Our Deacs, coming off an offensive explosion in which they manged to pile up 587 total yards and 37 points against a Notre Dame defense that hadn’t given up more than 20 points all season, head to New York this weekend to take on Syracuse (4-5, 2-3 in ACC). Both of these teams like to use fast, no huddle style tempos, so I’ll make this intro as quick as the time between snaps. Here are the players to watch:
Offense: Steve Ishmael | Senior WR | #8
Syracuse loves to spread the field and the zip the ball all over the place. This system has really benefited Ishmael, who has 78 receptions for 986 yards and 5 TDs this season. He is nationally ranked in the top 5 in several categories for receivers, including: receptions (2nd), receiving yards (5th), and receiving yards per game (4th). He has caught double digit passes in 4 games this season and has eclipsed the 100 yard mark in 6 of the Orange’s 9 games. This is, atleast in part, due to the up tempo system Syracuse uses. The Orange are 1st in the nation at 90.2 plays per game, and utilize a plethora of receiver screens and quick passes to get their playmakers in space. That’s not to diminish Ishmael as a player of course; He is definitely a big threat in the passing game, which is evident by his 12 reception, 143 yard, 1 TD performance last week against a pretty good Florida State secondary. With Jessie Bates III possibly not in the lineup this weekend, Ishmael is going to put a lot of pressure on the secondary for the Deacs, which could be the difference in the game.
Defense: Parris Bennett | Senior LB | #30
Bennett is one of 2 Orange linebackers who recorded over 100 tackles last season (the other being Zaire Franklin). He gained All-ACC Honorable Mention honors for the 2016 season with 110 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 3 forced fumbles. He has continued to play at a high level this season, racking up 83 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble through 9 games. He has recorded double digit tackles in 4 games so far this season. With almost 10 tackles per game, Bennett clearly has a knack for diagnosing where the play is going and getting there in time to make a stop. Last time out against Wake Forest, Bennett recorded 12 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. He is obviously a guy you want to make sure you account for on every play, as if he is left unblocked he will most likely beat the ball carrier to where the play is going and bring him down. The Deacs should try to utilize misdirection and play fakes to keep Bennett and the rest of the Syracuse defense guessing.