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Syracuse football: what to watch for vs Virginia Tech

Metallica intensifies

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 14 Syracuse at Florida State Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange (4-3, 0-3) head into a Thursday night game at the Virginia Tech Hokies (3-4, 2-1). It’s a big game for both programs as they have the spotlight on ESPN. What are we looking for in this one...

Mike: Hold the Line

The Orange won’t succeed unless they can control the tempo on offense, and that ultimately comes down to the offensive line. They’re going up against a beast in DL Antwaun Powell-Ryland (seven sacks, three forced fumbles) and if he consistently gets pressure on Shrader, it’ll be a long night. Mark Petry and Jakob Bradford have the tall task of containing him on the right side.

Dom: Start strong, end stronger

It should be an obvious point, but we’ve discussed numerous times the significance of the Virginia Tech game in how that would determine of the rest of the Orange’s season. Not only is this a great chance to rebuild some momentum following an 0-3 start in the ACC, but there’s clear bowl implications at stake and this is Syracuse’s first game where the talent between both teams is mostly fair. This is not the game to start out slow and try to comeback from an early deficit, especially in an environment like Blacksburg.

Max: Garrett Shrader gets back on track?

Syracuse’s gunslinger has looked nothing like himself over the past three losses. Dino Babers blamed “food poisoning” for Shrader’s 99-yard passing performance against Florida State, but that’s the least of the QB’s problems. Shrader should be at full strength against the Hokies and needs to display his dual-threat ability like he did earlier in the year if the Orange want the dub.

Kevin: Can Orange create havoc?

Syracuse’s defense has not cashed in on turnover opportunities during the losing streak. The Orange have zero interceptions, missed a great chance at a fumble recovery at Florida State and somehow gave up a first down on a blocked punt at UNC (bad spot notwithstanding). Want to get the offense a jump-start again? Get back to the early season takeaways and set them up in prime scoring position. Hokies QB Kyron Drones has 5 TD’s and 0 interceptions in the last four games so breaking that streak would be a huge bonus for Syracuse.

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That’s what we’re looking for, tell us what you’re watching for tomorrow night.