Through three games, everything has gone according to plan for Dino Babers and company. The Orange is 3-0 for the first time under the head coach, every game has been won in convincing fashion and we’ve seen nothing but “owies” on the field health-wise.
Now, a much inferior UConn comes into the Dome fresh off their way too close win against Rhode Island. In that 56-49 shootout, the Huskies allowed 550 yards of offense to the Rams, an FCS team. In fact, those 49 points are the fewest UConn has allowed all season. Progress, I guess?
Regardless, this Huskies team leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, both their losses came against ranked teams, but allowing 56 and 62 points in those games doesn’t scream moral victories. That being said, Syracuse can’t let last week’s win and receiving votes in the AP Poll create an arrogance in the locker room. Here is what we need to see out of the Orange this weekend:
Dominate on the Ground
To the surprise of some, Moe Neal seems to have taken over the role as the primary back. Last week, Dontae Strickland didn’t get his first carry until the third Orange drive. However, Strickland’s also found success by breaking off big runs from time to time as well as near the goal line. His five touchdowns scored leads the team. But now a new wrinkle is in the mix with Jarveon Howard. The true freshman made a name for himself last week with 55 yards on the ground on just 5 carries. Babers seems to like what he sees in his new running back and this week could call for a lot of Howard if the Orange gets out to a big lead. UConn struggles defensively in all aspects. But exploiting the ground would be good for the backs’ confidences, albeit at the cost of #DungeyForHeisman.
Syracuse still hasn’t suffered a major injury *knocks on wood.* Against a team like UConn, you cannot afford to be careless with your players. The Orange’s backups have looked more than capable of stepping up in big moments all season. Syracuse has the rest of ACC play right around the corner and it all starts with Clemson next Saturday. The Orange is definitely getting the Tigers’ best shot as they seek revenge from last season, so having everyone at as close to 100 percent as possible is essential.
This was Stephen A. Smith’s mantra for SU this season. Now, you may think points two and three are contradictory of each other, but I’ll beg to differ. You can keep your foot on the gas and also play smart with your personnel. Eric Dungey has said that he wants to annihilate opponents this season. Quite frankly, I would attribute that to why the Orange received votes. Syracuse absolutely dominated Florida State last week. While the Seminoles aren’t the team they once were, FSU is still a national brand. That was enough to catch the eye of at least one voter. Syracuse has annihilated every opponent so far and has yet to trail this season. The Orange needs to keep that momentum rolling by scoring upwards of 60 points this week.