Syracuse football looks to improve record to 5-0 against Wagner

SU football looks to go 5-0 vs. Wagner

The Orange is highly favored in Saturday's homecoming match against the Seahawks in the JMA Wireless Dome.
Published: September 30, 2022
Garrett Shrader #6 of the Syracuse Orange prepares to pass the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers at JMA Wireless Dome on September 23.
#6 Garrett Shrader prepares to pass the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers at JMA Wireless Dome on Sept. 23.

Syracuse football looks to improve its season to 5-0 with a home game against Wagner (0-3) on Saturday at 5 p.m. The last time the Orangemen have started its season 5-0 was 35 years ago.

The ’87 Syracuse squad went 11-0-1 on the season with its lone tie being against Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, 16-16.

The Orange has put on a show that fans haven’t seen in recent years. Being 4-0 is already an accomplishment with it being Syracuse’s first time since 2018.

ESPN predicts Syracuse has a 99.8% chance of beating Wagner, but Syracuse head coach Dino Babers acknowledges there have been upsets happening all over the country this season. Appalachian State beat No. 17 ranked Texas A&M 17-14 at the Aggies’ home opener. Marshall’s win over Notre Dame 26-1 made the Fighting Irish’s record 0-2 starting the season.

So, Babers wants his players to stay honed in and focused on winning this game.

“This is a tricky game for us and our team has to really stay locked in,” Babers said.

Injuries to Syracuse players have been happening left and right and Babers confirmed Monday that defensive lineman Terry Lockett, sustaining an injury in the Virginia game last week, will be out for the year.

“We won’t know about those guys until further evaluations throughout the week,” Babers said regarding defensive backs Alijah Clark and Ja’Had Carter.

Babers also hopes for a better diagnosis for linebacker Derek McDonald this week, but doesn’t count him out for the season.

Placekicker Andre Szmyt, who kicked the game-winning field goal against Virginia and is ACC specialist of the week, has the gold sticker approval from Babers.

“I really believe we have old Andre. I’m excited to see him back,” Babers said. “That doesn’t mean that everything’s been right and everything is perfect, but we’re striving for perfection and he’s relentless in that pursuit.”

Babers is also confident in freshman punter Maximilian Von Marburg, who hasn’t even shown the crazy kicks he is capable of doing, yet.

“What a pitcher can do with a baseball with their hand, is what he can do with his foot,” Babers said.

The defensive players are coming together and creating a strong link to their coaches, according to Babers. Defensive back Garrett Williams, ACC defensive player of the week, recorded an interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery for five yards against Virginia.

Despite not throwing for any touchdowns against Virginia, quarterback Garrett Shrader recorded his second best passing yards on the season with 277 yards. Syracuse’s lone touchdown against the Cavaliers came from a 17 yard run from Shrader in about the first 12 minutes of play.

With some slip ups on Syracuse’s offensive side in the Virginia game, Babers said there will be some changes in the run game.

Wagner is off to a rough start this season, falling to Fordham, Rutgers and Saint Frances.

In its most recent game, the Seahawks loss to Saint Frances by a 20-point deficit. Wagner started the game off on the right foot with wide receiver Naiem Simmons scoring a 17 yard touchdown. After this Wagner’s offense stayed quiet.

The Seahawks have been accustomed to having losing seasons, going 0-11 last season and 1-11 in 2019.

Looking ahead after this Saturday’s game, the Orange faces some tough ACC matchups with a home game against No. 12 ranked NC State on October 15 and an away game against No. 5 ranked Clemson.

“We need to focus on Wagner and then we need to focus on ourselves,” Babers said.