Our Syracuse Orange football schedule preview rolls on with a third straight home game. Following a Friday night clash with Virginia, SU will get a break against an FCS opponent. Since this is a gimme game, we’re going to fly through this team as quickly as we expect the Orange to.
School: Wagner College
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Conference: Northeast (NEC)
History vs. Syracuse: The Seahawks have only played the Orange twice in their history. Both games were blowout SU wins, with the scores being 54-0 in 2013 and 62-10 in 2018. The former was the first game in the Dome after Syracuse joined the ACC.
Coach: Tom Masella, third season. To say Masella has gotten off to a rocky start is an understatement. The Seahawks have gone 0-13 since he took the job. Things came full circle for Tom when he became the Seahawks’ HC: He grew up on Staten Island, played football for Wagner in college, and took his first coaching position there after graduating. After that, it was a roundabout journey back, with stops at Merchant Marine, Boston University, UConn, Louisiana Tech, UMass, Central Connecticut, and Fordham. He took an assistant position in 2012 but later left to return to UMass, and then Bryant. Finally, he accepted the head coach spot prior to 2020. His lifetime coaching record is 44-79.
2021 Record: (0-11) (0-7)
Recapping Last Season:
It was a year to forget for Staten Island’s football team. They opened the season by getting trounced 69-7 at Buffalo, then lost to Central Connecticut State by only two in the home opener. The losses just kept piling up from there. Wagner did manage to take Delaware State into OT before dropping their fifth in a row. The final two games of the year were the worst; the Seahawks did not put points on the board for over 120 minutes to close out the (im)perfect season.
Wagner had the worst passing attack in the conference, due in large part to the o-line giving up 39 sacks on the year. Senior Jaalon Frazier could do little under center, throwing for 624 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Rickey Spruill rushed for 489 yards and 3 TDs, while Naiem Simmons had 271 receiving yards and a TD.
Leo Titus provided some excitement on defense with 71 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks. He earned NEC Defensive Player of the Year for the second time as a result. Another senior, Ahmad Lyons, had two picks. Kicker Austin Hosier was 4/7 on FG tries.
2022 Season Outlook:
There’s nowhere to go but up. The out of conference schedule has Wagner hosting Fordham to start the year, along with traveling to Rutgers, Syracuse, and across the bay to Columbia. Unlike the ACC, the NEC has all eight football teams play each other once, meaning seven conference games.
Guenson Alexis saw extended playing time at QB in the second half of the season and found himself scrambling a lot. Whether that was intentional or because his line just couldn’t block for him remains to be seen. Now a sophomore, he is the favorite to start, with local guy Quincy Guy-Barnes backing him up as a fifth-year. Grad-student Chris Collier should take over as the primary back. Simmons is still atop the depth chart at WR.
Titus is also using his graduate year of eligibility to return, so he’ll be the most double-teamed player on the defense. Tre Vallar will line up beside him at LB as a second pass-rushing option. Lyons and much of the secondary are gone; junior Christian Davis looks to handle the top matchups moving forward.
Syracuse Game Date: Saturday, October 1
Location: JMA Wireless Dome, Syracuse, New York
Odds of Orange Victory: 99.99%
Very Early Outlook vs. Syracuse:
A game against a Power 5 program should be a three-score loss at minimum for most FCS squads. Considering that this is a team with a 20-game losing streak going up against one of the best running backs in college football, and the prior history between the two schools, it could quickly turn into a lot, lot more than that. If the impossible happens, I will have to enter the freelance writers’ transfer portal while Syracuse turns the Dome into some version of this in preparation for returning to the Big East.