As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Wednesday over the summer. SU will continue its Big East schedule against Connecticut at the Carrier Dome on Friday, Oct. 19 at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN.
QUARTERBACK PLAY: Last year, UConn was last in the Big East in passing yards per game. The Huskies had by far the fewest completions among all eight Big East teams. And their starting quarterback from last year who produced those numbers – Johnny McEntee – is returning. So what does that mean? Well, it can mean one of a few things. McEntee could start again and greatly improve with another year having been under his belt, or the Huskies could get much of the same. If the coaches aren’t feeling McEntee, they can look to junior college transfer Chandler Whitmer as a potential option at QB. Whoever starts will have a big target in the 6-5 tight end Ryan Griffin, the team’s leading returning receiver.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: It seems obvious, but running back Lyle McCombs could really make a difference in whether the Huskies win or lose. The defense, despite losing Kendall Reyes to the NFL, is in decent shape. It’s the offense that struggles. As a freshman taking the place of the departed Jordan Todman last year, McCombs rushed for 1,151 yards. And with the passing game uncertain, McCombs will need to be a constant in the Husky offense. And he should produce.
PREDICTION: The Orange is generally known for its defense and not its offense. And UConn doesn’t have the best offense in the game, so Syracuse has a decent shot here. But at the same time, SU can never seem to beat Connecticut. This may be the first time in a few years it breaks through. SU quarterback Ryan Nassib is back for his third straight year as the starting quarterback. UConn doesn’t appear to be any better than the Orange. That being said, Syracuse’s seniors will finally get that win against the Huskies in a low-scoring affair. 17-10 SU.Rachel Marcus (Follow on Twitter @racmar)