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Lots of questions remain after summer
Each year at the end of summer, people are met with sadness and intrigue. SU’s first game begins tomorrow, and it’s against Northwestern. Read along as I give a fan’s perspective on the game, and my prediction.
Under Pat Fitzgerald, who hasn’t lost a season opener under its coach (6-0), the Wildcats have been guided from obscurity to become a worthy opponent. After five consecutive bowl games, Fitzgerald and company look to start the season off with a bang, but not if Syracuse has anything to say about that.
Many questions are lingering in people’s minds: Is our secondary outlook good? Can the Orange defense contain mobile quarterbacks? Can the offense move the chains and produce much needed points?
I’m sure no one can answer these questions definitively, but I’ll take my best shot!
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Offensively, look for Nassib to pick apart Northwestern’s defense, as they’ve had to replace five starters on defense. The receiver position is a concern with Alec Lemon battling through a lower body injury, and Marcus Sales returning, after not playing last year due to legal woes. If Lemon is a no-go, Jarrod West would seek to replicate Alec’s production as their possession receiver. Are there any legitimate deep threats? As of now, Sales is the Syracuse’s lone deep threat, but Jeremiah Kobena will look to show the Wildcats his ‘after burners.’ Also keep an eye on Christopher Clark, whose speed and catching abilities could help him earn playing time.
Who will emerge as SU’s primary back? TBD since training camp is usually closed to the public. Having a primary back is a great luxury, but having depth at this position is a tremendous asset. The SU backfield consists of Jerome Smith, who has inherited the starting position, with PTG as his backup. I also expect Broyld & Morris to excite SU’s fanbase with their style, speed and toughness.
Defensively, last year it seemed many Orange athletes tried to do too much, and because of this, big play after big play was awarded to the opposition. Look for this to change with Marquis Spruill returning to his more natural position. Siriki Diabate will move into the starting lineup, at the MLB position, and will look to setting the tone for the defense, as their newly christened leader.
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Preventing big plays will be SU’s primary concern, while tackling has become something of an enigma since the dreaded G-Rob days. Many believe, and myself included, that our secondary could be the best it has been in a long time. Trying to slow down the Spread Offense is no easy task, but with an improving and speedy Reddish to go along with Thomas & Wilkes, the football could be ripe for the taking.
Keys to victory:
Protect the QB – Last season Nassib was sacked a whopping 29 times. This will have to chance if Syracuse wants to produce points, and control the clock.
Prevent the ‘Big Play’ – SU allowed an unbelievable 16 touchdowns on runs of at least 20 yards, and passes of at least 25 yards.
Exploit the defense’s inexperience: The Wildcats last year had one of the most experienced group of players in the Big Ten. However, on defense, they must replace three starting defensive backs, and two starting linebackers.
Contain Kain Colter: He is very fast and accurate. He returns as the team leader in many categories, and is a converted RB.
Prediction: Syracuse 34 – Northwestern 21
Chat along with other CuseNation fans under the hash tag: #BeatNorthwestern
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