TAKEAWAYS FROM GAME 2: vs. WAKE FOREST
• The number one take away from Week 2 is a win. The Orange are 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the ACC. They have already reached two thirds of their win total from last year, and albeit based on the schedule got their first conference win in Week 2 which they did not earn until Game 7 last season against the same Demon Deacons.
• Eric Dungey earned more reps at the quarterback position. His line was still low going only 8 of 13, but he nearly doubled his output from Week 1 (114) with 221 yards this week. He also gained 58 on the ground proving he is a dual threat, and led the team in carries with 12. As Dungey gains confidence on a weekly basis both through the air and with his legs the promise of the future continues to look bright. He also hit Brisly Estime for an 89 yard strike and found Steve Ishmael late for 53 yards. This displays that he can make the big play when needed and hopefully this is foreshadowing of things to come against more formidable non-conference and ACC opponents.
• Brisly Estime seems to be the big target for Dungey in the last couple weeks. Granted the Orange don’t throw a ton, only 34 attempts in two games, but there seems to be comfortability between Estime and his quarterback. He also earned 117 all-purpose yards combined with receiving (98, -3 rushing) and return yardage (22), which proves he can be dynamic both on offense and special teams. If Dungey can gain confidence with Estime and Steve Ishmael (1-53-1), it can really make the passing balance the run game.
• Where was Jordan Fredericks? After rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown against Rhode Island, as well as setting several freshman records at Syracuse in Week 1. This week he managed only 21 yards on 6 carries, and seemed to take a back seat behind Devante McFarlane (9-36) and George Morris (6-46). If the Orange goes with a running back by committee, which is now vogue in the NFL, Jordan Fredericks would become no more than a flex option if Fantasy Football existed at the college level. It will all be based on scheme and opponents, and it seems to be a wait and see week by week analysis for Ground Jordan. He is forceful in the backfield, but needs to see more chances to build on the first game of the season.
• DEFENSE, DEFENSE! After trouncing Rhode Island in Week 1 47-0, the Orange Crush kept their momentum going with a win 30-17 victory over Wake Forest. In two games, SU has outscored opponents 77-17, limiting the scoring of both of their FCS and FBS opponents. Heading into the week, they owned the best statistical defense in the nation among FBS teams, and again held their opponent under 100 yards rushing. Throw in Donnie Simmons first interception and return for touchdown in his life, and Luke Arciniega’s two sacks; the “‘Cuse is loose” as they say on the defensive side of the ball. Overall, SU had four total sacks, nine tackles for a loss, and three interceptions.
• Need for Improvement: The ‘Cuse must close ranks in the secondary after giving up 373 yards in the air, as John Wolford was 30 for 45 for Wake Forest. Wolford has a lot of moxie in the pocket, but the defense bailed him out time and time again with poor coverage. This is inexcusable going forward, as Syracuse will undoubtedly face stronger quarterbacks such as Brandon Harris (LSU), Everett Golson (Florida State), and Deshaun Watson (Clemson). Hopefully, this is something that Syracuse can work on effectively to help their young secondary improve on the fly. More is expected from Julian Whigham, Chauncey Scissum, and Antwan Cordy protecting against the deep ball. But, it still requires a complete effort from the defense and they must work as a cohesive unit. You can point fingers at the secondary, but ultimately poor pass coverage falls on everyone’s shoulders and is an imperative goal going forward.
OUTLOOK FOR GAME 3: vs. CENTRAL MICHIGAN
• Reminder to Syracuse and its fans, Central Michigan is NOT FCS! The Chippewas come from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) which is one of the larger conferences in FBS with 13 teams in their league. They are currently in the middle of the pack of the West Division in the MAC, with a record of 1-1.
• In Week 1, Central Michigan played host to Oklahoma State of the Big 12 losing only 24-13. Then in Week 2 the maroon and gold owned FCS opponent Monmouth (Northeast Conference) 31-10. So, they have had similar success as Syracuse in terms of performance overall, but their potential is uncertain.
• Last season the Orange clobbered Central Michigan on their turf 40-3 in Game 2 of the season. So, you can bet that the Chippewas have a “chip” on their shoulders looking to get revenge at the Carrier Dome.
• It’s hard to compare years, but last season CMU actually had more yards in the passing game than SU (183 vs. 175), proving that the secondary is still an issue for the Cuse. One of their biggest weaknesses still exists this year, and this game would be a great time to improve just before facing LSU.
• Cooper Rush, quarterback for CMU, has thrown for 778 yards thus far, including three touchdowns. Syracuse has given up 433 yards thus far in two games. Rush has nearly doubled that on his own, and does have two interceptions on the season, but he feeds right in to the weaknesses of the Orange on defense. Last season, Rush was 18 of 34 for 183 yards, so SU should make him a priority in the pre-game plans.
• Keeping an eye on the quarterback also means evaluating his options, so again the task for Orange defenders will be to zero in on receivers like Ben McCord, Anthony Rice and Mark Chapman who all have over 100 yards this season.
• There is a lot weighing on this upcoming week for the Orange, as they must be 3-0 heading into the LSU showdown. The ‘Cuse cannot look ahead, but fans want to see this team improve and make future games on the schedule very noteworthy.