys,I figured it better to not say nothing till I cooled down!Im not sure Im cooled down enough yet but Im with/feeling what most of ya feel!I’ll wait a day or so but DA is not a winner!!I liked the spark I saw when Hunt came in!

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