Syracuse Orange v. Connecticut Huskies Prediction & Preview (9/10/22)

Jarveon Howard
Syracuse running back Jarveon Howard breaks free during Syracuse's 51-21 win over UCONN. Mandatory Photo Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

After a wild week one in which Syracuse defied all expectations and blew out the Louisville, 31-7, the focus shifts this week to a match up that should test the legitimacy of this new-look Syracuse team as they travel to Storrs, Connecticut to take on the UConn Huskies.

  • Teams: Syracuse Orange (1-0, 1-0 ACC) v. Connecticut Huskies (1-1)
  • Date: Saturday, Sept. 10
  • Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Rentschler Field
  • Network: CBS Sports Network

RutgerRutger Sears
Fearless Prediction: Syracuse 40, Connecticut 14
The Juice Online Season Record: 1-0

All indications are that SU should easily handle this game, as UConn football has just 11 wins in the past seven years. Hope springs eternal though, and the hiring of former NFL coach Jim Mora has Husky fans faithful that a competent rebuild will have their team competitive in a few years time.

UConn is currently 1-1 after easily beating in-state FCS team Central Connecticut State 28-3 last week. In fairness, they looked good while doing it but the level of competition has to be factored here. Let’s take a look at what to watch for this upcoming Saturday.

IS THIS SHRADER FOR REAL?

By far the biggest story to come out of the Louisville game was just how improved Garrett Shrader looked as a passer. After posting completion percentages of 57.5% in 2019 and 52.6% in 2021 (Shrader did not play in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic), Shrader came out last week and ripped off 72.0% on 25 attempts. His receivers also had at least three bad drops that hit them square in the hands in wide open field, so we’re talking about a potential 21-for-25 game from Shrader.

It wasn’t just the stat line. It was how he got there. All night, he was decisive with his throws, getting the ball out quick to the right guy with much improved accuracy on nearly every attempt. There was no nervous scrambling to his right to launch an incompletion down field, no “too amped up” throws over guys heads to begin the game. He came out locked in and played a nearly perfect game from the first snap to the last.

If that’s the guy they’re getting for the rest of the year, the ceiling for this team far exceeds what it’s been for at least the last few years.

NATHAN CARTER NEEDS ANOTHER BIG GAME FOR UCONN

The Huskies running back went off for 190 yards on 20 carries in UConn’s first game of the year, a loss to the Utah State Aggies. He followed it up last week with 23 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown in the win over Central Connecticut State. He appears to be the engine for Jim Mora’s offense and as such will need another big performance if they have any shot to pull off the home upset of Syracuse.

Quarterback Zion Turner has been serviceable for the Huskies but is only completing about 50% of his passes. You can’t imagine the game plan is for him to constantly be testing SU’s All-American cornerback duo of Duce Chestnut and Garrett Williams. Carter will not only need to be explosive, but efficient. His team can’t afford to be behind the chains often in this contest.

Whether he’ll have success in that area leads me to the third situation I’m monitoring in this game, and it’s a big one.

» Related: Ex-Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni back in NFL

CAN SU’S DEFENSIVE LINE KEEP UP THE STELLAR PLAY?

There was a bit of a surprise for most SU fans going into last week’s game- redshirt sophomore Steve Linton was nowhere to be found on the depth chart. Linton was widely expected to have one of the defensive end spots locked up due to his experience on such a green defensive line that lost multiple starters to the NFL.

That wasn’t the case, and in his place was redshirt freshman Jatius Geer. The move was made all the more curious by the fact that Geer didn’t record a tackle, while Linton looked like an unstoppable force racking up six total tackles, two tackles-for-loss, one sack, and a forced fumble, going so far as to recover his own forced fumble ala Jadevon Clowney in the 2013 Outback Bowl.

Terry Lockett played well also, and overall the defensive line really had no issues handling a pretty tough and experienced Louisville front that’s had consistency for a couple of years now. I do have to wonder if they can keep it up going forward, and a team like UConn is the perfect test. While they have size on the offensive line as well, the expectation is stellar play from Syracuse and they should dominate.

UConn will want to run the ball, and spread it around when they do throw it evidenced by 10 different receivers catching a pass in their last game. To put it bluntly, I have no worries about Syracuse being able to dominate this team in all three phases. Shrader is looking improved and confident in a creative new offense and the defense is living up to their billing as a top 20 defense last year.

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About Rutger Sears 99 Articles
Rutger is a freelance writer and as a Syracuse native, has an affinity for all Syracuse University Athletics. From Donovan McNabb to Mike Powell, Rutger has seen greatness in many forms don an Orange uniform over the last 30 years. He covers all Syracuse athletics with a particular emphasis on football and recruiting.