With Clemson next up on the schedule, it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better for Syracuse football. But after a 38-21 loss to Liberty in the Carrier Dome last Saturday, Josh Black remained positive about facing the top-ranked Tigers.
“At the end of the day, Clemson’s a great football team, but you know they’re football players just like us,” Black said. “Whoever competes the best on that Saturday will get the win.”
Black also mentioned the progress of sophomore linebacker Mikel Jones. According to Black, Jones is always around the facility watching film on his Ipad. So far this season, Jones is tied with Geoff Cantin-Arku (another sophomore linebacker) with 37 tackles for tops on the team. Jones also has three interceptions, a pass breakup and a couple of fumble recoveries.
Injuries Leading to Player Development
Syracuse’s injuries have led to a couple of developing freshmen, Ja’Had Carter and Rob Hanna. Black mentioned that he didn’t expect to play his first-year at Syracuse, but was forced to step up after older players were injured.
“From a development standpoint, that whole year what kind of made me who I am today,” Black said. “The rest of my team is counting on me to get the job done. And that’s how these younger guys are feeling right now, and you can see the way they approach practice meetings. They’re very mature for their age, and they’re handling it extremely well.”
Heading Down to Death Valley
Not much good happens in Death Valley for opposing teams. Clemson’s defense is giving up just 12 points a game, and its offense is stocked with future top NFL pick Trevor Lawrence, and elite running back Travis Etienne. But Airon Servais reminded everyone that this isn’t the first time the Orange were predicted to be in for a long night.
“We’ve been underdogs before and we’ve been able to win this game in the past,” Servais said. “We’re excited for the challenge coming up this week and we’re definitely no stranger to be the underdog. So we’re just going to attack this week with a lot of effort, a lot of energy.”
At 1-4, Syracuse needs to rely on the few veterans it still has standing throughout the injuries. Besides the vets, the young guys can use these opportunities, against elite competition, to continue to develop.