Man is an absolute magician.
He said Good morning, everyone.
And welcome to this week's pre game for Syracuse versus Liberty.
I'm Steve Taylor.
With me is Cristian Guzman and Kevin Wall.
How we doing today, folks? A za good as we can in a way that we didn't get to that point had again heading into this season.
Ready for what? Comes the next 3.
Right? Um, as ready as we can.
Yeah, I feel like we're living, but this is fine. Yeah.
Yeah. This is definitely with.
Well, actually, going into this, we thought, you know, 15 of our two deep, we're gonna be gone.
Looks like that's a little better.
But as soon as I had heard that initially it was like that, that was the first thing that came to mind is, you know, everything's pretty well burning down around us.
Yeah, but we think it a little bit of good news.
And we start talking about the five things they're looking for.
John and Andy and you, Steve talked about run defense, and it looks like Carol Richards and Jeff can't Naraku, who was the Canadian college player of the week last week are gonna be back on the field today for the Orange.
How can Syracuse do a better job defending the run than we saw against you? Well, that's, um I guess that's yet to be seen way.
Got a couple things we need to do to defend the run better, especially against, you know, a mobile threat like Malik Willis.
Uh, there's there's plenty of play that could improve from both the line and linebackers.
Well, as you know, I think in the 335 people dog on the don't don't get the fact that the safety is responding is actually going to be a big piece of run defense.
So I think it's literally all three levels need toe have a different, different approach than they did against Duke.
So it's, uh, we'll see where that that goes.
I don't know, Christian.
I know you kind of looked in the past.
You've looked into this 335 defense quite a bit.
So anything you noticed coming out of that Duke game well, I I think I mentioned in my piece on Friday.
It's just that the tackling was abysmal, and it's been abysmal for pretty much the entire year, except for the pit game where Syracuse actually had a decent game against the run defense.
But I guess even in the beginning of the game, when, um, Syracuse was still a little bit fresh, there was still a lot of times with the Duke running backs were breaking through the line and gaining a couple more actually yards than they brought way more deserved.
So two yard Russia's turned into 5678 yard Russia's, and that was the biggest issue for Syracuse.
So is that, um, yeah, yeah, sure, yes, I agree with you that all three lines need to improve in terms off, um, they're tackling and their run defense, but it's got to start up front as well.
In terms off, guys just need to wrap up guys and make sure they get to the ground first to prevent the extra yards that people can fight for after contact.
I mean, I haven't looked too much into the stats, but to be something pretty interesting to see, um, if Liberty has a good game on the ground, how many yards there Russia's get after initial contact because that's been a big issue for Syracuse this entire year.
So we got a lot of young players on defense.
You mentioned Willis, but Rochester native Josh Mac is averaging over six years to carry so far this year.
What about, um, responsibility? Christian? You talked a little bit in your piece about basics and tackling, but just talking about staying in your position, especially in some option plays on the outside, I think Ah, lot of that also has to do with what if a team and a fondue set, um in the players pressures in the middle of the week, where he said, You can't expect one guy to go out there and ensure the tackle and make the tackle.
We saw that a lot in the two came, especially in that Jared Gardner touchdown, where Canon rt through short a tackle that should have been a a tackle for 10 yards and second, nine and six.
However, Garter rushes off the tackle easily, and he waltzed into the end zone because everyone in Syracuse defense kind of just stopped.
And Steve, you mentioned this in the slack chat.
Uh, last week also is It's that idea of playing to the whistle, which it feels like Syracuse, um loses more and more of as the game goes on because they're getting tired.
But it's still an issue at the beginning of the game as well.
Um, and so you've gotta have multiple guys who are who are willing to make a play in terms of getting a guy to the ground and making sure he's on the ground before you can actually go for the head hunting turnovers that the Syracuse defense likes to dio.
So I think that's the big issue.
She was just making sure that multiple guys air there to make the stop and make sure that the guy doesn't fight for extra yards after the initial stop.
And that played the whistle. Think definitely.
It's really just had significantly on the defense, but also on the offense.
I mean, you had guys Well, I mean, you had the RaJohnson, um, long, long through last week, that e mean he had beaten his man, and there was no one, and it was just he stopped.
It was like, Okay, um, then a couple other routes that weren't finished a couple other pass blocking when the pocket starts to break down, the linemen aren't quite, you know, continuing to play to the whistle.
A soon as the quarterback's gonna start to scramble, the line would have to be thinking on their feet.
