Syracuse Football Returns Home against Purdue Saturday, Attempts 3-0 Start
Syracuse has been clicking on all cylinders to begin 2022. The Orange's average margin of victory through two weeks has been 29 points. While SU has largely been flying under the radar in the national media, head coach Dino's Babers' crew received top-25 votes in the coaches poll after both its wins. Perhaps the biggest story of them all has been the quarterback play, headlined by second-year starter Garrett Shrader.
Shrader has a Pro Football Focus grade of 94, giving him the second highest mark among all quarterbacks. Last week, the dual-threat QB tossed for a career-high 292 yards, while also rushing for an additional two touchdowns. Overall, his efficiency has been off the charts, with a 79% completion percentage on eleven yards per attempt, all while not committing a single turnover through the first two weeks.
“When you’re throwing the ball like that, good things are gonna happen,” Babers said. “I’m not gonna get caught up with what happened last year. I’m really caught up with what’s happening this year.”
This game against Purdue will almost certainly be a tougher challenge for Shrader and the offense in general, at least when compared to UConn. The Boilermakers won nine games last season and gave up a little over 200 passing yards-per-game. This year, Purdue has been even better defending the pass, however the numbers are slightly misleading.
Last week, Purdue clobbered Indiana State 56-0, giving up just 145 total yards, 94 of which came through the air; week one was a different story for the Boilermakers. In that contest, Penn State marched up and down the field for a 35-31 road victory. Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford tossed for 282 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner with 0:57 left. That performance earned the redshirt senior Big-Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors.
“This one hurts, because this was a really good football team that we haven’t beaten in a long time, and we had it right in our grasp,” Purdue Head Coach Jeff Brohm said. “We just weren’t able to close the deal.”
The Purdue pass-defense was projected to be better this year with corners Jamari Brown and Cory Trice, who tore his ACL last October. However, the Boilermakers lost one massive piece from last season: pass rusher George Karlaftis, who now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. With him in the NFL, the SU offensive line should have an easier time holding up which will give Shrader more time to solve the Purdue back-end.
It’s hard to argue many faults in Shrader’s play so far, but with great play comes great expectations. Purdue has a solid secondary and if the pass-rush gets home, it’ll be difficult for the junior to execute the offense. If Shrader wants to prove he’s truly turned a corner, now is the time to start.
“The one thing you have to be careful of when you have a talent like Garrett [Shrader] is you have to take the good with the bad,” Coach Babers said. "You can’t get upset when he tries to make a play.”
Syracuse faces Purdue Saturday at noon from the JMA Wireless Dome. Countdown to Kickoff begins at 11:30 A.M. on the original home of the Orange, WAER.