Boston College takes on Syracuse on Saturday to close out their hugely disappointing season. We sat down with our counterparts over at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician to preview the game.
1. After a 6-0 start, Syracuse has lost 5 in a row. What is the mood around the team right now? What has led to this second-half meltdown?
Going into the season, most of us knew that Syracuse pretty much had to win four of the first five games to be in bowl contention. It’s not a huge surprise that the Orange have struggled in the second half; they’ve faced a lot of tough competition and many of their key players on both sides of the ball are injured. Leaders like FB Chris Elmore, LB Stefon Thompson, CB Garrett Williams, and others have been sorely missed. A raw Carlos Del Rio-Wilson being forced in at QB for a game-and-a-half also didn’t help.
But despite the recent struggles, not one player has given up. I can tell you firsthand that these guys are just as frustrated as the fans are about their losing streak, and they’re going to keep doing everything they can to finish strong. This is a very tight-knit group that will fight to the end – especially the “Mob” defense.
2. Give a name to watch on the offensive and defensive side of the ball for the Orange.
On offense, expect a pleasing performance from RB Sean Tucker. It may very well be his final game in an Orange uniform and he’ll look to go out on a high note. Last week was his first 100+ yard rushing game since before the bye and he needs just 65 more for another 1k-season on the ground.
On defense, look out for Marlowe Wax. He’s emerged as a great right-hand man to Mikel Jones at the LB position, forcing plenty of pressure and a pair of turnovers this season. We’d love to have him back next year as he could seamlessly transition into Mikel’s soon-to-be-vacant spot.
3. Zay Flowers was just named a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, and this BC team goes as he goes. How will Syracuse slow him down?
There’s not an easy answer to that, or somebody would’ve figured it out by now. DC Tony White loves to trust his corners in man coverage, but with Williams out, I don’t think Duce Chestnut is up to that challenge. Zay must be doubled whenever possible and even in zone coverage, I think you need to divert an extra man to him and forget about spying a stationary QB.
4. Boston College’s O-line has struggled mightily. How does Syracuse’s front 7 match up?
For what it’s worth, you’re not the only ones with a struggling O-line. But to answer your question:
The ‘Cuse D-line may be undersized, but it still has some legit hitters. DL Caleb Okechukwu leads the team with six sacks, and he is the guy to double-team when you can. The 5’11” Kevon Darton is your best matchup to take advantage of and get some breathing room in the backfield. Because you don’t have a scrambler under center, count on a lot of blitzes to force quick throws.
5. How does Syracuse take the W? What about BC?
The Orange has three main weapons on offense: Shrader, Tucker, and WR Oronde Gadsden. When they are all in synch, the offense marches down the field with ease. Because SU has the advantage in the rushing game, they should employ a lot of option plays to keep the Eagles guessing and give Gadsden extra time to get open. As long as the blocking is decent and the defense doesn’t make careless mistakes, this should finally be the seventh SU victory.
BC can get the upset by taking advantage of Flowers’s raw talent. He can beat any one of the DBs in single coverage if he focuses on quick routes like slants and screens to start. The deep ball will come with time as the young Orange defense gets worn out. On the other side, Shrader has been prone to not throw the ball away and try to force it into tight windows. The Eagles’ secondary needs to be aggressive and go for picks.
Thanks to Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician for their time. Our Q&A with them will be up on their site soon.