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Florida State Opponents: Breaking Down Syracuse

Mike McAllister of CuseNation breaks down the Syracuse Orange football team this season.

Syracuse is set to take on Florida State this weekend. The Orange are 3-4 on the season after starting off 3-0 on the season. The Seminoles lead the all-time series 7-1 with the Orange's lone win coming in the first meeting in 1966.

Scouting the Offense

The Syracuse offense is extremely multiple. They run some traditional power-I, some pro-style looks, triple option and west coast offense as well. The Orange like to set up their opponent by running a lot of counters later in the game based on plays they have set up early on. The rushing attack and play action of that is critical to their offensive success. Look for a variety of formations with personnel constantly lining up in different spots.

Projected Starters


Eric Dungey


Jordan Fredericks


Ervin Philips


Steve Ishmael


Brisly Estime


Josh Parris


Ivan Foy


Nick Robinson


Jason Emerich


Rob Trudo


Omari Palmer

Key Players

QB Eric Dungey: Dungey is a playmaking, dual threat quarterback who makes smart decisions with the football, runs the triple option well and can make all of the throws. The Orange offense has been very good with him under center. He is a true freshman, however, and makes mistakes from time to time. Largely this season, they have not resulted in turnovers.

HB Ervin Philips: Maybe Syracuse’s most dynamic offensive weapon, Philips plays h-back in their system. He will line up in the slot, carry the ball as a traditional running back, take it on jet sweeps and be heavily involved in the passing attack. Philips is quick, elusive and a home run threat every time he touches the ball. In his return last week, he racked up 96 total yards and led the team in receiving.

WR Steve Ishmael: Ishmael has made some big plays this season and is Syracuse’s top receiver. He has size, enough speed, runs crisp routes and catches everything thrown his way. Syracuse often targets him in intermediate and deep routes.

RB Jordan Fredericks: The true freshman has risen to the top of the depth chart and will get his first start this week. Fredericks is Syracuse’s most dynamic running back and biggest big-play threat from the position. He is shifty, is quick with his cuts and has great vision.


Syracuse’s offense has become pretty solid all around without any glaring weaknesses, especially with Dungey playing at a high level. The offensive line has been inconsistent, however, showing vulnerability to pressure up the middle. Blitzing has been successful against the Orange this season.


This Syracuse offense has improved dramatically from just a year ago. Dungey looks to be the real deal and the quarterback of the future. Playmakers such as Ervin Philips, Steve Ishmael, Brisly Estime, Jordan Fredericks and others give them a young and talented nucleus.

Scouting the Defense

Syracuse uses a base 4-3 defense, but mixes up their looks frequently. They are masterful at disguising blitzes and bringing players from anywhere on the formation. Linebackers, corners and safeties all blitz at different times. Syracuse also utilizes an Okie package, where a safety comes in for one of the linebackers. This is an aggressive, fast and physical defense.

Projected Starters


Ron Thompson


Kayton Samuels


Chris Slayton


Donnie Simmons


Marqez Hodge


Zaire Franklin


Parris Bennett


Julian Whigham


Rodney Williams


Antwan Cordy


Corey Winfield

Key Players

DE Ron Thompson: Thompson is Syracuse’s best pure pass rusher. He is a force off the edge and can be very disruptive to opposing quarterbacks. He has been arguably Syracuse’s best defensive player in nearly every game this season and opposing teams have really struggled to block him. The strip sack is his specialty.

MLB Zaire Franklin: Franklin is the leader of the Orange defense. He calls the plays, calls out audibles and is a coach on the field. Not only that, but he has great instincts and is a solid run stuffer.

LB Parris Bennett: Bennett might be Syracuse’s best blitzer. He is at his best in the opponent’s backfield. Bennett is skilled at using his body to get by and around blockers.


The Syracuse secondary has struggled in pass coverage all season. They have given up the big play somewhat frequently and are vulnerable against opposing aerial attacks. During the three game losing streak, tackling has been inconsistent as well.


This is a Syracuse defense that prides itself on stopping the run, forcing teams into negative plays and creating turnover opportunities. This season started out very well for this unit, but they have taken a step back over the last two games. Tackling technique has declined and downfield coverage has been subpar.

Scouting the Special Teams

Projected Starters


Cole Murphy


Riley Dixon


Riley Dixon


Matt Keller


Brisly Estime


Brisly Estime

Key Players

KR/PR Brisly Estime: Estime is a dangerous returner who is a threat for the big play any time he touches the ball. He is elusive in the open field, has big time speed and has a knack for finding return lanes.

P Riley Dixon: Arguably the best punter in the ACC, Dixon is skilled at pinning opponents inside their 20-yard line. Combine that with above average kicking power and the ability to make plays on fakes, Dixon has been very good through seven games.

K Cole Murphy: Murphy is inconsistent to say the least. One minute he will drill a 40-plus yard field goal and the next he will miss a chip shot. He has shown the ability to be a reliable kicker, but has been so-so thus far in 2015.

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