Opponent: Syracuse orange
Date: Saturday, October 2
Last Matchup: 35-17, Florida State
The 2020 season did not see a matchup between the Seminoles and the Syracuse Orange. With a new season approaching and new additions for both teams, this match is sure to be a great reunion for both.
Including the 2019 win, the Seminoles have won all but 1 game against Syracuse in the past four years giving them an 86.8% power advantage. But this meeting at Doak Campbell will be far from easy. Especially with the Orange adding Garrett Shrader, a quarterback transfer from Mississippi State to their roster; a move that will bring dimension to the team’s offense.
Having a fighting chance will come down to Syracuse’s wide receivers and their offense coming into place with the right players matched in the right positions. Taj Harris leads the pass catchers with 135 passes received since 2018. Managing to put up competitive stats in the ACC with an offense that was in shambles shows how dynamic some of the elements of Syracuse’s offense can be. Harris has only more opportunities for improvement as he adjusts to the system Dino Barbers has for the Orange. Once the best fit is found, his role along with Anthony Queeley’s could be cause for trouble.
Standing 6’2 with a 200lb frame, Queeley was Syracuse’s second most frequently targeted wide receiver, catching 37 passes for 378 yards last year. His stature and down-field capabilities could see him converting more passes to scores. Syracuse also has plenty of talent in their youth ranks. Luke Benson, a sophomore, managed to finish with one-hundred seventy-five yards and three touchdowns on just eight catches. Former Tight End, now Fullback Chris Elmore continues to serve as the glue for the offensive line, carrying the ball last year twenty-eight times for sixty-five yards and three touchdowns.
With a few games are under their belt to start the season, do not be surprised to see some new things from this offensive line come game day.
On the other side of the ball, defense for Syracuse will have help with defensive ends Josh Black and Caleb Okechukwu. Black, a defensive lineman that in five seasons has collected 120 tackles, 18 for loss, 7.5 sacks and two blocked kicks can create game changing situations. In 2020, he started all 11 games at defensive tackle which should be no surprise with the versatility displayed. Okechukwu also appeared in all 11 games along the defensive line making 14 tackles and one sack. The two of them combined will help build momentum for the offense.
With the various changes taking place on both sides of the ball for Syracuse, we could see an interesting game played out against Florida State. FSU could see some tests from Syracuse’s defensive line and if so, hopefully will use the game to clean up any loose ends. Both teams will have the opportunity to showcase young talent and the work that was done during the offseason but only one will walk from Doak with the W.