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Syracuse vs. Florida State: Where each team with high expectations has gone wrong

Issues on both sides of the ball have held both the Orange and Seminoles back this season.

Florida State v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

When the Syracuse Orange and Florida State Seminoles kicked off the 2019 season, each team had lofty hopes and expectations. After the program’s first 10-win season in nearly two decades last year, SU looked to progress even further this season. Meanwhile, FSU aimed to inch closer to national prominence again after its first season without a bowl game in 42 years.

However, both the Orange and Seminoles are off to weak 3-4 starts to the season. As the two teams prepare to square off at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, lets take a look at where things have gone wrong for each squad.

BOTH: Offensive Line

We’ve already heard this story for Syracuse. The unit has allowed more sacks than anyone else in the country after losing three players to graduation.

When it comes to Florida State, poor offensive line play was inherited. The Seminoles allowed 36 sacks last season, among the 10 worst figures in the country. Unfortunately for FSU, things have not gotten much better, as they’ve allowed 24 so far. While not as bad as the Orange, they are still ranked 120th in sacks allowed right now.

FSU: QB Situation

Syracuse now has its own quarterback situation after Tommy DeVito went down last week and was relieved by Clayton Welch (who took plenty of hits himself). But for Florida State, inconsistency at the quarterback position has been a theme all season long.

Until last weekend against Wake Forest, both James Blackman and grad transfer Alex Hornibrook rotated through for the most part. Against the Demon Deacons, Blackman played a full 60 minutes under center. It’s not completely clear if it stays the same on Saturday, but for what it’s worth, Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart did say that the team was “moving forward with James” on a radio show earlier this week.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 Clemson at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

SU: Defensive Inconsistency

This is not a full negative for SU. Only surrendering 16 points to NC State was a more than solid showing and the defense played well for most of the non-conference slate too.

That said, Maryland scored 63 points. Syracuse got beat badly on trick plays in back-to-back weeks. Making adjustments week-to-week is one of the most crucial elements to building a strong football team and the fact the the Orange didn’t learn from getting burnt by the Wolfpack really highlights the problem here.

For the most part, the personnel itself is pretty strong. Now, it’s just a matter of whether they can properly lock in.

FSU: Pass Defense

If Syracuse is incapable of putting up a strong passing performance against Florida State, it’s never going to happen this season.

The Seminoles are surrendering 293 passing yards per game, good for the ninth-worst mark in the country. On the low end, they let UL-Monroe tally 241 yards. On the high end, Hank Bachmeier put together 407 yards in the air for Boise State against FSU.

Even with a future first-round pick in Marvin Wilson on the defensive line, the defensive backs just get burnt so easily that it has taken a consistent toll on FSU throughout the season.