Scouting Syracuse: How The Tigers Win
1. Weather the storm: There's little doubt that the Carrier Dome will be rocking for Syracuse's ACC debut. Matched against the ACC's preseason favorites, the Orange will be well-prepared and hyped up to spring an upset. Dabo Swinney and his players are becoming increasingly comfortable with playing as a favorite, and it's not unlikely they'll need to hang in there for a while before getting things rolling their way. As Swinney said last week, another victory like the one Clemson scored in Raleigh will be just what the doctor ordered.
2. Run, and stop the run: Syracuse has produced a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the past five seasons, and the Orange returns a good one in Jerome Smith. If Syracuse can run the football, it will set up a passing game that hit its stride in lopsided wins over Wagner and Tulane. Likewise, Syracuse will build its defensive game plan on stopping Clemson's running game. The Orange rank fourth in the ACC in rushing defense, allowing just 109 yards per game and 3.1 yards per rush. It will be a battle of wills to control the line of scrimmage. If the Tigers can impose theirs, they'll be well on their way to another important ACC road victory.
3. Dominate special teams: The Tigers have a significant advantage in the field goal game, with Chandler Catanzaro practically money in the bank and Syracuse struggling to find a replacement for its injured starter. Bradley Pinion's part will come in keeping the ball out of the hands of Syracuse's capable return men. And the Tigers are way overdue for a couple of breakout returns of their own.
4. Pick up the blitz: Chad Morris says he expects to face more pass-rush pressure this week than in any game this season, and perhaps since he's been at Clemson. Syracuse will blitz from all position and any spot in the field. "They love to bring more than you've got," Morris said on Monday. "If they could blitz 12, they'd blitz 12."