From 3-0, to 3-3. It has been a tough month for the Orange, dealing with the injury to their new starting quarterback and being dealt three straight loses. Obviously something has to change if Syracuse wants to get their season back on track against the now-ranked Pitt Panthers. Recently, the offense has been carrying the team as the defense struggles but changes need to be made on both sides of the ball.
Let’s start with the defense. To be blunt, the whole unit has to be better. They need to get to the quarterback quicker and more often and the secondary needs to find a way to prevent the big play. The secondary may prove to be a deciding factor in the matchup this weekend.
Tyler Boyd has been an offense unto himself for the Pitt Panthers over the last couple of seasons. Last year, the receiver racked up over 1,200 receiving yards hauling in eight touchdowns. This year, Boyd has taken a small step back as he has around 400 yards and four TDs through six games.
The point is that the Orange will have their hands full with a wide-out as skilled as Boyd. The Orange need to get to quarterback Nathan Peterman early and often to disrupt his timing with his favorite target.
Now for the offense. Yes, they have put up points with Eric Dungey at the helm, but there is certainly room for improvement. Dungey has –has should have been expected– made some freshmen mistakes which could cause problems later in his career. The offense needs to get on the board quicker. The past two games the Orange have been held off the scoreboard in the first quarter.
Getting early points takes some pressure off of the defense and puts that pressure right back on the other team. This does not just fall on the players. The Orange had a fourth and goal from the one against UVA and Shafer elected to go for it. Lester called a pitch play and the Orange came up empty handed.
The Orange should not pass up on easy points. If Shafer kicks the field goal, the Orange have the early lead which takes some pressure off both the offense and defense. If a similar opportunity presents itself against Pitt, the Orange need to take the easy points and grab the lead.
Syracuse will not be the favorite in the Dome on Saturday but they certainly have a chance for a homecoming weekend win.