Florida state

Key matches of the week: FSU v Syracuse

Florida State suffered another tough loss last weekend to Louisville. The ‘Noles (0-4) are now focused on trying to win their first game of the season when Syracuse comes to town this week.

READ MORE: Florida State Seminoles releases depth chart for Syracuse game

Syracuse Orange (3-1) is off to a good start to the season and recently won a tough victory against Liberty on Friday night. Expect them to approach the game this weekend with a lot of confidence. The FSU fought back after losing 17-0 in the first quarter to Louisville and gave fans a glimmer of hope.

Syracuse faces Florida State at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Tallahassee on the ACC network. Here are my three keys to victory for the Winless Seminoles.

1. Syracuse running back Sean Tucker against FSU defense

Syracuse dynamic running back Sean Tucker has been nothing short of amazing this season. Tucker is second in the NCAA with 536 rushing yards in four games averaging 6.5 yards per pop. If the Seminoles can contain Tucker, it gives them a better chance to compete with the lingering uncertainty of the Syracuse quarterback. One of the problems the ‘Noles have had in defense this season has been his inability to make the first tackles, which turns a three to four yard gain into a 20 yard gain. FSU has improved from racing this season and that will be another solid test for this defense. Keeping the big runs to a minimum will be crucial against Tucker on Saturday.

READ MORE: Observations from Tuesday’s practice: ‘Noles gears up for Syracuse

2. Syracuse Pass Rush vs FSU Pass Rush
The Syracuse Orange has totaled 18 sacks this season. It’s tied for second in the country behind LSU. Florida State has sacked the quarterback 13 times this season and it’s tied for 18th in the country. Syracuse first-year linebacker Marlowe Wax is a converted high school backer and leads the Orange with 5 sacks this season. Transfer defensive end Jermaine Johnson II leads the Noles with 5.5 sacks. With a longer down and distance, it decreases the chances of the opposing team kicking the ball and getting each team out of their comfort zone. The team with the most bags will win this weekend.

3. Special teams
I expect it to be a close and competitive game. Usually this means that special teams will play a big role in the flow of the game. Special teams all around have been inconsistent so far this season with the ‘Noles. FSU kicker Ryan Fitzgerald has missed two field goals and one extra point so far this season. Syracuse kicker Andre Szmyt has converted all his extra points but has also missed two field goals this season. If the game comes down to a kick, I don’t think either team would be confident. Also keep an eye out for the battle of position on the ground. Both teams struggle to pass the ball and if punters can pin punters deep inside the 20, it will make life difficult on offense for both teams.

READ MORE: FSU running back no longer listed

It’s a tough game for both teams and I think the Noles have a chance to win their first game this weekend. It won’t be easy, but if FSU can play hard and dominate these three keys throughout the game, you might see happy faces in Tallahassee on Saturday night!

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