Thursday, December 04, 2003

This is how it ends.

Syracuse comes in with a 5-6 record, and it looks like they've had an up and down year, too - losing to the good Big East teams and beating up on the crappy ones (with a few exceptions. Really, there's no consistency. They'll blow out a Toledo or a BC, hang in there against Miami, or get trampled by VPI or Rutgers. Nobody knows which Syracuse team will show up on Saturday.
Syracuse's offense relies on their rushing attack. The main man is Walter Reyes at 105 YPG, but QB RJ Anderson and a decent supporting cast bring the team total up to 184 YPG. Reyes will get his yards, but the key will be for Tuck, Watson, and Hoyte to keep him at bay, and to keep Anderson in the pocket.
Anderson has also made every pass attempt this year (but don't rule out a trick play in this game) and has a respectable 177 YPG. His leading receiver is Johnny "I'm not Alaskan, but I did have a nice TD catch against WVU" Morant with 63 YPG. Anderson spreads the ball out fairly well, I suppose. Reyes is second in YPG, so look for quite a few short passes and dumpoffs, especially on what will be a fast turf. Don't be surprised to see our secondary make a few mistakes speedwise on the turf, too. Syracuse is averaging just over 1 sack given up per game, and our Dline's knees might have problems with the turf, too. So, our DBs will have to step it up for this one.
When the Irish have the ball, power football should be key. Syracuse gives up 145 YPG on the ground. Julius's speed and power are perfect. He needs 223 yards to tie Vagas Ferguson's single-season mark of 1437, but I'd be happy if he only got 123 (hoo hoo!). Just keep pounding the football.
Syracuse gives up 224 YPG in the air, but they have played some decent passing teams. Still, I think Quinn has put it together, and he and his receivers should do alright.
Nothing out of the ordinary in the special teams department. Play heads up and everything will be fine.

Look for a big game from: the Seniors, BHoyte, Quentin Burrell, Matt Shelton, and Ty.

ND 30, Syracuse 20. Nothing wrong with a conservative bet.

Time to go play Leprechaun vs. OrangeMan in NCAA 2004.