Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone has stressed to his players that they have to work hard for victories. That's important since this weekend's game is against a less than stellar opponent, the Stony Brook Seawolves (2-0).
It's easy for SU fans to think of this game as an automatic win, but we should all know by now that anything can happen in college football.
Sean Keeley of Nunesmagician.com called SU the best 0-2 team in the nation. Its two losses have been close games and one should have been a win, but there was a questionable late hit call. SU has had some good drives that have showed how explosive its offense can be. The defense showed good pass rush against Northwestern and held USC's offense in relative check for most of the game.
Despite how you feel about SU's performance the past two weeks, the Seawolves are 2-0. Here is the good and the bad going into this Saturday's game.
1. Jeremiah Kobena is injured. Last season he was mainly a special teams guy; this season he has had 5 catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns in two games. That takes away an option for Ryan Nassib and means Jarrod West and Christopher Clark will have bigger roles this week. It also means the starting kickoff returner is out; Marrone has said that Steve Rene will most likely take his place.
2. Syracuse is allowing 42 points a game this season; it's about to go up against a team that is averaging 63 points a game. Yes, Stony Brook put up 77 points on Pace, which is a Division II team. Games like that pad the statistics, but it still takes a solid offense to put up 77 points in one game. The defense has to buckle down and not allow the Seawolves to make plays in the red zone.
3. A big part of Stony Brook's offense is the running game. There are four rushers over 100 yards on the squad and the running game has accounted for 13 TDs so far this season. Seawolves coach Chuck Priore says running is the key to his offense: "We're going to worry about what we can control. We're going to focus on what we do well, which is running the ball."
1. Ryan Nassib. He has had his up and downs on the field but he is off to a very good start for SU with 804 yards, six touchdown passes, and three interceptions. When the Orange are in the "no huddle" offense and they push the tempo, Nassib is at his best. That could be key against a defense that hasn't been tested this season.
2. The confidence SU has after holding its own against USC. Sure, they lost. But after last week, 'Cuse knows it's capable of a win.
3. Stony Brook is not a strong passing team. 'Nuff said.
Okay, so knowing all of this, here's our (slightly biased) opinion: SU will win the game. SU's running game should be a serious threat and hopefully Alec Lemon will have a bigger role this week to compliment Marcus Sales. SU should get its first W, but it'll have to earn it.
We're calling it now: The final score will be 35-14, Syracuse.
All Stony Brook stats from Seawolves Athletics.