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Surging Orange Open Conference Play Against Struggling Seminoles

Syracuse running back Sean Tucker evades a tackle in SU’s win over Liberty
Cuse.com
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Syracuse running back Sean Tucker (34) evades a tackle in SU’s win over Liberty

Syracuse Football begins ACC play against winless Florida State. WAER’s Josh Golden examines the hot start for the Orange and why the Seminoles have been unable to do the same.

Through the first four games of the 2021 football season, Syracuse (3-1, 0-0 ACC) has exceeded expectations. The Orange have jumped out to a 3-1 start in their non-conference slate and have already tripled last season’s win total.

This weekend, SU will travel down to Tallahassee to face Florida State (0-4, 0-2 ACC), who has been underachieving so far this season. The Seminoles are off to an 0-4 start on the year, the worst the storied program has seen since 1974.

Because of Florida State’s slow start, SU can expect to face a team that’s desperate to find a win. Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell recently said that “we’re going to work our butts off to get better, and we’re going to do it the right way.”

Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell crouches down for a closer look at his team.
Florida State Athletics
Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell crouches down for a closer look at his team.

Norvell and his squad have a lot to improve upon, as they’ve struggled on both sides of the ball to start the season. They’re only putting up 23 points per game this season and have converted on just 34% of their third downs. On defense, they’ve allowed over 31 points per game, which certainly isn’t a winning formula.

On the other side, SU has been off to a great start and will look to keep the ball rolling as they head into the ACC slate. SU’s offense has been averaging over 30 points per game, but that number is misleading from their 62 point performance against Albany. However, the other side of the ball has been much more impressive for SU. They’re currently top 10 in yards allowed per game and have let up less than 18 points per game.

Syracuse running back Sean Tucker celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown against Liberty.
Cuse.com
Syracuse running back Sean Tucker (34) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown against Liberty.

It’s been a great start for SU, and a lot of their players are crediting the hot start to a change in culture. Sophomore linebacker MIkel Jones said earlier this week that “my first year we didn’t win too many games and my second year we didn’t win a lot, so we realize it starts from everyone being connected, helping the younger guys so they know what the culture is supposed to be like, and it starts from there.”

The change of culture is something that FSU has gone through plenty of times in the past few seasons. Since the departure of Jimbo Fisher after the 2017 season, the Seminoles have had three different head coaches, none of whom seem to have gotten quite comfortable in that role.

If Mike Norvell wants to get things going at Florida State before it’s too late for him, it’ll have to start with a win this Saturday against Syracuse. The Seminoles won the last matchup in 2019 35-17 down in Tallahassee and have won six of the last seven against the Orange.

The lone win for SU against the Noles since they joined the ACC was a massive 30-7 win at the Dome in 2018, just one of SU’s 10 wins that season. Perhaps another big win against the Seminoles can be what helps the Orange kick it into another gear and pull off another memorable season like 2018.

Kickoff from Tallahassee is set for 3:30 p.m. this Saturday. WAER’s coverage gets underway at 3 with GZA Countdown to Kickoff.