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A Q&A For The Duke-Syracuse Football Game

Thanks to our Syracuse buddy John for this.

Nov 1, 2014; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Scott Shafer looks at the scoreboard during the third quarter of a game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at the Carrier Dome. North Carolina State won the game 24-17.
Nov 1, 2014; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Scott Shafer looks at the scoreboard during the third quarter of a game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at the Carrier Dome. North Carolina State won the game 24-17.
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

We did a Q&A with our SBN colleague John Cassillo of Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, who offers us his insights into Syracuse football.

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Syracuse is currently 3-6 with one win in the last seven games. Is the team staying upbeat?

The fan base certainly isn't. And it doesn't seem like the team really is anymore either. I think given the amount of injuries, staff upheaval and tough opponents the Orange have had to deal with this season, everyone's just kind of looking at the end of the tunnel with relief. That doesn't mean Syracuse is going to take it easy and just go through the motions this Saturday. Simply means that there's too much mental and physical exhaustion to give this game the type of fanfare it may have once deserved.

How do you think Syracuse will attack Duke? How are injuries hindering the 'Cuse?

If SU's offense was smart, they'd utilize the running game against Duke -- it worked very well for Pitt last week, and overall, halfback is a position of strength for the Orange. But recent play-calling has dictated a different approach, so I'm unsure if that obvious advantage is enough to sway them from recent pass-happy ways. Injuries have really rocked this team, with half of the offensive line hurt, receivers Brisly Estime and Ashton Broyld both pretty banged up, and Syracuse playing with its third-string QB out there. So saying we're hindered on offense is putting it very lightly (even more so when considering that all of these injuries coincided with a change in offensive coordinator).

Defensively, we're an aggressive group against all opponents, and that's going to be the case against Duke, too. Expect a lot of five- and six-man rushes with the secondary getting involved in some blitz schemes here and there as well. The line is a quality group, but the heart of the blitz comes from the linebacker spots and all of those players can get behind the line of scrimmage in a hurry.

Why is Syracuse struggling with turnovers? Is it just youth?

Youth is part of it, for sure. Long is a true freshman who started the year as the third-string QB and only had his redshirt burned due to injuries. So he's very raw. We've also played against a lot of turnover-focused defenses though, keep that in mind. Notre Dame, Louisville and Clemson are some of the game's best, and most of our other opponents are no slouches either. So it's a combination of youth, plus degree of difficulty.

We know how basketball draws in the Carrier Dome. How about football? Is it the same?

Uhhh... we wish. I'd be shocked if there as many people at the Dome for this game on Saturday as there was at the huge Duke-Syracuse hoops game last season. So yes, it's the same, but only because the numbers are probably similar. Not because the fan support is a similar level of enthusiastic.

Who are your biggest offensive weapons?

By the offense's design, it's Long. He's a dual-threat with a great arm and some awesome speed on the outside. He'll be getting the ball to receivers Jarrod West and Steve Ishmael a ton, and will also target Ben Lewis when attention toward the other two allows him to spring open a bit. As mentioned, we should be running the ball a lot more than we have been, so if that actually happens, you'll see a bunch of carries for Prince-Tyson Gulley (speed) and Adonis Ameen-Moore (power).

What do you think of the ACC so far, football wise? It's obviously a step up from the Big East, but how is it different?

We've had a few discussions about this on the blog, and we've found that the ACC isn't THAT much different from the Big East. The big step-up is really just that the ACC's best teams are miles ahead of what the Big East's best teams looked like. The ACC's basement looks a lot like the Big East's did, and the large mid-section of our new conference is a lot like teams one through five in our old home.

What is truly different, though, are the schools and traditions and Southern nature of everything that we just never really had exposure to in our previous league. I've made two football road trips in our two years so far (Maryland, Wake Forest), so admittedly I haven't gotten the full experience just yet. But for a lot of fans that have made more of the trips, it's been a cool experience to see new cities and towns and meet new fan bases.