The (6-1) Syracuse Orange look to bounce back on Saturday afternoon when the (4-3) Notre Dame Fighting Irish come to the JMA Wireless Dome. This is our first opportunity to see how the 2022 squad responds to a loss, so here’s what we’re looking for this weekend.
Christian: Facing the same problem
You know what you’re going to get from Notre Dame’s offense, and Syracuse should be prepared for it. The big reason for that is that the Fighting Irish offense looks very similar to the Clemson offense that the Orange just faced. That is a heavily reliance on the run game with one true receiver that happens to be the tight end. Now that I say that, this is basically Syracuse’s offense as well, expect both Notre Dame and Clemson can rotate running backs. What the Fighting Irish don’t have is a quarterback who can run like Garrett Shrader or DJ Uiagalelei. So the focus has to be on whoever gets the majority of the rushing attempts, which will probably be Logan Diggs, and doing your best against Michael Mayer.
Mike: Keep Halloween from coming early
Michael Mayer is easily the scariest part of the Notre Dame attack. He has three 100+ yard games already and the second-most receiving yards among all college TEs. Mayer has the potential to be a nightmare for the kids on the SU defense. To limit the damage, I think the Mob needs to double up on him all afternoon and trust your d-line to contain the Irish rushing attack. Since Drew Pyne doesn’t have the scrambling prowess that many ‘Cuse foes had this year, they don’t necessarily need to leave a spy over the middle and can instead devote that extra man to the rush or pass coverage. Here’s hoping this Michael ends up being as much of a dud as the imposter in “Halloween Ends.”
Andy: Does the team match the fans?
Yes, everyone will be wearing Orange (or at least they should) but I’m talking about the general deflation that the fanbase has shown since the Clemson loss. It sure feels incredibly muted going into a huge game with a sold out crowd that should cause plenty of issues for ND, but that crowd will only get going if the team comes out strong. Is the team feeling as deflated as the fanbase? I hope not, because a slow start against ND is part one of the recipe for an Irish upset. ND can and will win if the game gets ugly, messy, slow, and quiet in the Dome. Syracuse can flip all that with a fast start to energize the sold out crowd.
Kevin: Someone emerging from the shadows
With defenses keying on stopping Sean Tucker and Oronde Gadsden, which offensive player will emerge to help Garrett Shrader out? Yes, Tucker needs touches and Gadsden has been the go-to receiver, but if the Orange are going to beat better teams another player has to take advantage of the focus on these two weapons. Damien Alford made a great sideline grab on the last drive at Clemson, but it was his only catch of the day. Courtney Jackson was shut out and Trebor Pena was limited to short passes. If the Orange want to make that Orange Bowl push they need to find someone else to make a big play for them
That’s what we’re watching for this week, tell us what you’ll be watching on Saturday.