Matchup Preview: Syracuse at Wake Forest

Syracuse and Wake Forest square off on Saturday in a key ACC matchup. Everything you need to know to get prepared for the game inside.


Time – Saturday, October 8th, 7:00pm, BB&T Field

TV/Radio – YES, 99.5FM WTKW

Series – Syracuse leads 4-1 (Streak: Syracuse 4)

Last meeting – 2015, Syracuse won 30-17

Coaches: Syracuse – Dino Babers (1st season, 2-3); Wake Forest – Dave Clawson (3rd season, 10-19)



When it Rains, it Pours – Hurricane Matthew may cause some interesting weather for Saturday's game. While the worst of it is expected to stay far enough way that it will not impact the game being played, it could still cause some rainy and windy conditions. If it does, this could impact Syracuse's strong aerial attack. Wake probably would not mind such a scenario. 

Fast Start, Slow Start – In complete contrast, Syracuse has been able to get off to fast starts offensively this season. They have scored 17, 14 and 13 points in their last three first quarters. Conversely, Wake Forest has found themselves in early deficits. They've been outscored 41-17 in the first quarter this season. Syracuse, however, has slowed down in the second halves of games. 

Big Plays – Both defenses enter this matchup having given up their fair share of big plays. In two games this season, Syracuse has given up long pass plays for touchdowns on the first play from scrimmage. Wake Forest has given up a lot of big plays in the first quarter as well. Whichever defense can limit chunk plays and long scoring plays will have a huge advantage. 



John Wolford vs Syracuse Secondary

The Syracuse secondary has been torched in three of the last four games. Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford is not on the same level as Lamar Jackson, Quentin Flowers or DeShone Kizer, but he has the ability to make plays with his arm and feet. If Syracuse is going to have success against the Demon Deacons in this one, it starts with the secondary stepping up, minimizing big plays and shrinking the throwing windows for Wolford. 

Orange Wins if …

They Get Stops – If Syracuse can get off to another fast start offensively while holding down the Wake Forest offense, it should provide a positive result for the rest of the game. Putting the Demon Deacons on their heels will not only force them to press a little bit, but give the Orange confidence on both sides of the ball. With Syracuse's ability to score, getting some key stops to put Wake in an early hole will prove critical.   


Demon Deacons Win if …

They Start Fast – Eventually, if Wake Forest keeps falling behind early, it will catch up to them. This game is a prime example of where it could do just that. Starting fast to match any scores from the up-tempo Syracuse offense will put pressure on the Orange as the game progresses. Consider Syracuse has struggled in the second halves of games while Wake has played better, a fast start for Wake is necessary if they are to protect their home turf. 




Impact Player

WR Amba Etta-Tawo – Etta-Tawo leads the nation in receiving and continues to torch opposing defenses. Notre Dame gave extensive safety help over the top against him last week, but he still racked up over 130 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. Etta-Tawo is a big time playmaker. 

Something to Prove

Syracuse Secondary – It has been a rough season so far for the Orange secondary. They have been torched by teams with potent offensive attacks. They were solid against Connecticut, and are looking for a similar performance against Wake Forest. They don't have to be stellar, but be just good enough to let the Orange offense do its thing.   

Looking to Build

LB Zaire Franklin – The light bulb may have gone off for Syracuse's defensive leader in the new system. He has put together back to back strong performances. He finished last week with nine tackles, a sack and an interception against Notre Dame. Franklin is smart, moving well laterally and is understanding his assignments better and better each week. 

Freshman to Watch

RB Moe Neal – A speedy, shifty runner, Moe Neal returns to his home state to play in front of a plethora of friends and family. Neal had Wake Forest as one of his final schools, and has an opportunity to make plays against them in this one. He has seen plenty of snaps in each game, and could be in for a bigger role if the weather means more of a ground attack for Syracuse. 

Opposing Players to Watch

QB John Wolford - Wolford may not do anything great, but he does a lot of things well. Wolford is accurate, poised in the pocket and can move around a little bit. He is a tough, tough kid who has been beaten up behind a subpar offensive line the last two seasons. With line play improving and facing a secondary that has its issues, he could be in line for a strong performance.  

RB Cade Carney - Carney is a speedy running back who has been out with an injury. He returns to the Wake lineup this week and is exactly the kind of running back that has given Syracuse trouble this year and in year's past. He explodes through the hole, is elusive in the second level, and is a true home run threat.  

TE Cam Serigne - Serigne has not been as big of a factor in the Wake Forest passing attack this season, but he has torched the Orange in the last two meetings. Syracuse has actually done well against opposing tight ends this year, so this matchup is an intriguing one from both sides. Serigne is also a very good run blocker, which will help Carney find running room. 

DE Duke Ejiofor - Through five games, Ejiofor has 5.5 sacks and is the best pass rusher for the Demon Deacons. He is a force off the edge and will test the Syracuse offensive line that is down three starters. 

LB Marquell Lee - Lee is a sure tackler who plays with strong instincts and a high football IQ. He will be a key force in Wake Forest trying to limit Syracuse's rushing attack. He is also able to get into the backfield at times and be disruptive against the run or pass. 

SS Jessie Bates - A redshirt freshman defensive back, Bates has the size, speed, length and athleticism to be a start. He is already proving how talented he is by leading Wake Forest in tackles and interceptions. Bates is a ballhawking, playmaking safety who does everything well. 

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