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Syracuse football: four things to watch vs Virginia

Legends are often made under the Friday Night Lights

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 Purdue at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange look to go 4-0 for the first time since 2018 and to do that they will have to beat the Virginia Cavaliers tomorrow night. This is Virginia’s first Dome appearance since 2005 and we share what we’re watching for in this Friday night feature.

Christian - No edge, no chance

A lot of focus is going to be put on Brennan Armstrong, and for good reason. But the sneaky ability that casual fans don’t know is that Armstrong can run as well. So Syracuse has to bring the house, much like they did against Aiden O’Connell and Purdue in the second half. The concern then becomes edge contain. We know Mikel Jones is going to have the middle locked down. It now rests on the defensive ends to prevent Armstrong from getting around the tackles to turn nothing into something. Same goes for the corners, who at times this season have had trouble shedding wide receiver blocks. Bring pressure, but protect the edge.

Mike - Corners playing Man Coverage

Last time out we saw Garrett Williams struggle to contain Purdue’s top dog Charlie Jones all game long. Now he and Duce Chestnut will have the trio of Dontayvion Wicks, Keytaon Thompson. and Lavel Davis Jr. to contend with. Wicks and Thompson both had phenomenal seasons last year and have started out on similar tracks, while the 6’7” Davis is emerging as Virginia’s deep-ball threat. If Christian is right and the Orange consistently blitz Armstrong, then these one-on-one matchups are the key to slowing down the Cavs’ offense. It’ll be especially challenging when this WR core is built to win 50/50 matchups with their height.

Steve - Get Tucker moving

This probably seems obvious as he’s Sean Tucker, and needs to be a cornerstone of this offense, but coming off a relative down week against Purdue, it’s imperative to set the tone. The offensive line hasn’t looked as good as they could without the assistance of Chris Elmore ahead of Mr. Tucker. They either need to pave the way or have the backup fullbacks/tight ends pick up the pace and move around some of the Virginia folks to open some lanes. Maybe that allows Tucker break a few of those long runs he’s been missing this season (passes notwithstanding).

Kevin- Mining the middle

In the first two weeks Garrett Shrader feasted on throws in the middle of the field. Last weekend Purdue limited him to 1-5 on throws between 10 and 20 yards between the hash marks. This lead to more passes to the sidelines and a lower completion percentage so I’m curious to see how Syracuse adjusts this week. Even the final drive saw Shrader unsuccessfully throwing outside until the final play where Oronde Gadsden II was able to work inside-out on a nice corner route. Could this be a week where we see more plays early to the outside to push the safeties wide and get the middle to become available?


That’s what we’re watching for, now tell us what you think will be a key in tomorrow night’s game.