Syracuse’s opening matchup against Western Michigan answered a lot of questions. While the third quarter provided a colossal rough patch, the Orange was dominant offensively and showed defensive promise in quarters one, two and four. Throughout the game, a couple players showed they were ready to fill in for graduated players. Here are the three players that made the biggest impact in week one:
It appears SU has found its next All-American caliber receiver. Custis has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, which is why some Orange fans may not have known his name last Friday. Custis was the lone Orange wide receiver to catch a pass. Just let that sink in quickly. An offense that spreads the ball around and throws as much as it does only completed ONE pass to a wide receiver. Custis and Eric Dungey hooked up for two touchdowns, but it easily could have been four. The redshirt senior showed off his athleticism by beating defenses with speed and making one-handed catches. Dungey said he didn’t know who would emerge as the pass-catcher, just that someone would. He found his answer on Friday.
Cisco was slated to be a starter before the Orange announced it would start in a 4-3 defense. However, the flow of the game shifted early and we saw a lot of nickel packages from the Syracuse defense. That slotted the freshman into the game and he got his first career pick. There was a lot of preseason hype from his peers about what Cisco could do on the field, and the safety showed that the future in the secondary is bright.
While the defense has been heavily criticized for its third quarter defense (and rightfully so), there was more good than bad that should be taken away. Whitner was certainly one of those pieces. He had an interception, but more importantly, he plugged up holes in a hurry. In fact, Whitner’s dominance and versatility was a big reason why the Broncos had to change their game plan, which in turn led to the WMU aerial success. Whitner’s been asked to replace the Orange’s best defensive player in recent memory in Zaire Franklin, but week one showed he may be capable of just that.
BONUS: Andre Szmyt
I know I said three, but this is too good to pass up. Szmyt came out of nowhere and did everything he was asked to. He knocked through a 43-yarder and a 26-yard chip shot along with extra point after extra point. There was a lot of worry as to who would be the next kicker in line, but Szmyt passed an early outdoor test, which should bode well when he moves indoors.