Um, there's the plane of the whistle thing definitely needs to happen all around, and it Z become an issue at this point all season, so we'll see if they can correct that this week, right? So I think we're gonna switch sides of the ball and talk a little bit about Syracuse new starting quarterback Rex Culpepper.
The offense has struggled, to say the least with Tommy DeVito back there.
What do you think the Orange Staff can do to put Culpepper in a position to succeed? I think it starts with Sean Tucker.
It has launched Tucker, her friends who don't know, never been following on Twitter.
Um, multiple reports have confirmed that Tucker is dressed and his participate again in pregame warmups.
So all signs look good that it will be a full participant in today's game.
So any any a relief that Tucker can take off of coal pepper, um, will be massively helpful and helping him settled down in his his first start.
I believe it's his first start.
A sor Syracuse is number one quarterback, um, so if toxic and have a good game like he did against, uh, Duke and against Georgia Tech.
And And he did also have a good game against Duke before he, uh, got out side out due to injury for the second half of that game.
Um, I think that helps Syracuse's chances massively.
Yeah, and with with Tucker being the driving force behind it, also changing up.
I know we've talked about a couple of times this week in a couple of different articles, but changing up the past game to fit what Rex can do.
We saw through the first couple of games any time he came in.
It was a very, very different style of his release is different.
Where he's throwing his different.
He ended up being behind a lot of receivers.
Even the long touchdown.
The Taj was probably a couple yards behind his guy.
Taj came back and made a play on um, if we can take and you know it's not not a fixture in Babers and Gilbert's offense, but utilize some of the middle of the field.
Some of the quicker, easier, like, more targeted reads.
Um, do something that we've been calling for for weeks upon weeks and utilize those tight ends.
Um, maybe even some swing passes and dumps stuff that, for one, gets Rex, um, comfortable back there.
And for two, you know, keeps a flow to the offense.
Uh, well, allowing the ball to get into some of the playmaker's hands.
Like maybe you even moved Taj inside to the slot like we've also been calling about.
I don't I don't see something major like that happening, but just thinking outside the box a little to see how you can utilize a little more limited arm with Rex.
Uh, but also a little more quicker decision making.
So, yeah, that's it's a weird How you telling this offense to a completely new quarterback after five weeks is not gonna be a task.
I envy the the coaching staff on.
So do you think going with the backup, though, means that the rest of the offense is a little bit more dialed in tow? What they need to dio um, you know, from the offensive line whether it's, you know, holding a block a little bit longer.
The receivers trying Thio, you know, look for the ball.
Help, help Q B out.
I mean, a lot of times I think it's natural for people to take for granted that the expectation of all this guy could do the job, you know? I trust them.
Okay, now the backups, and we still believe he could do it.
But at the same time, we know he's not the same quarterback is the video.
So maybe if I'm a receiver, I'm gonna turn a little bit quicker.
Gonna be ready, toe, have toe, adjust to a pass That might not be, You know, Overthrown would be fighting back for the ball, doing some different things in that regard.
I completely agree with that.
That goes into my thing.
Toe watch on the article is that you've got to help out Rex.
Uh, because we we've seen it.
Um, you can't make the same throws that time.
Um, so the receivers have to be on their a game to make sure that they give him every possible opportunity.
They can help them out and make make him feel comfortable in the offense and the flow of the game.
Um, Thio eventually up to the speed that Syracuse wants to run.
Um, so I think that's gonna be a big deciding factor.
And how the offense operates is if the wide receivers especially can limit the drops, which was a massive problem as a understatement against Duke to make sure they put themselves in good positions to help out Rex on every single play you can't take off.
You can't take a playoff like we've mentioned.
You can't you can't play before the whisk.
You can't play it and stop before the whistle.
Uh, thes were wide.
Receivers have to be on their A game to help out Rex in every way shape.
Impossible to make sure that Syracuse doesn't lose a game that many expect them to win for the season, right? And I'm looking for that emotional booth that Culpepper might bring.
Obviously, you know, having beaten cancer, you can tell he's well liked by his teammates.
Hey, brings just a little bit of a unique personality to the team.
I think a lot of fans kind of criticized the veto as being a little bit more businesslike and robotic, and they they long for that passion that Dungy showed.
You know where that maybe it's a little recklessness, but maybe it's a little bit of gives the team a little boost.
