As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Wednesday over the summer. SU wiill open its 2015 season when they play Rhode Island on Sept. 4.
ROUGH FIRST SEASON: Rhode Island head coach Jim Fleming had a tough first season leading the Rams. The team went 1-11, winning its final game of the season against Towson, which snapped a 15-game losing streak for the team. If you were looking for offense, there wasn’t much of it, as the Rams scored more than 14 points just twice all year. Part of that was due to Rhode Island losing quarterback Mack Lowrie midway through the year to a shoulder injury. His replacement, James Caparell, struggled in the team’s final six games, as he threw just one touchdown to eight interceptions. A bright spot for the team happened after the season, with three-time CAA Football All-Conference linebacker Andrew Bose getting signed by the Baltimore Ravens.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: There is an open quarterback competition for the 2015 season, but Lowrie appears to have the upper hand, having taken snaps with the first team throughout spring practice. That being said, both played well in URI’s spring game, as Lowrie was 12-of-20 for 129 yards and one touchdown, while James Caparell was 15-of-26 for 157 yards. True freshman Jordan Vezzano also got some playing time, and was 8-for-20 for 92 yards and a touchdown. On defense, the Rams lost Bose, but still have junior LB Adam Parker, who racked up six tackles in the spring game. Another intriguing player in the linebacker core includes Khilyni Kennedy, who moved over from defensive end. He led all defensive players with 10 tackles in the spring game. They’ll need a huge improvement on the 34.1 points per game the unit allowed last year.
PREDICTION: Syracuse should have no problems with the Rams, but then again, many people said the same thing about Villanova last year. Expect plenty of rust in the opening half from both teams before the Orange pulls away in the second half. SYRACUSE 31, RHODE ISLAND 14.