Nov 9, 2013; College Park, MD, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Terrel Hunt (10) gains yardage against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Hey look, it’s an old friend from the ACC!
With Maryland playing their final non-conference game on Saturday against Syracuse, the Big Ten era is right around the corner.
Syracuse is an interesting opponent, and their offense is somewhat of a mixed bag.
The Orange’s passing offense is ranked in the bottom 20 percent in the nation, ranking 107th in the nation with just 179.5 yards-per-game. With a weak schedule so far, their offense isn’t as dynamic as many expected. Senior quarterback Terrel Hunt has been an efficient passer, but is only completing 63 percent of his passes. However, he has just one touchdown to zero interceptions. Hunt’s ability to escape the pocket and do damage on the ground is what makes him dynamic. In 2013, Hunt ran for 500 yards on 109 carries while scoring seven touchdowns. While he’s not as good of a runner as Terrapins quarterback C.J. Brown, Hunt stays within himself and makes defenses pay for over-committing on the wide receivers.
The running game is where Syracuse thrives. The Orange rank 41st in the nation with 212.5 yards-per-game, and are led by running back Adonis Ameen-Moore. Moore is an undersized back at 5’11”, but uses his speed to break away from containment. At 246 pounds, he’s still a very tough running back to bring down. Drawing comparisons of former Boston College running back Andre Williams, Moore is a good North/South runner that is quick and with his strength, he’s able to make big plays.
Utilizing the read-option offense, Moore and Hunt account for 57 percent of their rushing attack. Backup running back Prince-Tyson Gulley has made his mark, too. Gulley has rushed for 113 yards on 18 carries, including a 65-yard touchdown run. The three-headed rushing attack is the heart of the Syracuse offense.
Their experienced offensive line has allowed them to exploit their opponent on the ground. Syracuse returns four of their five offensive linemen from last year, and is the same line that overpowered Maryland’s undersized defensive line a season ago.
While they’ve played two weaker teams in the early part of the season, Syracuse should not be taken lightly after last week’s defensive outing against West Virginia. Maryland struggled to get off of the field due to West Virginia’s dominant passing attack. Luckily, Hunt struggles with deep throws, and Syracuse’s coaches know that. The Orange run a lot of screens and short passes to maximize Hunt’s ability, which is evident in Hunt’s longest throw this season being just 20 yards.
With Syracuse hosting Maryland, the Orange will feed off the rowdy fans and loud stadium. Maryland will need to disrupt the offense early and get pressure on Hunt to force him into poor decisions. The problem will be when Hunt gets out of the pocket or Moore gets into the open lane. Maryland’s rush defense ranks 61st in the nation in run defense, allowing 142.3 yards-per-game. That statistic will determine Maryland’s fate this Saturday as the Terps will look to achieve a 3-1 record.