The top tanked Tigers hit the road for the first time this season as they make the trip north to the Carrier Dome to face 1-1 Syracuse. The Orange will be playing their first home game of the season in front of a sellout crowd for the first time in over two decades.
Clemson has not lost to an ACC team since their last trip to upstate New York in 2017, when the Orange knocked of the Tigers 27-24. They came close to pulling off the feat again last season in Death Valley, but could not contain Travis Etienne in the second half and the Tigers escaped with a 27-23 win.
In both games, the Tigers lost their starting QB in the second quarter, and make no mistake that is something the Clemson offensive lineman seem to be taking personally. Listening to Tremayne Anchrum doing a segment on local radio station WCCP on Tuesday, it is clear he does. It would seem this is a game these guys have had circled on the calendar for quite some time. With this group of guys taking it personally, don’t look for Orange defenders putting to much pressure on the Tigers triggerman.
The Orange seem to be having more trouble than some thought they would having to replace so much LB and OL experience, as well as replacing QB Eric Dungey. The transition over to Tommy Devito has been a little bumpier than expected through the seasons first two games, and if the Orange are to get it turned around, Devito must step up his game.
The biggest issue so far for Syracuse seems to be at LB. They have been playing with a lot of 4-2-5 looks instead of the more preferred 4-3 for that very reason. Against Maryland, in which the Orange got steamrolled 63-20, the backers had tons of trouble not biting on play fakes, allowing the Terps plenty of success in the passing game. They weren’t much better against the run, consistently getting caught out of position or being a step late. However Syracuse chooses to go about defending the Clemson offense, look for the Tigers to try and take advantage of the weakness at LB, and expose the middle of the field.
After Maryland racked up 350 rushing yards against this Orange defense, expect to see a heavy dose of Etienne. If they choose to stack the box similar to what A&M did against the Tigers and they are able to slow the running game, look for Trevor Lawrence to expose those LB weaknesses and soften up the middle of that defense, in turn opening up more running lanes.
The Orange returns its secondary pretty much intact, and it was a pretty strong group last season. However, a lot of that was due to how good the pass rush was, which allowed them to take more risks. They can still get after the passer some, but the pass rush isn’t what it was last season, meaning those corners will have to stay in coverage longer, and that is not a recipe for success against this elite group of Clemson wideouts.
The Tigers opened up as 24.5 point favorites and that line has now moved to Clemson +28. I expect Syracuse to play better in their first home game than they did against Maryland, but it won’t matter. The only question in this one is whether on not the Tigers cover….. Clemson 41 Syracuse 13
We asked for some of your predictions over on the Junkies Facebook page and thought we would share a few of those here.
Not very surprisingly, not a one of you picked the Orange…..
Kenny Jackson 48-10
Joey Rogers 49-3
Kyle Reynolds 24-21
Samuel Clemons 35-21
Cheryl Lee 38-10
Ray Lundy 45-17
Chuck Courtnay 38-31
Lorraine Dixon 48-24
Alan Stalnaker 35-17
Dale Prince 45-10
Most of you, like me are expecting the blowout. Go Tigers!