SU is back to work in the Dome and welcoming in Virginia for the first time since 2005 in an ACC crossover clash. Any game means another sheet of keys as to how Syracuse can earn a victory. Before we dive into UVA, let’s look back on our keys to beating Purdue.
1. Lock Down Charlie Jones
For a while this key was in the ignition. Jones wasn’t much of a factor for the first three quarters but popped off in the fourth and burned Garrett Williams for a long touchdown. SU really had no answers for him on the outside all day. “Chuck Sizzle” caught eleven passes for 188 yards and a 55-yard touchdown. Still, SU found a way to pull out this win with its offense.
2. Make Plays One-on-One
Check that box. Syracuse won this shootout with Oronde Gadsden II’s go-ahead score after he burned his defender one-on-one downfield. On top of that, Isaiah Jones reeled in his first career touchdown in a jumpball situation in the corner of the end zone. So there were plays to be made against Purdue, and Syracuse made just enough of those plays to win.
3. Put Purdue Behind Schedule
Syracuse definitely had Purdue in third and medium, third and long situations quite often. However, the Boilermakers were spectacular in conversion situations. Purdue was successful on 10 of its 17 opportunities to move the sticks and really took the Dome crowd out of the equation early. The Boilermakers had ten different situations when the down and distance was 3rd and 5 or more yards and more often than not, the sticks were moved.
1. Sean Tucker Averages over 5 yards Per Carry
The Doak Walker Watch Lister was held to pretty much nothing against Purdue. The Boilermakers made it their defensive mission to load up the box and clog up any holes for #34. The problems extend beyond last weekend’s game too. Tucker’s longest carry was a 13-yarder in the season opener against Louisville. Additionally, the All-American is averaging under four yards a pop.
SU needs to establish its ground game again to make the pass even more dangerous. The Orange should have a chance to do that against a UVA defense that ranks 10th out of 14 teams in rushing defense. The Wahoos allow over 150 yards per game and surrendered about 200 two weeks ago against Illinois. Tucker’s Heisman campaign took a ding last week but is far from a foregone conclusion.
2. Bend Don’t Break Defense
Syracuse had some key stops against Purdue last week and forced some drives to end in field goal attempts. SU will need a similarly strong performance inside the 20’s to make things easier on itself this week. UVA has scored on just 63% of its journey’s to an opponents red zone and has only found pay dirt four times in eleven trips. If the Orange can hold the Cavaliers to field goals or even turn them over, this game could get out of hand quickly.
3. Get Pressure on Armstrong
The ‘Cuse defense, otherwise known as “the mob,” has been dialing up the blitzes all season long. Mikel Jones has received grades from PFF as the nation’s highest-rated rushing linebacker. Additionally, Syracuse has seen an increased level of play from guys like Steve Linton and Caleb Okechukwu. Now, can the Orange turn up the heat some more and give an offensive line with five brand new starters some fits?
Virginia has given up the fourth-most sacks in the ACC ranking tied for tenth out of 14 teams. The Cavs have seen their quarterback in the dirt right different times. Now, conversely Syracuse hasn’t really gotten home that much this year. SU is slotted in 12th place in the conference with just six sacks so far this season. If the Orange can wreak some havoc in UVA’s backfield, it’ll force the Cavs into 3rd downs which they convert on just 32% of the time (13th in ACC). It will also perhaps force Brennan Armstrong into some poor decisions. The south paw QB has thrown the second most picks in the conference and is still adjusting to a new offensive system.
Be sure to check out our predictions for this Friday night clash and enjoy the game!