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Syracuse football: four things to watch vs Clemson

No complaints about a Nooner this week

NC State v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange face their toughest challenge of the 2022 season on Saturday. With a road trip to meet the Clemson Tigers for the ACC Atlantic Division lead, what do the Orange need to do to get the upset win?

Here’s what we’re looking for on Saturday:

Christian: Time to prove it

We’ve seen Garrett Shrader continue to improve as a passer as the season’s gone on. Now is the time to put it all together. The stark weakness in Clemson’s season so far is the pass defense. The Tigers are allowing the third-most passing yards per game in the ACC with 255.3 per game. On the flip side, Clemson’s rush defense is the best in the league, holding opponents to 84.4 rush yards per game. It won’t be easy for Tucker and Shrader to have an impact with the legs. Gadsden and the other receivers need to help Shrader take advantage of the only visible weakness in Clemson’s so-far pristine season.

Steve: This is a broken record

We’re of course heading to the trenches. The Orange have now been nominated for the Joe Moore Award, for the best offensive line unit of the year, voted on by the FBS offensive line coaches. This is a transformation from years past, and this crew will be up against their biggest test this year, heading to Clemson. Clemsons defensive line is one of the biggest and baddest around, with KJ Henry, Myles Murphy, Bryan Bresee and Tyler Davis. This game is going to be what shows whether the nod for the Moore Award was worth while or not this season.

Andy: Physicality all over the field

The biggest difference between the Syracuses and the Clemsons of the Power 5 is the blue chip depth of players along the roster, and that difference can be observed the easiest via size and strength of players. The Orange and Dino Babers have done a great job minimizing that difference along the trenches, and we know Sean Tucker and Garrett Shrader aren’t afraid on contact on offense. So how will this game be broken open by the Tigers? Their skill players on offense and defense outmuscle the rest of the Orange’s roster. The linebacking and secondary positions are banged up, while the receiving crew has relied on Oronde Gadsden, so if Syracuse is going to hang in this game, they cannot get beat physically in those areas.

Kevin: The middle 8 minutes

Clemson has put a focus on closing the first half and starting the 2nd half. We know that Syracuse hasn’t handled these situations well in the past but this staff seems better prepare to adjust at halftime. Christian pointed out that Syracuse likes to take the ball first when they win the toss so if that’s the case Saturday the Orange need to maintain focus in this time around halftime.

That’s what we’re looking for this week, what about you?