Syracuse Football kicked off its season with a strong defensive showing. The Orange looks to continue to dominate defensively against Maryland this week on the road. Against Liberty, the Syracuse passing game struggled. Quarterback Tommy Devito passed for 176 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Devito only connected on 17 of his 35 pass attempts. Despite the offensive stall, the Orange defense put up a stout performance. The Flames offense was shut out and held to -4 rushing yards. Coach Dino Baber’s defense totaled eight-team sacks. This week the Orange play Maryland, which opens as the home favorite. Both teams are playing for its second win of the season.
Last week, Maryland crushed their opponent. They won 79-0 and only allowed Howard to gain 68 total yards. Even though the Terrapins were projected to win, it is still impressive that the defense could inflict so much damage. There are two similarities between both team’s defenses. Both shutout their opponents and recorded eight-team sacks. Maryland only allowed one rushing yard which is very similar to the negative yards the Orange allowed against Liberty. Just based on how alike the defensive numbers are, this game is going to be a low-scoring affair.
The difference between these two teams is that the Terrapins know how to put up points through the air. Where Syracuse had zero touchdowns, Maryland had five. The majority of these touchdown passes came from junior quarterback Josh Jackson. Along with the ability to score, Jackson also had a completion percentage of above 60 percent. Jackson is an accurate passer who will give the Orange defense their first true test.
The Terrapins also have a strong ground attack. Their leading back, Jake Funk, averaged 6.6 yards per carry last week. But he was not the only back to get in on the action. All but two of the rushers for the afternoon averaged above four yards per carry.
Another player to watch on Saturday is Maryland’s Sam Okuayinonu. In the season opener, Okuayinonu, recorded seven total tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss. The Syracuse offense only allowed two sacks last week against Liberty. The main reason for that was because Devito threw the ball away on multiple occasions instead of going to the ground. If the Orange offense wants to improve, Devito will have to hold the ball longer. This will give Okuayinonu and the Terrapin defense opportunities to get to the quarterback.
For Syracuse, the goal in this game is to get to the ball moving on offense. Last week, Devito struggled to complete passes and threw multiple interceptions. Moving the ball will help him become more comfortable with the offense. Maryland did not intercept any passes against Howard. Their strength is stopping the run. The Orange should take that as an opportunity to spread the ball around to multiple receivers.
The Syracuse defense should continue to trend in the same direction by stopping the run and causing turnovers. Junior Josh Black will try to repeat his two-sack performance and be a playmaker on this defense. Also, look to sophomore Andre Cisco to create turnovers.