With the UConn Huskies getting ready to host longtime rival Syracuse at Rentschler Field, we had the chance to exchange some Q&A with our counterparts who run Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, the Syracuse SB Nation site. You can read our answers to their questions here.
1) Dino Babers and Syracuse won 10 games in 2018 but haven’t gotten close to that since. What have been the issues over the last three seasons and how hot is Babers’ seat this year?
The issues have been mostly injuries and really poor offensive play. Syracuse became very predictable and injuries on the offensive line stifled the passing game. Last year the team was in a lot of games late but couldn’t find their way to grab the 6th win. Babers’ seat is hot but reports of a $10m buyout have certainly been dropped to put that fire out. Everyone in Syracuse would love to get back to a bowl game this year and not have to face that decision.
2) I am hearing that RB Sean Tucker is good. Can you confirm? How does your new offensive coordinator plan on maximizing his abilities?
We are pleased to confirm that Sean Tucker is in fact very good. New offensive coordinator Robert Anae vowed to get him more involved in the passing game and after having 20 receptions in 2021, Tucker opened up with 6 against Louisville. Syracuse wants to get him a lot of touches but they want to put him in space where he can be a bigger threat.
3) What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Orange defense and who are the key names to know on that side?
The weakness is up front where the Orange are replacing all 3 starters on the defensive line. An injury to Stefon Thompson hurts the linebacking group so the secondary becomes the strength of the defense. Mikel Jones is the leader on defense and he’s a big reason the Orange slowed Malik Cunningham last week, but watch for the two corners- Garrett Williams and Duce Chestnut. Syracuse plays them in a lot of man situations and both guys are heading towards NFL careers.
4) UConn appears to be particularly shaky in the secondary. How strong is the Syracuse passing attack with QB Garrett Schrader?
That’s a good question. Shrader looked to be improved last week and he hit a lot of passes in the 7-10 yard range over the middle. The Orange do lack a true #1 receiver so it will be interesting to see if UConn dares Shrader to beat them over the top or if they sit in a zone and force Syracuse to work their way down the field.
5) Syracuse football had a .769 win percentage in 2018. Syracuse men’s basketball has not had a winning percentage that high since 2013-2014. Is it safe to say that Syracuse is now a football school?
After last week’s 5-0 win in Storrs, let’s say that Syracuse is a futbol school. Seriously though, there is enough concern about men’s basketball that while Syracuse isn’t a football school, a strong season on the gridiron could certainly close the gap.