Certain players circle certain games on the schedule for a variety of reasons. Beckett Wales circled Syracuse's visit to South Florida. He can't wait to play in front of family and friends in his home state. But as the Orange prepare to stay consistent against the Bulls, he is ready for the challenge.
"It's kind of a week by week deal," Wales said. "Depending on what the defense is doing. Coach (Nathaniel) Hackett and Coach (Doug) Marrone install the plays and put them in there for us. We run them in practice. If they look good in practice and we succeed in running the play, then he'll put them in the game. That's pretty much how it is. UConn just gave us the opportunity to run these great plays, and Ryan just happened to throw it where I was."
In order to fully round out his game, Wales has spent a lot of time working on his run blocking. That work has paid off as it has gotten better each week.
"Coach Hackett and I, and Coach Marrone, have been putting a lot of emphasis on my run blocking," Wales explained. "Obviously they have a lot of confidence in me in my pass game. They told me I needed to practice on my run blocking. That's something that I've keyed on in the past couple of weeks. Each week I try to get better and better. Obviously, it's paying off a little bit."
Against Connecticut, Wales found the endzone for the first time in college career. It was a great feeling for him, and one he hopes he gets to experience again.
"It's real fun, it's real fun," Wales declared. "It's been three years since I've been there, since my senior year in high school. It was very emotional to get in there and hopefully I get back there again."
Wales was able to score out of the tank package, when Syracuse utilized play-action for the first time this season in that package. Whether or not the Orange continue to pass out of it is anyone's guess.
"It opens more windows, you know what I'm saying?" Wales stated. "I don't know if we're going to see it right away. Due to the fact that for scheme purposes, against the other teams or whatever, obviously they're going to look for that now. It might come up later. I don't know. We haven't practiced that yet for this week. So I don't know.
"Absolutely (they caught UConn off guard with play-action). Because it was the first time we've done that. The first time we showed a pass this year out of it, out of that formation. Wouldn't you be caught off guard? So I think we did."
The offense had struggles before the UConn game. Now that they've had a solid performance, they are looking to continue that this week.
"It goes back to Coach Hackett," Wales said. "He's putting in the plays and tempo. We have to keep a high tempo. With the offense we run, the no-huddle, the sugar huddle, it's the tempo to keep the defense on their heels. The hands on their hips to show that they're tired. That's when we just pick it up more. It's pretty much a tempo thing."
While the Syracuse team is traveling to Florida, many players are heading back to their home state. Beckett Wales is among them, and he's excited about being able to play in front of family and friends.
"Yeah, it's going to be exciting," he said. "It's the first time going back since my freshman year. I was able to play a little bit that game. It gives you a little bit of extra motivation and urgency to play in front of your family and friends.
"I've got to get 12 tickets but I think I'm going to have about 15 family and friends there. So, it'll be fun."
Despite the excitement of going back, don't expect a special celebration should Wales find the endzone for a second consecutive week.
"No, nothing that's going to cost us 15-yards," he said with a smile.