Describing Friday’s win as a lackluster performance would be an understatement. An SU victory seemed impossible as the fourth quarter wound down against Villanova, but in a game marred by bad decisions, underwhelming individual performances, and boring play calls, the Austin Wilson-led Orange outlasted the Wildcats in double overtime.
A week ago this bye seemed unnecessary and could be a momentum killer. Heading into their first road game of the season, however, the bye week is exactly what the Orange needs right now.
There are plenty of reasons that the team should be thankful for the extra weekend to prepare for Central Michigan. A loss to the Chippewas would sink any real optimism for the season, and have most fans counting down to Midnight Madness before the ACC schedule even started.
CMU is led by senior wide receiver Titus Davis who is actually the NCAA’s active leader in yards per reception. The veteran receiver is the main point of attack for the offense. The talented Syracuse secondary needs to bottle him up, so the defense can get off the field quickly. Davis also returns kicks and punts for CMU.
Central Michigan won the Little Caesars Bowl in 2012 against Western Kentucky. Last season they finished 6-6 and lost to the two ranked teams they faced off against.
The defense’s biggest weakness against Villanova was the dual-threat of quarterback John Robertson, and CMU doesn’t boast as explosive a player taking snaps. The Chippewas play caller, Cooper Rush, went 15-of-26 or 173 yards and two TDs in their first game.
The secondary has improved immensely and should double-cover Davis downfield. Terrel Hunt will not be suspended by the ACC, and will be eligible to play. After last week’s punch and ejection, Hunt has a lot to prove. Is he a true leader? While the CMU defense isn’t stifling, they still only surrendered 256 yards and 16 points in a win against Chatanooga.
CMU plays again this weekend, so the SU coaching staff will have more footage to look at. If the Orange wants to take a step forward this season, they should beat the Chippewas. But if last week taught us anything, though, it’s that nobody can be overlooked.
Posted: Jason Weingold