|Posted on November 17, 2017 at 3:15 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
The Syracuse Orange are coming off of one of the most emotionally draining losses a player may go through in their career, to have a substantial lead and watch it dwindle down to not only nothing, but rather build up to a more-than-substantial loss.
Syracuse was ahead by as many as 17 points against the visiting Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Atlantic Division rival, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and concluded behind 21 points in a 38-point swing in Week 11 of the 2017 college football season.
Following the 38-point swing, Dino Babers, in his second season as head coach of the team stated, "Obviously we're hurt, a little embarrassed. I don't think that's a true representation of how our defense has played this year. I throw it beneath the happening category and hopefully we're gonna play a lot better versus an even more explosive offense than what we faced against Wake Forest."
The Orange allowed 734 yards of total offense to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons a game ago, which included over 360 yards given up in the passing (363 yards) as well as in the rushing game (371 yards).
Against an offense built on getting to the line quickly and running a play and then doing that over and over again to hurry up the pressure on the defense to get set and ready for whatever can be throw at them, Syracuse was outplayed by Wake Forest.
It turns out the taste of their own medicine was sour.
Demon Deacons' quarterback John Wolford scored three touchdowns through the air and three on the ground versus the Orange, and the present to the Orange after losing so much ground against Wolford is to head on the road to face one of the best in the business at being a dual-threat quarterback, Louisville Cardinals' junior Lamar Jackson.
Giving up six total touchdowns to Wolford creates the very tangible notion that Jackson should then score eight to 10 touchdowns of his own versus Syracuse.
Last season, Babers first at the helm of the Orange, the team gave up just shy of 200 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground to Jackson, to go with one given up through the air by Jackson, in a 62-28 loss.
But, Syracuse has a dual-threat quarterback as well in fellow junior Eric Dungey.
Well, kind of.
Dungey has been a saving grace for the team, but he did not play against Wake Forest and is listed officially as questionable for this match-up with the Cardinals.
In the event that he does not play, backup quarterback and senior Zack Mahoney would take the reins of the offense for the second week in a row.
Looking at Mahoney's play versus the Demon Deacons, Babers offered, "You can look at that first half and you see what Zack is capable of doing." In the first half versus Wake Forest, Mahoney threw for 297 yards, completing 22 of his 35 attempts, with three passing touchdowns and no interceptions.
"He's got a Pittsburgh game from last year," Babers went on to say. "He's got the first half of the Wake Forest game this year. Obviously when he's on we're capable of scoring a lot of points with him." Against the Pittsburgh Panthers last season, in a game that resembled more of a basketball score than a football result, Mahoney completed 43 of his 61 pass attempts for 440 yards, with five touchdowns to one interception.
"Now you can flip that around and say the second half of the Wake Forest game, we only scored three points with him, so hopefully we get first-half Zack and not second-half Zack." Mahoney was 11-for-25 in the second half versus Wake Forest. with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Turning the focus onto himself, Babers replied to what he learned from the 38-point that ended in a loss for the Orange by saying, "Well I think the biggest thing is that we have to find a situation to play more people. We're playing the same guys over and over again. They're getting banged up and they're starting to look different, not only on the football field, but on tape."
"We've gotta get more people in there, especially when you don't have the depth that we have on our football team. When you got the amount of snaps that you're playing offensively and defensively, you gotta find a way to rotate that stuff in there, rotate those guys in there, so that at the end of the game you can have your best players fresh."