The Syracuse Orange did not do so well in last week’s matchup with Louisville. Coming off the loss, they’ll face another team with a mobile quarterback and some upside. “Great.”
Below, the Daily Stampede’s Collin Sherwin (who you should follow on Twitter) stops by to tell us everything we need to know about those pesky USF Bulls. For those confused, the Daily Stampede is largely the same operation from the Voodoo Five days at SB Nation. So chances are you recall at least a few of the South Florida folks that show up here. Be friendly.
Oh, and I answered some questions over there too, if you’d like to wander over.
Syracuse got roasted by Louisville's Lamar Jackson last week. Do you think Quinton Flowers possesses a similar enough skill set to do similar damage?
I'd say similar but not mirror image. Quinton has tremendous elusiveness, and the ability to draw in defenders to the box so that receivers get man coverage down the field. But I'd also say Jackson is more dynamic, has more size... and turns it over a helluva lot more. Q's best quality is the lack of turnovers for the style of offense USF runs. He's very good at keeping possession, and Jackson isn't there yet. UL could have put up triple digits without the TO's.
Like Jackson, Flowers misses WIDE open throws a lot, and it's frustrating to watch when a receiver is acres behind a defense or quarantined in the flat and the pass bounces yards in front of him. But he also makes more than he misses, and when the pocket breaks down he's got that Jackson-type ability to take off and steal your soul.
He's not an NFL guy (one current theory is his hands might just be too small to get a consistent grip on the football), but he's for sure a playmaker.
Have you tuned into the Orange at all this season? What elements of the new offense create some concern on your end?
I watched the UL game, and I think Eric Dungey is a heckuva QB (liked him last year too). But you just don't have the dynamic playmakers yet to threaten us in space. You sure as hell hired the right coach to get them however, and they'll be with you soon. When USF was 1-3 last season, Dino Babers was at the top of our wishlist if we needed to make a coaching hire.
Our "Gulf Coast Offense" is quite similar to what Babers brought you, so we see it in practice every day. We're honestly not nearly as worried as maybe we should be about this game because we've been just pasting people with points since Week 5 vs. you last season.
Even if we give up 35, after seeing your defense lie down vs. UL, I'll be stunned if we don't get 50 or more.
Winning big en route to a 2-0 start, obviously a lot has gone right for USF thus far. But what's gone the MOST right?
Depth and athleticism and playmakers in space. The best RB in our conference didn't play against NIU, and it was no-doubter all night.
We've got wide receivers on top of tight ends on top of backfield pass catchers, so you can't focus on anyone. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is an NC State transfer who came home and is simply a freak. By skills, he's possibly the best WR in program history. Add to him Rodney Adams (1000 yards last year), Ryeshene Bronson (breakaway downfield speed), Tyre McCants, Chris Barr, D'Ernest Johnson (RB Wheel Route King), two stud tight ends in Elkanah Dillon and Mitchell Wilcox... you can't cover everyone. We've got a four-star superstud freshman recruit in Darnell Salomon that's only getting on the field in garbage time, and he's got NFL talent.
USF has been good before, but they've never had this type of talent and depth at the skill positions. It's been fantastic to watch.
It seems like the running game hasn't skipped a beat without Marlon Mack -- what are the odds we see him this weekend?
Mack is listed as "probable" for this game, and he missed last week vs. Northern Illinois. He's the best back in the AAC and is very possibly leaving for the NFL after this season. And the USF proletariat simply doesn't want him to play if he's not 100% on Saturday, because his backups in Darius Tice and D'Ernest Johnson are starters for basically any other non-Houston team in our league. Tice is excellent as both a catcher (caught a 44-yard TD on a screen last week) and runner, and Johnson WILL score on a wheel against you. Mark it down.
The Bulls started this year as a team right outside the top 25, and are slowly moving up. What is the ceiling of your expectations this season?
Hosting the College Football Playoff in our stadium??
That's a bit much, but as we see it there's three major hurdles to this season:
1. FSU. It's in 12 days, so our biggest fear is Syracuse being a trap game. For national recognition, it's a great barometer of where we are, and it's at home. We'll likely need some breaks and bounces, but Houston's rout of Oklahoma is the template.
Houston is also more talented than we are, and FSU is also more talented than Oklahoma. So yes, it'll be an uphill climb.
2. Houston in the AAC Championship Game (we don't play them during the regular season). Our division is not good, and though ECU has been slightly frisky, we get them at home for Homecoming.
3. Complacency and the random bounces of college football. On talent, we're clearly the best team in our division and should play in the title game. But injuries, fumble luck, bad matchups, etc, make this absolutely not a sure thing. It's not like we're Boise State running through the MWC-WAC under Chris Petersen, but we are the deserved favorite in the AAC East.
Is there one Syracuse player in particular that scares you more than the rest? (and is so, why)
Dungey! You've got a good one there. Also Etta-Tawo is cause for serious concern. The Bulls did a real nice job on NIU's Kenny Golladay (remember the name, an NDSU transfer that looks like an NFL guy), holding him to four catches for 43 yards. But they could also shift the coverage to him a bit more because NIU doesn't have other receiver talent. Stopping him without leaving other guys available to make plays is my biggest concern.
You had 40 carries for just 123 yards last week, but I think you'll have a better average against the Bulls front seven. They're good (though possibly without Bruce Hector this week), but UL just has more athletes there.
USF wins comfortably by _____.
Continuing the second half from last year's game, but now with USF clicking even more and using a deeper, more talented roster. Putting Florida athletes (USF has more local players on scholarship than any team in FBS) in space and letting them make plays. Think of the UL game, but with a bit less athleticism and for sure less turnovers.
Syracuse pulls an upset and rights the ship after a rough week two by _____.
Dungey keeping plays alive with his feet, a second and third receiver finding ways to get open, and the SU defense not playing dead like they did against UL.
We've been there. USF flat quit against McNeese State in 2013 and lost 50-18 at home to an FCS team, and I got the same vibe from the Orange on Friday. But our coach got it fixed, and I think Dino will as well. Give that man time, space, and a new facility.
Prediction: What happens in this game, and how?
I think the Bulls hang a big number and win pretty easily. The defense however might more vulnerable than the one you saw last week, so I think you'll put up a few more points too. Bang the over hard when that number comes out, and I'll call it USF 59-Syracuse 37.
Lotta scoring, but a comfortable 4th quarter for the Bulls.