Kickoff Countdown: Can Syracuse take advantage of the USF defense?

In the days leading up to each SU football game, The Juice Online will address questions about the team in “Kickoff Countdown.” Today’s question: Can Syracuse take advantage of a statistically weak USF defense?

smithrun2

Smith carved up the UConn defense

The Syracuse offense, at least on paper, seems to be set for a prolific week against USF.

At first glance, USF’s defensive metrics aren’t particularly bad. They’re 68th in the NCAA in defense with 27.4 points per game, and allowing a respectable 389.7 yards per game. They’re also ranked 72nd in rushing defense and 59th in passing defense.

» Related: Can Syracuse contain BJ Daniels?

But a closer examination by the USF blog Voodoo Five told a more concerning (or in the case of SU fans, exciting) story.

“[A]gainst FBS competition, USF is allowing 429.5 yards per game. That’s 183.3 yards rushing and 246.2 yards passing, almost 30 points per game, and a dismal 5.95 yards per play. They have a total of six sacks and four turnovers forced in those six games, and of course no interceptions.”

It presents a good opportunity for Syracuse, who comes into the game 15th in the NCAA in passing yards and is coming off one of its best games on the ground (though the SU running game is only 82nd in the NCAA at 145.1 yards per game).

The Orange rushed for 251 yards against Connecticut, led by Jerome Smith’s career high 133 yards.

The passing game was good, as well.

QB Ryan Nassib, who had five interceptions over a three game span including Minnesota, Pitt and Rutgers, took care of the ball against Connecticut. He directed an offense that put up 40 points on the board, while throwing for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions.

» Related: Can special teams shine again?

Another interesting statistic from USF: The defense has exactly zero interceptions this season.

Of course, as the saying goes, games are not played on paper, and USF has had a lot of success against the Orange since joining the Big East. That includes a 37-17 drubbing at the Carrier Dome last year.

So what will happen with Syracuse plays the game on the field?

Can Syracuse’s offense have success against USF’s defense? Voice your opinions below or Tweet us your opinions!

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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