After starting 2-0 Syracuse lost four straight games from September 20th to October 11th and many fans wondered if this year would become a lost season. Quarterback Terrel Hunt broke his leg in a 28-6 loss to Louisville during the stretch and two days later Scott Schafer took away George McDonald’s play calling duties. The season had hit a clear low point.
To its credit, Syracuse has bounced back well. With an encouraging performance the week after the Louisville debacle against Florida State (38-20 loss) and a 30-7 demolition of Wake Forest last Saturday; the Orange may be able to salvage something from this season. A win tonight at Death Valleywould not only give Scott Shafer his first upset as SU’s head coach, it would also put Syracuse in a good position to reach a bowl game. A loss means the Orange would have to win three of its last four games to become bowl eligible, an extremely tough task.
A 14.5-point spread means Syracuse is a serious underdog, but SU has shown the last few weeks that it is now a tough team to blow out and should keep this game relatively close. A strong performance from quarterback AJ Long may even put Syracuse in a position to win.
In the two games Long has started in place of Hunt, the true freshman has played well with limited receiving options (16/27 against FSU with two TD’s and two picks, 22/32 against Wake with a rushing TD). Wide outs Ashton Broyld and Brisley Estime are set to return from injury tonight and will give Long two more reliable targets.
The true freshman QB said this week that he plans to give himself 2.5 seconds between catching the snap and throwing the ball against the third ranked defense in the ACC (total yardage). Having Broyld and Estime will certainly help with Long’s quick release.
Long has never played in a place like Memorial Stadium and this could cause problems for the Orange, but from what he’s shown so far he will be up for the challenge.
POSTED: Connor Morrissette