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Wake Forest Football Preview: Syracuse Orange

For the final home game of the season, the Deacs will face Atlantic rival Syracuse on Senior Day. The last few years have been quite difficult for Orange; after winning 10 games and reaching No. 12 in the AP Top 25 in 2018, Syracuse has only won 11 games overall over the past 3 seasons. Despite this, 2 of the last 3 games Wake has played against the Orange have gone to overtime, with both teams earning a win in the last game of the game. It will be nice to finally get to play against Syracuse at home again, as the Deacs have played 3 straight road games against the Orange in the Carrier Dome.

Instantaneous

  • Opponent: Syracuse
  • Date: Saturday, November 19, 2022
  • Location: Truist Field | Winston Salem, North Carolina
  • Total Vegas Insider wins: 5
  • 2021 record: 5-7 (2-6)
  • Previous match: Wake 40—Cuse 37 (2021)
  • all time against WakeForest: 6-5

The Oranges weren’t a very good offensive team last season. Syracuse finished the season 91st in the nation with 25 points per game and 93rd in the nation with just 367 yards per game. They were a very good rushing team, however, finishing in the top 20 in the nation in rushing yards per game (214), yards per rush (5.3) and rushing touchdowns per game (2.3). It was pretty evident against Wake Forest last season, where the Orange ran the ball 58 times for a season-high 354 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The rushing offense for Syracuse is basically a two-man attack with QB Garrett Shrader and RB Sean Tucker. Tucker is an absolute star and has become one of the best running backs in the country. In 2021, he rushed for nearly 1,500 yards, 12 touchdowns and over 6 yards per carry to break Syracuse’s single-season rushing record. He ran for 100+ yards 9 times last season and scored in 8 of Orange’s 12 games. After his record-breaking season, Tucker was named an AP Preseason All-American and was ranked No. 15 on ESPN’s list of the 100 Best College Football Players for 2022. I don’t know if it’s possible to completely stop Tucker, but he’s absolutely the guy teams will have to focus on slowing down if they’re going to beat the Orange this season.

At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Garrett Shrader isn’t exactly the most elusive player out there, but he’s a big, physical runner who’s tough to knock down in open terrain – his height has helped him rush nearly 800 yards and a team 14 touchdowns in 2021. He’s not a great passer (he only completed 52% of his passes for 1,500 yards last season), which is perfectly fine because Syracuse ran the ball on more than 63% of its games last year. His best game with the ball last year came against – you guessed it – Wake Forest, where he ran the ball 29 times for 178 yards and a touchdown. Obviously, the Deacs had a little trouble knocking him down.

Apart from the duo of Tucker and Shrader leading the ball, the Orange really had nothing else up front. This duo combined for 89% of the Orange’s rushing yards and 93% of rushing touchdowns. The passing game was pretty lackluster; Courtney Jackson was the team’s only receiver to catch more than 25 passes and led the team with 389 yards and 3 touchdowns. It should be noted that Jackson is also an excellent punt returner, averaging 18 yards per return and fetching 1 home last season. Hopefully the Deacs don’t kick a lot in this game, but if they do, keep an eye out for Jackson.

On defense, Syracuse was actually pretty solid last season. The Orange gave up just about 26 points and 332 yards per game last season, ranking 65th and 21st respectively in the nation. It was a huge turnaround from 2020, when Syracuse had one of the worst defenses in the nation, allowing opponents to rack up more than 460 yards per game. Some of that improvement was helped by the previously mentioned rushing offense, as the defense stayed on the field much less in 2021. Still, in terms of average yards per play, Syracuse had a top-30 defense on the season. Another part of that turnaround was junior linebacker Mikel Jones, who was 1st team All-ACC last season with 109 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. .

Prediction

At this point in this season, we’ll probably know whether or not the Deacs have figured out how to stop the run. Wake was one of the worst teams in the nation last season against the run, which allowed Syracuse to match one of the best offenses in the nation without having to put the ball in the air. Syracuse is a pretty one-dimensional team, so if Wake can even slow down the rushing offense a bit, they really should be able to stop the Orange from scoring over 30 points again this season. The senior night boost and being home gives the Deacs a win in this one, unless the defense has somehow gotten worse against the run than it was last night. last season. I don’t think that will be the case.