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Syracuse football: what to watch for vs. Purdue

Can the Orange shine under the lights?

Western Michigan v Syracuse Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

The 2-0 Syracuse Orange will get a primetime opportunity to make a statement when they travel to face the 1-1 Purdue Boilermakers. What will we be watching for when we tune in to B1G Saturday Night?

Kevin: Control the big play

Last week the Orange gave up a 75-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game. While that was all the defense allowed, they need to avoid a similar situation on the road. Purdue is going to have a sold-out crowd and the last thing you want is to give them a reason to get engaged. Boilermakers running back Tyrone Tracy has a kickoff return for a touchdown this season and keeping the ball out of his hands in the return game will be a priority. In a game expected to be close, forcing the Boilermakers to have to engage in long drives to get points increases Syracuse’s chances of making the crowd a non-factor.

Dom: Establishing the Orange’s benchmark

We know the drill: Purdue isn’t as great this season compared to last year, but they are at least a Power Five school that’s more talented than either Colgate or Western Michigan. A primetime road game on NBC gives fans a pretty good indicator of how exactly this year’s Syracuse team really is. In particular, with Oronde Gadsden’s status unclear moving forward, how will the rest of the Orange’s receiving options perform against more imposing P5 defenses?

Mike: Break through the mold

Purdue has been phenomenal at stopping the run this year (127 yards allowed) while also struggling mightily against the pass (646 yards allowed). While that logic dictates that Garrett Shrader should be airing the ball out all night, I don’t believe that the Orange should simply abandon half of their offense. LeQuint Allen was really only used in goal-line situations last week but he should get more touches this time, if for nothing more than to keep the Boilermaker defense honest.

Steve: Control the line of scrimmage

We just spoke with the Hammer and Rails folks on the podcast and they’re extremely confident of their front seven on defense. I’m less confident in the Syracuse front five on offense. The Orange need to do enough on the offensive side of the line to allow Shrader to do his thing. Whether that’s find folks downfield as he has this season so far, or use his legs to get himself out of trouble, which it seems he’s held in check this year, he needs to cook. If whatever iteration of the line can hold out, the Orange walk away from this in good shape.

Max: Take advantage of Purdue’s inexperienced coaching staff

First-year head coach Ryan Walters brought on an entirely new Boilermakers coaching staff over the offseason. The slew of additions didn’t look so hot when working their first game together, falling to Fresno State at home. And this time, there will be even more pressure on Purdue when they face a smooth-operating Syracuse team on national television. Dino Babers has played under the bright lights numerous times before and should have no problem handling the nerves of an important game. If he can get SU out to an early lead, it could be too challenging for a rookie staff to overcome.


That’s what we’re looking for, what will you be watching in Saturday night’s game