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Three Key Matchups to Watch for Against Syracuse

The Demon Deacons are about to head into what could be one of their last winnable games of the 2014 season. What should they be looking out for on Saturday?

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

1. Syracuse true freshman QB AJ Long versus the Wake Forest secondary

Against Florida State, Long played all but three offensive drives, finishing with two touchdowns, two interceptions and 167 yards. He was initially supposed to split snaps with another freshman QB, Austin Wilson, but Long outplayed him early on and Wilson was injured in the fourth quarter. All things considered, it really wasn't a bad performance by Long against a top-ranked team like the Seminoles.

Against the Deacs this week, he actually will face a statistically better-ranked secondary. Wake is allowing under 185 yards per game through the air, 14th best in the entire FBS. Florida State, by comparison, has the 40th ranked pass defense. Kevin Johnson and Bud Noel could force Long to make some more plays with his legs. He carried the ball three times for 20 yards against the Seminoles.

2. The time of possession battle

Wake Forest and Syracuse are both two of the worst teams in college football in terms of time of possession. Wake is No. 110 while Syracuse comes in at No. 114. Since they're playing each other, obviously one team has to win the battle. If the Demon Deacons do manage to out-possess the Orange, it would go a long way toward securing a victory. The Wake defense has played well even with the offense barely managing to move the ball. If they get a little more support from John Wolford , they could have the chance to shut down AJ Long.

3. The Wake Forest running games versus ?

I put a question mark for the opponent here because I don't know if the Deacons are really facing the Orange or themselves in this aspect of the game. The run offense has been so horrific that it has to be getting in the players' and coaches' heads. The team currently boasts the worst running yardage total in all of Division I football. The Deacons have gained just 186 yards on 179 carries so far this year. That includes a single touchdown as well.

On the other side of the ball, the Syracuse run defense has been decent. It's currently ranked No. 48 in the country and they're allowing 3.4 yards per carry. In theory Wake should be able to get something going on the ground, but it's obviously not a given with this offensive line. With that being said, I feel that at some point this unit will break out, even if it's just for a game. I find it hard to believe that they'll go the entire season averaging one yard per carry. Is Dez Wortham the answer? He averaged more than five yards/carry against Florida State. We'll find out on Saturday.