Syracuse (1-1, 0-1 in ACC) will look to rebound from its blowout loss against Louisville last week when they take the field against the USF Bulls (2-0; 0-0 in AAC) Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. Syracuse coach Dino Babers addressed his team’s recent woes and necessary adjustments while appearing on the ACC Coaches Teleconference Wednesday morning.
Here are the biggest takeaways.
Keys to Success
The Orange may be a 14.5-point underdog entering Saturday’s matchup against USF, but if college football has taught us anything, it’s to never underestimate your opponent as crazy upsets occur on a weekly basis.
For Syracuse to pull out the surprise win on Saturday, Babers said his team will need to limit their turnorvers, win the kicking game and play better defense – the latter of which he emphatically emphasized after he saw his team give up 21 points to Louisville within the first five minutes last week.
“We’ve got to play better defense,” Babers said. “You can’t give up 21 points that fast in a football game and always be able to fight yourself back to a situation where you have a chance to win. We’ve got to find a way to play better defense early and come out of the gate ready to go.”
Syracuse’s secondary was already a cause for concern entering the season However, that concern reached new heights last week after starting safety Antwan Cordy and cornerback Juwan Dowels both left Friday’s contest against Louisville with injuries. Cordy appeared to injure his left arm and/or hand, while Dowels had trouble putting weight on either of his legs and needed help walking to the tunnel.
Although it appears unlikely either player will play Saturday, Babers refused to completely rule them out.
“Those guys are banged up. They’re both limping around,” Babers said. “We haven’t gotten a final status on them, it’s going to be coming probably later on in the week.”
O (you can do better)-line
Syracuse’s offensive line has done a meh job so far this season, and Babers admitted as much. The first-year Syracuse coach said the o-line has done an “okay” job in terms of pass protection, but needs to improve in terms of run blocking.
The Orange average just under 3.2 yards-per-carry (that number drops to 2.5 when you take out Moe Neal’s 49-yard run against Colgate) and were out-rushed by nearly 300 yards last week against Louisville.
“We need to be able to find ways to run the football,” Babers said. “There were certain looks during the game (against Louisville) where we could have ran the ball better than we did, and we didn’t execute.”