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Syracuse football: things to watch vs NC State

In case you’ve been asleep there’s a big game on Saturday

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NC State v Clemson Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange come off their bye week with a chance to go 6-0 and secure bowl eligibility for the first time since 2018. In order to do this, they will have to find a way to beat the NC State Wolfpack. Beating NC State has proven to be a difficult challenge for the Orange who enter the game with a 2-13 record against the Pack.

Here’s what we are looking for in Saturday’s game between these two ranked teams:

Christian: You know what? You can keep it.

I never thought I’d say this, but Garrett Shrader can keep the ball a bit. NC State allowed FSU QB Jordan Travis to run for 118 gained yards on just seven rushes. Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei ran for 78 gained yards on 14 rushes. There’s opportunities for the Orange QB to run the ball a bit. We saw the Syracuse offense go a little flat when Shrader tried to force balls with throws instead of using his legs whether optioning or scrambling. Add to the fact that NC State is coming off allowing opponents to convert third downs via rushes at least 60% of the time in back-to-back games and Shrader’s past primary focus might not be a bad thing to utilize.

Kevin: Stop Slimey Shark doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.

Steve pointed out to us that NC State running back Demie Sumo-Karngbaye is called “Slimey Shark” and well I just had to get the song stuck in your heads now too. Seriously though no matter who is the quarterback on Saturday, the Wolfpack want to run the ball and then open passes to Thayer Thomas. While backup Jack Chambers has started before, the graduate transfer’s job will be easier if the Orange have to commit more defenders to the running game. Something tells me Marlowe Wax and Mikel Jones would have no reservation about wrestling with sharks on Saturday.

Mike: Syracuse’s run game

Sean Tucker finally had some long runs during the last game against Wagner. But considering the opponent, you’ll forgive me if I’m still a little skeptical about him replicating that performance. The o-line has had plenty of time to sort out run-blocking issues since Chris Elmore went down, even throwing redshirt freshman Wes Hoeh in at the fullback position. If they can’t show that improvement this week, then teams with very good pass defenses are going to keep more guys deep and make it really hard for ‘Cuse to move the ball.

Steve: Control the air.

To keep Shrader able to move on the ground as Christian mentioned above, there needs to be the threat of an aerial assault. If not, keeping a spy on Garrett can limit that, but if that’s a thing, it will open things up a bit in the air. The wideouts will need to make plays, but it’s imperative that the passing game can keep the ground game alive, especially with the NC State interior defensive line. On the flip side, Jack Chambers showed last year at Charleston Southern that he can throw the ball. While he didn’t against Florida State, that doesn’t mean that Garrett Williams and Duce Chestnut can go to sleep this week...

What are you going to be looking for during Saturday’s game?