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Syracuse football: things to watch vs Pittsburgh

Bataille à trois rivières

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange look to break a two-game losing streak when they travel to face the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday afternoon.

Both teams fell apart in the final quarter last weekend and turned close games into blowout losses. How will the Orange respond this week? Here’s what we are watching for:

Christian: Fool me one, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times...

...let’s not contemplate too hard what that would mean for Syracuse’s defenses. We’re getting the obvious out of the way early - have the Orange learned from the past two weeks? By now the coaching staff should have enough data and footage to know how to stop a run heavy offense. Israel Abanikanda has scored Pitt’s last nine touchdowns. Syracuse’s secondary has proven it is more than capable to stop an average to good passing attack. And given recent trends, you know what Pitt is turning to in order to spark offense.

Kevin: Alternate weapons

One bright spot from the Notre Dame game was that the second half provided opportunities for D’Marcus Adams. The FAU transfer only had two receptions but they went for 43 yards and a touchdown. Adams made a nice catch in traffic and then left his defender reaching on an out and up route for a touchdown. This gives Adams two touchdowns on only three receptions this season and he could be the big-play weapon Syracuse needs to take pressure off of Sean Tucker and Oronde Gadsden II.

Andy: Walking wounded on defense

I’m not going to lie: the last team I want to face with little depth on defense is a Pat Narduzzi coached team. While he may not be the world’s most offensive tactician, he’s a coach who would prefer to beat you 3 yards at a time instead of on 90-yard bombs. The Orange’s front 6 is thin on both the line and linebackers, let alone the Garrett Williams injury that weakens the secondary significantly. Can the Orange still win this game? Absolutely. But I can’t see a way for a SU victory if more starters go down on that side of the ball.

Mike: Who’s under center for SU?

Dino Babers didn’t give any indication on if Garrett Shrader would be back on Saturday, or if Carlos Del Rio-Wilson will make his first career start. Depending on who ends up at QB, we could see two very different versions of the Orange offense. Shrader’s legs were missed in the 1st half against Notre Dame, and if he is closer to full health this weekend, his ability to scramble and keep plays alive can help wear down the Pitt D. CDRW meanwhile looked like a gunslinger, spreading the ball around and connecting on some deep passes. His rocket arm can allow him to throw into tight windows and get receivers not named Oronde Gadsden involved,

That’s what we’re looking for on Saturday, tell us what you’ve got an eye on.