Notre Dame Football Opponent Preview: Syracuse Orange Offense


Fresh off a bye week, Notre Dame looks to continue its quest for a spot in the College Playoffs as it takes on Syracuse Saturday night.

In the first three games the Irish have played, the defense has allowed just 315.3 yards per game ranking 24th in the country, which bodes well against a Syracuse offense that has been able to pick up 265 yards per game on their run game alone. The Orange have relied on their offense to run the ball effectively all year picking up 136, 289 and 370 yards rushing in their first three games. Even in their loss against Maryland last week, Syracuse was still able to pick up 370 yards on the ground, so in order to beat the Orange, Notre Dame is going to have to win the turnover battle. The Irish defense is already ranked number one in the nation in turnover margin with an impressive plus-eight, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for Notre Dame to force mistakes.

Offensive line: The Orange’s offensive line is led by redshirt senior left tackle Sean Hickey and senior center John Miller who have led the rushing attack so far this season. The rest of the line is also consists of upperclassmen who are all redshirt juniors. As a veteran offensive line, it’s not going to be easy to get to senior quarterback Terrel Hunt given that this line has only given up one sack all year long. In addition to their superb pass blocking, they’ve also been able to give Syracuse the 20th best running game in the nation. This O-line is no joke. If Notre Dame’s front seven can find ways to cause havoc and get put consistent pressure on Hunt, the Orange won’t be much of a threat otherwise.

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Running backs: The bread and butter of this offense relies on these guys to carry the ball well. Syracuse has reiterated over and over again that they are a run first team, and that won’t change this Saturday against the Irish. The Orange use a two-back system that gives the load of the carries to fifth-year senior Prince-Tyson Gulley and senior Adonis Ameen-Moore who have combined for 444 rushing yards along with a couple of scores. The pair of running backs also are known to make each carry count picking up over seven yards every time the ball is handed off to them. Again, the Irish need to eliminate these two from the game in order to ensure a victory.

Wide Receivers: Although the Orange primarily look to run the ball first, the Syracuse receivers shouldn’t be completely overlooked. The receiving corp won’t be much of a threat in the red zone, but they are used mostly to move the chains on third downs and give the offense a somewhat balanced attack. Nine different receivers have made a reception this season making every receiver on the team a threat to make a play. There really isn’t one guy that the Orange look to when a play needs to be made through the air, but it should be noted that junior receiver Ashton Broyld won’t play this Saturday due to a leg injury.

Quarterback: Because Terrel Hunt is a dual-threat quarterback, Hunt is just as critical to this offense’s running game as the running backs. The Orange use a lot of zone-read to keep the defense on its toes, and Hunt has run it pretty well thus far. Hunt leads the team in rushing carrying the ball 39 times for 273 yards and five scores on the ground. The majority of his scores come close to the goal line, so if Syracuse happens to get into the red zone, you should expect more than likely for Hunt to carry the ball. Hunt isn’t much of a passer although he’s made key throws to move drives along throughout the year. He only has one passing touchdown on the year, so that should allow Notre Dame’s defensive backs to look towards becoming run stoppers on the outside.

There really isn’t anything elaborate that Syracuse does offensively other than pound the ball between the tackles and run the zone-read. Notre Dame’s focus should all be in stopping that powerful running game the Orange have. If the Irish can limit the big plays and cause turnovers, Notre Dame should have no problem keeping Syracuse contained offensively.