The Syracuse Orange is set to embark on an important 2021 season for the direction of the program. The season opens with a road matchup against the Ohio Bobcats. How does Syracuse come away with a victory? Here are my three keys to an Orange win.
Stop the Run
The Ohio offense can be balanced however for their offense to function effectively, they rely heavily on their running game. Running back, De’Montre Tuggle will lead the helm for Ohio in the rushing attack. The emphasis on the rushing attack is evident in their now new head coach, Tim Albin, who was previously the offensive coordinator at Ohio for 15 years. Albin has a history of making Ohio a ground and pound team. Players such as Tuggle, Armani Rogers, Kurtis Rourke, and Isiah Cox will be major factors for the Orange to stop.
The linebackers for the Orange have an important role in this game. If the backers can stop Tuggle from breaking the second and third level runs, the Orange should be in good shape to win this game. Limiting the amount of explosion plays will go a long way for this Orange defense. Marlowe Wax, Mikel Jones, and Stefon Thompson have to fill their gaps and remain physical the entire game. Teams who want to run the ball, want to control the clock. In other words, look for Ohio to slow the game down and try to outlast Syracuse.
Win the Special Teams Battle
Ohio welcomes transfer kicker, Stephen Johnson from Oklahoma. Johnson replaces Tristian Vandenburg who has proved time and time again that he will miss kicks… very important kicks. With the new addition on special teams, Ohio looks to capitalize on the failed field goals and PAT attempts it missed last season. Although scoring field goals and PAT's is essential to winning games, it is not the only part of special teams. If the Orange can win the field position battle in their kickoff and punt coverage, they should be on their way to victory. When Syracuse kicker Andre Smzyt gets the call to kick field goals, he has to make them.
Score 21 or more
Averaging 17.82 points per game in college football will not win you any games. That is what Syracuse did last season. You have to score 21 or more to give yourself a realistic chance. Look for an improvement on offense this year with DeVito more poised in the pocket and a potential two quarterback system underway. The Ohio defensive backs are not physical, so if Taj Harris breaks free or any of the Orange running backs hit the third level expect a touchdown to be scored. The Orange need to be better on offense and Ohio is the place to do it.