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Syracuse vs. Wagner football preview: Five things to watch

Syracuse gets their annual FCS opponent. Will it be like Villanova? Please, no. (It probably won’t be.)

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Western Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange get their Carrier Dome opener on Saturday versus FCS North Wagner Seahawks. While we already previewed this game, there’s still plenty to watch for in this contest, even if we’re all planning on a blow out win for ‘Cuse.

Just how angry will Eric Dungey play?

The newest Heisman hopeful is picking up some attention and is now pretty motivated to drag this team along with him to whatever promise land this ride could lead to.

While the Orange offense relied mostly on the run versus Western Michigan, Dungey was more than confident to call his own number numerous times — creating a question about just how effective this rushing attack might be against ACC opponents.

If I was a betting man, I’d put my NunesBucks on Dungey coming out with his head down (hold onto your butts, Syracuse fans) and going all out until...

How long will Dungey stay in the game?

I didn’t think we’d be here going into the 2018 season. But after the apparent controversy last week, everyone will be wondering what happens if ‘Cuse goes up 30 or more in the first half. If all goes according to plan, the Orange should be in control from the onset. And that will put Dino in a situation to determine when the backups (most notably including Tommy DeVito) get their snaps. Just how long Dino keeps Dungey in will be the top story of the second half of the game, especially if he’s not taking hits and putting up the same sort of huge numbers we saw against WMU.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Will Devin Butler and Sean Riley up their game?

Butler and Riley had clunkers in their first game, dropping more than five passes between the two of them. Both will have to step up their game going forward as Dungey has already admitted Jamal Custis is his number one choice at receiver.

Riley is effective as a weapon as a return man and in the backfield (just go back and watch the number of times he was used as a motion option vs WMU), but has to be able to catch the ball if he’s going to play wideout. Butler is under even more pressure; with so many talented young receivers sure to get looks in garbage time, he really has to show his ability or risk falling down the depth chart.

How will the front the 7 perform versus what’s definitely a run-focused attack?

Here’s the deal: the defense wasn’t great. Wagner shouldn’t be tear them up, but the Seahawks do have a really solid running game. And here’s the problem: the run defense for the Orange got eaten alive by Western Michigan.

Again, Wagner won’t offer an amazing offensive line challenge, but if the linebackers can’t find a way to be effective, there’s a huge problem moving forward.

Kicking game: All fine?

Dino and Co. made it official and named Andre Szmyt the starting kicker for the Orange. He seemed to handle himself well in Kalamazoo, but we’ve seen many a kicker for the Orange look good in a tough environment only come into the Dome and suddenly develop the yips. It would be more than ideal for the Orange is Szmyt handles business as usual and special teams continues to be a strength for this team.