SU looks to remain undefeated against Virginia in primetime ACC matchup

SU looks to go 4-0 vs. Virginia

Former Cavalier coaches Robert Anae and Jason Beck have helped bring firepower to the Orange's offense.
Published: September 22, 2022
Garett Williams #8, intercepting a pass in a game against Louisville
Syracuse's Garett Williams (8), shown here intercepting a pass Sept. 3 against Louisville, is optimistic the defense can shut down Virginia's passing attack.

As momentum surges with its early season success, Syracuse football (3-0) returns to ACC play Friday when it hosts Virginia (2-1) for a primetime matchup in the JMA Wireless Dome.

Two coaches on Syracuse’s sidelines are quite familiar with the Cavaliers as former Virginia offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterbacks coach Jason Beck are directing the Orange’s offensive attack.

As the Cavaliers’ offensive coordinator for six seasons and quarterback coach for five seasons respectively, Anae and Beck played instrumental roles in developing Virginia star quarterback Brennan Armstrong.

SU defensive back Garrett Williams is optimistic that his coaches’ knowledge of Armstrong’s passing style and approach will be helpful for the Orange overall.

“They’re pretty familiar with him and kind of know how he operates a little bit,” Williams said. ” It’ll help out a lot, just trusting the preparation that our defense is doing.”

That preparation also involves scouting Virginia’s talented receivers Keytaon Thompson and Dontayvion Wicks, who could prove to be a challenge for Williams and SU’s secondary. The duo has combined for 39o yards receiving so far this season.

Williams squared off with Purdue’s Charlie Jones, who erupted for 188 yards receiving and a touchdown against Syracuse this past Saturday. For Friday’s game, Williams said he has to prepare differently for Thompson, specifically due to him being almost half a foot taller at 6-foot-5.

“The body styles are definitely, night and day,” Williams said. “I’ve just been trying to practice with the taller guys we have on our team to kind of get comfortable going against that height.

“You won’t find out until the game what it’s really like.”

SU defense linemen Caleb Okechukwu emphasized how important it is for the defense to continue to have a “MOB” mentality, a phrase that he and teammates Aman Greenwood, Ja’Had Carter, and Marlo Wax brought with them to Syracuse from the Washington, D.C., area, also known as the “DMV.”

“It’s a mentality just to come out and work hard every day — aggressive mentality, everybody flying to the ball,” Okechukwu said. “So we wanted to bring that culture from D.C. to the team.”

Williams does credit the enthusiasm from Orange fans, including Otto’s Army student section, for making a difference in the team’s home wins against Louisville and Purdue. 

“It’s made a really big impact for us,” Williams said. “It’s helped us play better as a whole — not even just on defense — but as a team carrying off their energy.”