As we countdown to kickoff in August, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Tuesday over the summer. SU will open its 2014 campaign when they host Villanova on Aug. 29.
ACCURATE PREDICTOR?: Villanova hopes that one harbinger in particular is true this year. During last year’s spring practice, defensive back Cameron McCurry was named the Most Improved Player after spring practice. McCurry went on to finish the 2013 season as one of the team’s prolific players, finishing fourth on the Wildcats with 60 tackles and four interceptions. This year, linebacker Austin Calitro and offensive lineman Nico D’Angelo received the award. While Calitro is part of a deep linebacker core, D’Angelo’s award perhaps more significant because Villanova graduated three players from its offensive line. Head coach Andy Talley is hoping that D’Angelo can be part of a talented, but inexperienced, unit that keeps the spread option system humming for dual-threat quarterback John Robertson. The junior playcaller was a second team All-CAA selection last year, throwing for 1,957 yards and rushing for another 1,405.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Wide receiver Poppy Livers was named an offensive team captain, and for good reason. After collecting just 215 yards in his sophomore season, Livers had a breakout junior campaign, leading the team with 53 receptions and 580 receiving yards to go along with three touchdowns. Linebacker Don Cherry was named a second-team All-CAA performer last year, and led the defense with 99 tackles.
PREDICTION: Syracuse breezed past Football Championship Subdivision opponent Wagner last season, 54-0. While the numbers won’t be as gaudy, expect a relatively stress-free opener. SYRACUSE 42, VILLANOVA 14.