Today is officially the day that the second year of the Scott Shafer era begins, and it all starts in the Dome against Villanova.
This team is coming off a 6-6 season and a bowl game win. The expectations are much higher going into this season, with hopes that Syracuse can compete in the ACC toward a conference championship or even just contend.
Terrel Hunt returns as the man under center and although there are some names gone, there are young guys coming in who can make a difference. It starts with being comfortable and confident in the new surroundings and environment. Since the game is a short time away, it is time to look into the keys to the Villanova game.
1. Get the Dome loud
The Dome is called the Loud House for a reason. This entire Shafer era is partially to bring SU football back to its glory days—to make it a big deal in Central New York and to get people excited about seeing the Orange play on the gridiron. Every year is a building process and making the Dome loud is another step to this. When the Dome is loud, it makes for an exciting atmosphere. This type of atmosphere is what recruits want to play in front of. It is all about putting on a good show.
2. Terrel Hunt
He’s the leader on this team. Last season he showed at times to be inconsistent. He was a first-year starter and there is always room for improvement. This game is a first glance to see whether or not Hunt got better and if so, what did he do to get better? One of the main things was his inconsistent passing. Perhaps it is something he worked on during the offseason and it may make him a better quarterback this year.
3. Running game
Syracuse had its No. 1 running back in Jerome Smith last year. He has since decided to take things to another level and go to the NFL. Now with Prince-Tyson Gulley running the show in the backfield, and George Morris backing him up, Syracuse has a slightly inexperienced backfield. The good thing for the Orange is its secret weapons. Sometimes Shafer uses his depth chart in games, but he’s a firm believer in using fresh legs. He will use his freshest players, despite the situation, because of the level of trust he has in everyone.
4. Jamal Custis
Custis is a freshman, but someone to keep an eye on. The freshman is a 6’5” wide receiver but there are talks of him actually taking on the role of a tight end. Having a receiver with that height is huge because of third down and goal line situations. Sometimes it is too hard to sneak in a quick run through the lane and a quick toss to a player with height is exactly what is needed. He’s going to have the role of a closer—the one who is used in certain situations and everyone knows what he’s going to do. He could be an extremely vital part of the Syracuse offense.
The defense is always, and will be a key part of any team during any game. The defense has gone through its share of injuries and losses due to graduation or the NFL Draft, so it seems like the defense is constantly having new guys filling in. It is important to keep an eye on this defense against a team like Villanova. Seeing what it can do will be a hint as to how it may be for the remainder of the season.
Syracuse and Villanova kick off at 7:00 at the Dome. Follow The Fizz on Twitter @OrangeFizz for all in-game updates. Also, a new Fizz Feature – join Austin Pollack and Seth Goldberg at 4:00 as they’ll do a LIVE FizzCast to prepare for the Villanova game.
Posted by: Austin Pollack