The No. 19 Syracuse Orange (6-2, 3-2) have been rock-solid at home this year, but now to try apply some of that success on the road in conference play. For this weekend, that means heading down to Winston-Salem to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-4, 1-3).
Since we’re not Wake Forest fans, we went ahead and asked one about what to expect in this game. Blogger So Dear’s Cameron Lemons Debro (who you can follow on Twitter) joins us to talk about the Deacs.
We asked this question on Twitter a week or so ago, but what do Deacons fans want to call this very weird “rivalry” with Syracuse? (completely understanding that #TheRivalry is already accounted for with Boston College)
I believe the overlord Riley (Johnston) used something along the lines of the fight for the “Orange is the new Black and Gold” trophy. I think that works well. And trust me NOTHING can top something as iconic as #TheRivalry
Greg Dortch seems like the reason the Deacs have any sort of passing game. What specific aspects of his game are so dangerous?
Well besides the fact that he’s legitimately shorter than me (I am not what you call tall) and he can run underneath people, it’s a beautiful blend of his hands and his speed. Dortch has a significant edge with his speed and elusiveness that allows him to get separation and when he gets the ball, it’s going to be very hard to catch him. But if you do somehow cover him... Well, we’ve seen him be able to make catches with one hand. So not really much you can do with him.
For the first time in awhile, the Wake Forest run game is explosive. What’s changed, and what’s the most important thing for the rushing attack to keep at its current pace?
When I came to Wake in 2014, the Deacons produced two of the worst rushing teams I’ve ever seen. It all started with the offensive line. The O-line went is now one of the most experienced lines in the country and it has shown, both in the passing game and in the rushing game. Looking at the last game vs Louisville, Matt Colburn had an absolute field day. While yes he deserves a lot of credit for absolutely blazing past people, that offensive line opened some CHASMS for him to be able to explode through. If Wake is successful up front then the offense churns along well.
Seems Deacons fans are a little disappointed in how this season’s unfolded. What has surprised you most about the results?
I can’t really anything has surprised me, it’s been more just disappointing. Losing Justin Herron absolutely hurt the passing game, Scotty Washington and Alex Bachman have each missed their fair share of time. Oh and we happen to be starting a true freshman QB so that has hurt offensively in critical moments. Defensively, injuries have absolutely hurt. Coby Davis is out for the season, Wake at times has been down to one (UNO) healthy scholarship linebacker, other people in the secondary have missed time. It’s been a nightmare injury-wise. While I don’t think the defense would be top tier with everyone healthy, I don’t think they’d be getting gashed as much as they have been throughout this entire season, the defense has definitely been the Achilles heel of the team.
Eric Dungey’s not an easy player to slow down, and Wake doesn’t have hurricane conditions to stop him this time. What’s the strategy for containing Syracuse’s best offensive weapon?
I sat in the stands for that entire game that parent’s weekend. Was miserable but boy was glad we got a win. While this year it’s homecoming and we won’t have a torrential downpour, I’m hoping the noon game means that Dungey is out partying till 6 a.m. and is severely hungover coming into the game. Seems reasonable, no? But in reality, and while I ABSOLUTELY HATE PLAYING ZONE IN EVERY SPORT THAT YOU’RE ABLE TO, I hope we adhere to just not letting receivers get behind us or it’s going to be a very long day at the office. Good lord it feels like an eternity since we’ve had a sack.
The Deacons’ defense has looked rough all year. Is there a specific aspect of the D that’s struggled more than the rest, or has it been a group effort?
Well I mentioned with the injuries it’s been bad but wow the defensive backs have looked... not good. Blown assignments, straight up just losing people. But made up for it a bit last game. But it is a combination, if the line and linebackers can’t get pressure and hold contain on a QB then it allows them to survey the field and eventually there will be an open player.
Other than Dungey, who’s the Orange player that has you most concerned for Saturday’s matchup?
Chris Slayton is a legit NFL prospect and good luck to anyone who tries to block him
Who’s one unsung Wake Forest player Syracuse should be aware of?
ll I’m saying is that while his name has been called decently in recent games do not sleep on Jack Freudenthal. Wake’s offense really helps pass-catching tight ends (Hi Cam Serigne.) He has quickly become a favorite target of Sam Hartman.
Which football program’s position would you rather be in five years from now: Syracuse’s or Wake Forest’s?
If Wake still has Dave Clawson, give me Wake all the way. First off, New York is just brutally cold and expensive to some negatives there (Ed. note: While NYC is expensive, CNY is very much the opposite). Dino has done a great job up there at that program but I think Dave is a superior coach and recruiter. The class coming next year is absolutely packed with studs and I’m excited with what the team will be if everyone isn’t hurt.
Prediction time: Who wins this one and why?
So this one has bothered me, the smart pick would be to take Syrause and run with it just due to our porous defense. I think either way this is a shootout, but in shootouts I generally give that to the hometown team. I think Wake picks up a 54-48 win (POUND THE OVER). Something just tells me that last win is going to motivate this team to be better and hoping everyone is healthy.