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SU Football’s Bye-Week To-Do List

1. Get Healthy

This has become a bye-week cliché in football, but it’s especially true for Syracuse this year. While the Orange have been elusive in avoiding the injury bug compared to last year, there are still a lot of bumps and bruises that need to heal in order for SU to continue playing their best football of the season. It’s no secret that this is a late week off. The Orange last took a week off in November of 2014, but they also had a week two bye to offset the burden. This year, there is no such luxury. Chris Elmore was in a sling last weekend against Boston College. Trebor Peña missed the game as well. Meanwhile, two offensive line starters are down. Those guys need to get back for the Orange to make a bowl game push.

2. Rediscover the Pass

Garrett Shrader’s bread and butter is the run game. That’s alright, but too much of a good thing could be a bad thing. The sophomore has 13 touchdowns with his legs alone. If that escapes him, the offense is stale. Shrader notched just 65 yards passing against Boston College. Sure, Taj Harris entering the transfer portal doesn’t help, but Shrader proved himself as a worthy passer when he went for 236 yards against Virginia Tech and threw his first career game winning touchdown pass. He can do it. The question is can he do it when the Orange need him to regularly or is he just relying on Sean Tucker to have another career day.

3. Iron Out Special Teams

Andre Szmyt admitted earlier this year that he is not at the level he was in 2018. The former Lou Groza Award winner is just 7/12 on field goals this year. The longest one he’s hit is 48 yards. Szmyt missed two all of last year. The misses have come at inopportune times, which only amplify the problem. Then there’s the issue of punting, which took a huge step back from last year when Sterling Hofrichter was flipping fields routinely. Williams is the only punter in the ACC with fewer than 40 yards per boot. A punt return house call helped last week, but if SU continues to lose special teams then the bowl birth will be hard to come by.

4. Watch Liberty/Virginia Tech Film

The defense was unbelievable last week, holding their opponent to six points for the first time since 2019. The main question heading into the bye and then Louisville is which defense will show up. The Cardinals are lead by one of the best dual-threat signal callers in the nation. Malik Cunningham is the team’s leading passer and rusher. Liberty has a QB that might be even more crucial to their offense, and Syracuse limited Malik Willis to fewer than 50 yards on the ground for the first time all year. Braxton Burmeister from Virginia Tech was similarly held in check. Florida State’s Jordan Travis, on the other hand, ran for 113 yards on SU in the narrow win for the Seminoles. The bye week gives the Orange more time to watch film and figure out how the defense will respond to a mobile QB this time around.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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