Matchup Preview: Syracuse at Wake Forest

Scout.com breaks down the Syracuse/Wake Forest matchup by analyzing the battles in each area of the field. Complete matchup preview inside.

Syracuse hits the road for the time in conference play as they the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a battle of 2-4 squads.

Syracuse quarterback/receivers/tight ends vs. Wake Forest secondary

A.J. Long gave Syracuse fans some hope that the offense can turn the corner and be productive with Terrel Hunt on the mend. Steve Ishmael emerged as a top option, which is critical with Brisly Estime and Ashton Broyld still out. Now the true freshman has to prove he can develop some consistency, this time on the road.

Wake Forest isn’t Florida State, and the Orange put up over 400-yards of offense against the defending champs. But the Demon Deacons do have a solid defense. Their two corners, Merrill Noel and Kevin Johnson are both NFL prospects and will test Syracuse’s rookie signal caller.

Look for Wake to disguise their coverages a bit and throw some different looks at Long to confuse him and the Orange passing attack.
Edge: Wake Forest

Syracuse running backs vs. Wake Forest linebackers

The key to Syracuse’s offensive attack on Saturday may be how well they run the ball. Wake has a solid linebacking corps that fills gaps well, but they have only been average against the run this season. The Demon Deacons are giving up 4.1 yards per carry this season and over 170-yards per game overall.

Syracuse, on the other hand, picks up 5.2 yards per tote while grinding out over 190-yards each game. Prince-Tyson Gulley was a clear focus last week and should be again in this one. His ability to make quick cuts between the tackles will pose a problem for Wake.

Adonis Ameen-Moore could also have a big role in this one, helping to wear down the Decs front seven. Add in Ervin Philips as a change of pace and the Orange ground attack will have maybe its best game in several weeks.

Linebackers Brandon Chubb and Marquel Lee are two players to monitor from the Wake side of things.
Edge: Syracuse

Syracuse offensive line vs. Wake Forest defensive line

Defensive tackles Taylor Harris and Josh Banks have had a difficult task this season, filling in for Nikita Whitlock who was one of the best in the conference for the last few years. They have been solid this season, helping to plug up holes in the interior running game.

Despite that, opposing offensive units have had success on the ground. Wake has been good at getting to the quarterback, nothing 16 sacks in six games this season.

The Orange offensive line has been improving each week. They are one of the best in the country at protecting the quarterback, allowing only four on the season. That is tied for third in the nation with Duke and Wisconsin.

Syracuse is without Ivan Foy in this one, but Omari Palmer has done a nice job filling in at right tackle. Center John Miller is questionable. If he can’t go, Syracuse may elect to go with Rob Trudo at center and bring in Michael Lasker to play tackle while sliding Palmer back to his natural guard position.

This one should be an even matchup early, but Syracuse will wear down the Wake front seven.
Edge: Syracuse

Wake Forest quarterback/receivers/tight ends vs. Syracuse secondary

The Wake Forest passing attack is their best bet to move the ball, but that isn’t saying much. True freshman quarterback John Wolford has 11 interceptions to just six touchdown tosses. Receivers Jonathan Williams and Jared Crump have been unspectacular. Neither has big time speed, although Crump does have good size.

Tight end Cam Serigne is their top target and will test Syracuse in the intermediate passing game.

The Orange secondary has struggled to find consistency this season and has been prone to giving up the big play. This week, they have a very favorable matchup. Even while giving up big plays, they have been able to force turnovers throughout the season.

Holding onto interception opportunities has been a problem, but this could be a game where Brandon Reddish and Julian Whigham shut down the opposing receivers. Safety Durell Eskridge could be poised for a big game as well.
Edge: Syracuse

Wake Forest running backs vs. Syracuse linebackers

Syracuse has the 47th best run defense in the country entering this one, and that should only go up after facing the nation’s worst ground attack. Even without an emerging Wayne Williams, and with Eric Crume questionable, Syracuse should have enough to shut down Wake Forest.

Wake is one of only two teams in the country averaging less than two yards per carry, coming at 1.04. That is last in the FBS college football. They have rushed for 186-yards on 179 carries, also worst in the nation.

While part of those statistics is due to the NCAA recognizing sacks as negative rushing yards, both of Wake’s top two rushers are averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry. The Orange should have a huge advantage in this one.

Marqez Hodge, a good downhill linebacker who is a hard hitter, could have a solid game in this one filling the gaps. Outside backers Cameron Lynch and Dyshawn Davis should have success getting into the Wake backfield.
Edge: Syracuse

Wake Forest offensive line vs. Syracuse defensive line

Wake’s offensive line is young, inexperienced and has given up 24 sacks in six games, good for 119th in the country. Center A’lique Terry, a former Syracuse recruit and high school teammate of Alin Edouard, is talented by prone to mistakes. A true freshman center with a true freshman quarterback with a new coaching staff is a tough combination.

Left tackle Antonio Ford is the best of this unit and is a legitimate NFL prospect. That said, he has struggled in pass protection this season.

Given the struggles of the Wake offensive line and surprising effectiveness of Micah Robinson and Robert Welsh, the Orange defensive front should have a field day on Saturday. If Crume is unable to go, John Raymon, Marcus Coleman and Ryan Slaon should see more snaps.
Edge: Syracuse

Syracuse special teams vs. Wake Forest special teams

Wake Forest kicker Mike Weaver has not missed on the season yet. He gives them a clear edge over Syracuse, who has had their struggles in the kicking game this season.

The punting battle may not be sexy, but will feature two of the ACC’s best in Riley Dixon and Alexander Kinal. Dixon has the edge though with his booming, high arching kicks.

The Syracuse coverage units are solid, but Wake has a more dynamic return man in former Orange recruit Tyree Harris. Because of their advantage with Weaver and Harris, give the Demon Deacons a slight edge on special teams.
Edge: Wake Forest

SYRACUSE/WAKE FOREST COVERAGE

Syracuse Injury Report
Brotherly Love
Confident but Not Satisfied
Scouting Wake Forest
Lester Discusses 1st ACC Road Test
Bullough Previews Wake Forest
Charting A.J. Long
Shafer Teleconference News & Notes


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