Syracuse has started the season 2-0 for the first time since 2018, and we chatted with former Syracuse and NFL linebacker Rich Scanlon this week on The Juice on the Cuse Podcast, presented by SNY.tv, to get his take on SU’s hot start.
“I’ve seen a ton of consistency,” Scanlon said. “They’ve been rock solid. They won a very good game at home against a good opponent (Louisville), and they did what they needed to do against Connecticut.”
Syracuse won by comfortable margins in both games, defeating the Cardinals 31-7 and the Huskies 48-14.
That’s in no small part due to a stingy defense, which held Louisville to 334 yards and UConn to 202.
“This year, it looks like all of the (defensive) units are playing with a lot more cohesion,” Scanlon said. “They have a lot of leadership on the team. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do, and it’s an exciting time.”
Scanlon played at Syracuse from 2000-03, and was named an All-Big East linebacker in 2003. He went on to have a five year career in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans and New York Giants.
Based on what he’s seen from SU linebackers Marlowe Wax and Mikel Jones, Scanlon believes both will be following in his footsteps.
“I think they will (play in the NFL),” Scanlon said. “It’s just fun to watch those guys play.”
The same could be said of the offense, which has had a renaissance year under new offensive coordinator Robert Anae. Syracuse has scored 79 points through two games, and quarterback Garrett Shrader was named one of the Davey O’Brien Great 8 Performers of the Week after his stellar 20-of-23 passing day against UConn.
Shrader’s .870 completion percentage is the third-highest total in the FBS this season, and he’s now on the Davey O’Brien Award Midseason Watch List, awarded to the nation’s most outstanding quarterback.
» Related: Syracuse routs UConn 48-14 on the road
“The team has been his for a full year,” Scanlon said. “Obviously the new OC and the new offensive coaches that we’ve brought in have been helpful. The play calling has been really, really good and putting him in good spots. And I think he worked his ass off in the offseason.”
That has led Scanlon to have lofty goals for the Orange.
“I’m very optimistic,” Scanlon said. “It’s tough to sustain over a full season, but in looking at the schedule and how they played the first two games, they have an opportunity to be in every game. I don’t know if I could’ve said that two games in in the past few years.”
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