FSU Football 2021 Opponent Preview: Syracuse
Jaleel McRae runs-down a Syracuse player in their 2019 home matchup. Photo: wlpearce.com

FSU Football 2021 Opponent Preview: Syracuse

The Seminoles are back in Doak, ready to compete against the Syracuse Orange.

With the season fast approaching, and College Football rolling full-steam ahead with current scheduling and formatting, fans are eager to hit the stands and cheer on their favorite team. 2021 is a year of much anticipation after the Coronavirus pandemic crippled schedules and limited capacity in stadiums. The Florida State Seminoles were one such program affected by the 2020 season. Several games were cancelled, rivalries were sidelined, and a new coaching staff was stalled in their ability to effectively recruit and implement their scheme.

Drama ensued, injuries took course, and opt-outs effectively hindered what amounts to a legitimate Year 0 in the Norvell era. Think of 2020 as a glorified practice run. Going 3-6 (out of 11 games), the year showed the mountain set before this staff and program in their CLIMB back to the top. Still, there were highlights and gradual improvement over the course of the season, and legitimate offseason hype as the ‘Noles are seemingly back-on-track.

The offseason is still in-effect across College Football, but with the recruiting dead period now over, a season in 2020 to evaluate personnel and conditions within the program, and a vision now to sell to the team, the fans, and recruits, it is fair to say that 2021 is Mike Norvell’s Year 1.

The training wheels are off, and for the Seminole faithful, it’s now time to preview our upcoming season’s opponents.

Game Five: Syracuse

Head Coach: Dino Babers (Head Coach record of 61-52 in Collegiate Football)

Mascot: Otto the Orange

Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference

2020 Record: 1-10

History vs Florida State: While the Syracuse Orange is the older of the two programs, they don’t have much else going for them with regards to these two teams. The Seminoles hold a decisive 11-2 edge over Syracuse in the all-time series. The sole wins going for the Orange came in their first bout back in 1966, and a lopsided blowout in 2018. Otherwise, the ‘Noles have dominated every other matchup between these two programs in (mostly) decisive fashion. It should be noted that Mike Norvell has yet to face Dino Babers and the Syracuse Orange while serving as the head coach at Florida State.

Orange Storylines to Follow:

Can the Offensive Line Improve?

If you think Florida State has problems along the offensive line, well… we still have problems along the offensive line. That being said, they aren’t anywhere near as bad as what Syracuse has gone through these past few seasons. To put the 2020 season into perspective, Syracuse gave up 3.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss per game, and the offense as a whole averaged less than 20 points per game. The Orange return a tremendous amount of players along the offensive line, which is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic extending scholarships across programs nationwide. The question Syracuse fans must ask themselves is whether this returning production can be coached up and molded into a cohesive unit throughout the 2021 campaign. If so, the offensive weapons are there to pull some upsets. If not, Dino Baber’s seat might get a bit toasty up in New York.

Some Talent at Quarterback

Tommy DeVito is back for another season with Syracuse. Most Seminoles might remember him as the back-up quarterback who tore the ‘Noles to shreds in 2018. However, since that game he, himself, has faced his far share of scrapes and injuries. In 2020, DeVito was struck with a season ending lower-left leg injury against the Duke Bluedevils. Thanks to less-than-stellar play along the offensive line, the signature tempo offense Dino Babers typically executes has been hampered with injuries at quarterback and other skill positions. Still, DeVito brings knowledge of the offense and should be considered the starter entering the regular season. Keep him healthy, and Syracuse stands a chance to score points against most ACC competition. If not, transfer quarterback Garrett Shrader (formerly of Mississippi State) can step-in to run the offense. While he hasn’t played since 2019, he should be versed enough in the offense by this point to provide serviceable play calling capabilities.

The Defense MUST Stop the Run

Syracuse has the pieces to an offense that can be dynamic and put up points. None of that matters unless the defense can make stops in critical junctures. Unfortunately for the Orange, the defense has been anything-but this past season, especially in regards to run defense. They allowed 209 yards per game, allowing 24 running touchdowns along the way. Syracuse is returning a sizable amount of production on defense, but like the offensive line, the defensive makeup of this team will need to figure out how to stop opposing offenses from running all over the field. If teams can run all day, the Orange will have a difficult time consistently putting points on the board to make-up for the production opposing offenses earn in the run game.

Gameday Details

Florida State gets Syracuse in Doak Campbell Stadium this season on Saturday, October 2nd, 2021. The TV broadcast and time are still TBD. Tickets can be purchased here.

Also check out our other previews for:

FSU Football 2021 Opponent Preview: Notre Dame

FSU Football 2021 Opponent Preview: Jacksonville State

FSU Football 2021 Opponent Preview: Wake Forest

FSU Football 2021 Opponent Preview: Louisville

Keep up with the latest from Double Fries No Slaw by catching our latest episodes here.

-Ed Kennedy

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