Syracuse Orange soccer training camp is underway this week as we continue to preview their opponents for the 2022 season. After a proverbial bye week against Wagner, followed by actual bye week, Syracuse will host its fourth straight game. This is where it gets tricky, because the oranges meet four of last year’s classifieds in a row. The gauntlet portion of the schedule begins with an ACC opponent who has long been SU’s kryptonite…
school: State of North Carolina
mascot: wolf pack
#BRAND slogans: #1Pack1Goal, #GoPack, #StrengthInThePack
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Recommended blog: Rear cover for the pack
History vs. Syracuse: NC State has a 13-2 advantage in the series, with notable victories over SU league leaders in 1997 and 1998. The Orange first defeated the Wolfpack in the two teams’ first ACC duel in 2013. The second win was a primetime shootout in 2018 where Eric Dungey outplayed Ryan Finley; That 51-41 win knocked SU out of NC State’s No. 22 ranking. (It also happened to be my first personal Cuse football game.) Less inspirational moments from recent history include Tommy Devito, who has been sacked to a disappointing loss eight times, and Rex Culpepper, who dropped the ball in a NotTop10 moment in 4th place landed.
Coaches: Dave Doeren, tenth season. The pack has thrived under Dave’s leadership thus far, playing seven bowl games in nine seasons. Doeren was TE at Drake, where he also began his college coaching career. After initially working as a LBs coach, Dave held various defensive coaching positions at USC, Montana, Kansas and Wisconsin. He was hired as Northern Illinois’ head coach prior to the 2011 season and led the Huskies to a total of 23 wins and a 16th AP ranking in just two seasons. Doeren was approached by NC State ahead of NIU’s 2012 bowl game, and he accepted her offer.
Record 2021: (9-3) (6-2)
Review of the last season:
After a 2-1 start against OOC opponents, NC State ended an eight-game losing streak against No. 9 Clemson with a 27-21 triumph in Raleigh. After two more wins, the Wolfpack fell just a point behind the Miami Hurricanes. Rebound wins over Louisville and Florida State put her against No. 12 Wake Forest was in good position, but the Demon Deacons prevailed 45-42. The regular season ended with home wins over Syracuse and North Carolina. At 9-3, the Wolfpack were scheduled to play in the Holiday Bowl, but UCLA pulled out just hours before kickoff. The NCAA doesn’t recognize it as a forfeiture, despite a similar situation that arose last spring with the school’s baseball team.
Quarterback Devin Leary had a remarkable year, throwing for 3,433 yards and 35 TDs (which edged out Philip Rivers for a new program record) while offering just five picks. Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person split up the middle in a fairly successful rushing attack. The three-headed monster of Emeka Emezie, Thayer Thomas and Devin Carter combined for 20 TD catches and 1,900+ yards, helping the passing game make the top-20 yards-per-game nationally.
The defensive unit was impressive on its own, conceding less than 20 points on average. Linebacker Drake Thomas was an absolute freak of nature, with six sacks and three interceptions, including a pick 6. Fellow LB Vi Jones also had six of the team’s 33 sacks. An elite CB group saw Derrek Pitts Jr., Tyler Baker-Williams and Shyheim Battle all get two interceptions. Kicker Christopher Dunn made all 48 of his extra points but was only 13/19 on FGs; I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since half his misses came from 50+ yards.
Season outlook 2022:
The Wolfpack schedule has a preloaded OOC lineup. After the season started in East Carolina, NC State FCS welcomes Charleston Southern, Texas Tech and UConn. They also have home games against FSU, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Boston College. Street ACC games are held in Clemson, Syracuse, Louisville and UNC.
Leary is back under center as a redshirt junior, so expect the offense to stick to a more traditional game plan with very few QB scrambles. Last year’s 1A and 1B RBs both turned pros, leaving Jordan Houston as the only veteran. Emezie graduated, but Thomas and Carter will return as reliable wide receivers.
Skill positions on the defensive side remain stacked as they were in 2021. Thomas, Pitts, Baker-Williams, Battle, and Safety Tanner Ingle all return. The only minor concerns are the departures of Jones and font seven defensive end Daniel Joseph, but there should be enough internal options to get a good chunk of their production back.
Syracuse game date: Saturday 15 October
Location: JMA Wireless Dome, Syracuse, New York
Odds of winning Orange: 35%
Very early prospects vs. Syracuse:
SU will be the underdogs in this game, and with good reason. The Wolfpack Defense is equally capable of blocking rushes and passes. That being said, I can’t imagine the Babers players coming out of the bye as unprepared as they were last season. Against a very stationary QB, one can hope that the D-line has caved in far enough to open up holes and make Leary, well… suspicious of being fired. If he needs to rush his shots, Garrett Williams and Duce Chestnut can keep the guys on the outside busy long enough to take away the deep ball.