The Orange are failing the test of three after two consecutive losses to Louisville and NC State. The final matchup in this test of three may be their toughest. The Orange face off against #17 Pitt (9-2) at 7:30p.m. on Saturday. The Orange are a win away from bowl contention but they just can’t seem to capitalize. From winning one game last season to five games this season is a huge step. However, winning six games gets the Orange to a bowl game which can provide a major morale boost for the program. How can the Orange beat Pitt? Read here.
Put Pressure on Pickett
The Orange are their best when the opposing team's quarterback is on his back and slow to get up. The last two weeks the Orange defensive line and linebackers failed to get to the quarterback which is a reason they lost both games. In football, you either want a good defensive line or a good secondary. But having neither makes for significant problems on your defense. Syracuse not being able to get to the quarterback in the recent weeks has made it hard on the young Orange secondary. The defense was gelling earlier in the season due to the play of both levels of the defense. But as the competition gets tougher the Orange have hit a stalemate on the defensive side of the ball.
If the Orange want to win this game they have to stop Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett. Pickett is the best quarterback in the ACC, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. His ability to remain poised in the pocket and deliver the football with people surrounding him only makes this task tougher for the Orange. Getting there will not affect Pickett but finishing the play with a sack will do so.
Understand Pitt Will Not Beat Themselves
The common occurrence of a team beating themselves or deliberately losing a game is not in Pitt’s forte. Pitt does not turn the ball over and they will not fall into the trap of meaningless penalties. If you want to beat Pitt, you have to do so outright. Syracuse is ranked first in rushing in the ACC. But Pitt is ranked first in defending the run. Last week, Syracuse failed to run the ball against the stout NC State defense and will face a similar challenge this week. What the Orange plan to do… we may never know till game time. But it has to be different because Pitt simply will not lose this game unless the Orange physically beats them.
Play Syracuse Football
This is the last guaranteed chance this season that Syracuse football gets the chance to display what playing “Syracuse football” means. A win will give the Orange another week to carve out their identity. And a loss will provide more questions from the media and fans in the community about the direction of this team. Therefore, a win would silence all of the outside noise the Orange are hearing. When the Orange win, supposedly “Syracuse football” is played. What we can take away from those games is that Sean Tucker carried the team on his back and the defensive line and linebackers made plays by getting to the quarterback. If the Orange can do these two things successfully they have a shot at winning the game. If they don’t this game will get out of hand quickly.