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Syracuse football vs. Boston College preview: Five things to watch for

Hint: there’s gonna be a lot of running.

Syracuse v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

On Saturday, the Carrier Dome will feature two desperate teams looking for a victory to try and build momentum in the back half of the season. The Syracuse Orange are still looking for their first Power Five win, while the Boston College Eagles are staring at a grueling end to their season, but are currently two wins away from bowl eligibility.

Neither team has quite lived up to where fans wanted them to be, and this game will be more than likely be close, if not high quality. What should we be watching for? Let me tell ya.

Dudes will run the ball

If you haven’t heard, Dennis Grosel is the quarterback for Boston College. He’s a walk on replacing Anthony Brown, who’s out for the season. Grosel has been less than great, completing only 21 of his 60 pass attempts on the season. He’s only thrown one pick, but only has 3 touchdowns, which all came versus Louisville. Instead, BC will rely on AJ Dillon, who’s been one of the best running backs in the country when healthy and not run down. Dillon isn’t as dynamic as Cam Akers, but expect the Eagles to feed him like FSU fed Akers; the Junior already has 197 carriers on the year for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Any success comes from getting Dillon running early, often, and effective enough to keep the Eagles on the field.

Our Dudes will run the ball too!

The Florida State game was far from good, but the Orange saw their offense finally put together drives with the ability to run the ball, utilizing the trio of Moe Neal, Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard to consistently move the ball forward. While some of this was helped by FSU opting to play far more conservatively, the Orange’s offense cannot survive when the pass game is foremost in the game plan. 192 yards is nothing to sneeze at if you’re the Orange, and that kind of game, particularly from Neal and Adams, will be key in keeping ‘Cuse in the game.

Syracuse v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Will Tommy DeVito have time in the pocket?

The Syracuse defense has allowed 42 sacks so far, with 16 coming in the last two weeks. For those worrying about facing another top tier defensive line, don’t. Boston College only has 8 sacks on the year. Now, this isn’t to say that Syracuse will suddenly be a top performing line, but unlike the last few weeks, Tommy DeVito should have a chance to look like he did versus Western Michigan (287 Passing yards and 4 TD in the air) than running for his life.

Will the defense sell out to stop the run?

As mentioned above, Boston College will have to run the ball if they want to win. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try to keep ‘Cuse honest. I’d love to see the secondary step up and handle man to man assignments with confidence and skill to allow Brian Ward to stack the box with 7 or 8 defenders. Utilize Antwan Cordy’s abilities! Throw Mikel Jones out there! You know AJ Dillon is getting the ball. If he’s not, Andre Cisco, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Christopher Fredrick, and Evan Foster will handle BC’s receivers.

Szymt’s Rhythm

The reigning Lou Groza award winner hasn’t had a bad 2019 campaign, nailing 9 of his 12 kicks this season. However, Szmyt’s game versus FSU featured yet another missed kick from 40 yards or more, and his first kick of more than 50 yards, which went in and helped get that monkey off his back. Still, Szymt’s 1-of-4 when kicking further than 40 yards this year, and the Orange haven’t shown a great ability to get closer than that with any regularity. A game at home in the Dome should help him feel comfortable, but the game will more than likely be close, and all kicks by Szymt will be needed for the Orange to win their first 2019 ACC game.