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Syracuse football: Five things to watch vs UConn

Saturday night’s alright for football

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Louisville at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange look to keep the momentum going when they travel to face the UConn Huskies on Saturday night. Can the Orange avoid looking past the Huskies? Here’s what we’re watching...

Kevin- Tony White vs a freshman QB

Injury has forced Zion Turner into the starting role for the Huskies. If the Orange can slow down the UConn running game it can allow Tony White to let things fly to confuse the young quarterback. Syracuse got back to their turnover ways last week against Malik Cunningham and if they can get to Turner early they can allow for some of the back-ups to see extended time in the second half.

Steve - (Right side of the ) Line development in week two

I don’t bite the hand that feeds. I’m expected to talk line and there’s a lot to look into. Primarily the right side of the offensive line. Chris Bleich and Dakota Davis didn’t look the part this past weekend, but can rebound a bit with a downgrade in personnel they’re facing. Connecticut doesn’t have anyone the quality of Yasir Abdullah, so the tale of the tape is what the Orange can do to minimize penalties and improve the play of Bleich in pass protection. Davis may have been a function of playing at game speed in a new positions. It would also be nice to see the second stringers get some real run out there.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 03 CCSU at UConn Photo by Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Christian - The Run Game

This applies to both sides of the ball. For the offense, we know what Syracuse is getting with Sean Tucker and Garrett Shrader. The question now becomes can Robert Anae continue the balancing act of each player’s workload and passing the ball like he did through the first three and a half quarters against Louisville. Making sure Tucker and Shrader don’t get too overworked in a game that Syracuse should win is going to be important. On the opposite side of the field, the defensive line had its ups and downs against the Cardinals rushing attack. UConn counters with Nathan Carter, a running back who has already rushed for over 300 yards this year and over 100 yards in each game. We know the defensive line looked impressive in the pass rush, but now its time to start some positive momentum in run defense.

Mike - Maximilian Mang and Derek McDonald in starter roles

This point’s probably been beaten to death in less than a week, but I’ll say it one more time - losing Chris Elmore and Stefon Thompson for the year will have a serious effect on how both sides of the ball operate. This is an opportunity for both Mang and McDonald to adjust to their increased playing time. Mang did see the field in every game last year and filled in for Elmore previously, so it’s less of a transition for him. The looming decision is whether he’ll primarily remain a blocker or if he could see some targets in the new offense. McDonald is the bigger question mark. He had an interception last week, but it remains to be seen how he’ll handle the pressure of the starting job, especially against tougher opponents later on. A strong performance here would be a major confidence booster.

Andy - Rotation players in the front six

One of the most impressive things about the season opening win was the performance of the defensive line and rotational linebackers that were a glaring depth concern for the Orange. One game doesn’t resolve issues, but at least shows that Tony White’s side of the ball can change a lot from one season to the next. UConn should provide an opportunity for players like Denis Jacquez Jr, Austin Roon, Anwar Sparrow, Leon Lowrey and Chase Simmons to play significant snaps and show they can be as impactful as Kevon Darton and Derek McDonald were in the win.

That’s what we’re watching for, what are you going to be focused on in this one?