And let's face it, this is a program that everything is kind of going downward in terms of the injuries and, you know, it probably needs a little bit of a feel good story to it.
So I'll be curious if that, you know, that was my thing.
To watch the effect that, you know, if he can make a play early on, does it get the rest of the team going? Does it give a little bit of life the orange? Because this is a game that liberty is pointing to, Um, you know, they're undefeated coming in.
This is a shot to knock off a Power five team.
If they win, they're probably gonna have a chance to sneak in the top 25 before the Big 10 get started, eh? So this is huge for their program.
And so I think that it's certainly it's something that they've circled.
And if Syracuse can come out and and get a jump on them early.
You know, it might take away some of that confidence that they have.
They haven't faced somebody, you know, with the talent that Syracuse has even depleted, you know, this is the best team that they face.
So I think it's important to get a good start.
Yeah, that's it's gonna be I think the tone like you're saying the tone is gonna be said early.
Um, you don't wanna let a team like liberty hang around, especially like you said, They've got a target on Syracuse is back.
They I thought they all the all the pregame interviews with their players were the It's not the standard coach speak or players speak, but like, you know, they all quote unquote thought they thought they could have won last year, even though they lost 24 to nothing.
And there, you know, they're coming in with a chip on his shoulder.
We saw a couple years ago against Middle Tennessee State that things can happen.
Um, I hate to bring that up, you know, that's that's not quite as bad as referencing the air that should not be named, but it's close, but it's bad enough when you see your former head coach walking down to dump stares at the cigar in his hand for the opposite team.
That was rough, but you know, it's not unheard of that he was gonna lose the Power five team.
I know John brought it up earlier in the week on the site that, um, it's what it would be the fourth loss in the last couple of years in the past 20 years.
10 years e remember what the time frame was? But it's definitely not something that we haven't seen, so I definitely need to come in ready and active.
Do either of you guys think we see one of the freshman quarterbacks today? I think there's a good chance that we see him, at least for a Siri's.
Um, I'll predicated to on how Rex looks.
Also a little bit of news on that, because we got the or for John Markowitz and Jacoby More.
Jacoby and Morgan.
Jacoby and Morgan has been taking snaps with the second line in pregame warmups, so it looks like he's the second string quarterback and not Markowitz, who I think a lot of people expected to have a second string job, right? Interesting I am.
I kind of have a feeling that Dino Babers and Sterling Gilbert have a package for whichever quarterback they decided to go with Andi.
I have a feeling we'll see it either late in the first or the second quarter, if for nothing else to give Liberty something else to think about heading into halftime.
I don't know that it's like a gadget play or anything, but I have a feeling that there's a two or three plays that they've got put together for one of these guys, um, to give Liberty something different.
Look at Ondo, also kind of, you know, throw another wrinkle out there to try and get some some offensive momentum going.
Yeah, I mean, you've got interesting.
Yeah, well, in those two, when you look at Morgan, I mean, what was it is juniors? It was either late in his junior a senior that he converted a quarterback like he was, uh, ball in his hands type guy for most of his career.
So it could be the diversity of, you know, Hey, let's let's put the athlete out there on top of everything else and let him do his thing.
Um, I was It's funny because I remembered and and I were talking on the cast on Sunday.
How randomly when we go back and look at some of the guys that we've previewed over the course between get to know and when they signed and all that and it's like, remember that way were going back and I remembered that I had, you know, looked into Morgan.
I think when he signed, I wrote up his stuff and I was trying to figure out what, like why his numbers were so low for his career.
And then I found out that it was like, Oh, yeah, he just became a quarterback.
It's like, Okay, this this could be, you know, could definitely be something to use in a package like you're talking about where it's, you know, Rex is, you know, no offensive Rex, but he's a former then, but probably a strict pocket passer when it comes toe quarterback style.
Um and, you know, just give it a completely 1 80.
Look, that z always that Yeah, e you mentioned tight ends.
I mean, if you wanna add wrinkles to your offense.
I know two very good players at Syracuse hasn't used that.
Could be definitely used to add some wrinkles.
I'm not sure if you heard of them.
Guys don't named Aaron hacking.
And you're talking about a Oh, yes, yes, yes, them them them that that may be the ultimate do.
But if you put Morgan at quarterback and then you bring coal pepper into tight end for, like, one play on day that we're somehow Wildcats scenario might do and sure go for E.
Uh, saints do it with taste him and you're replacing it.
You know, you're taking a Hall of Fame quarterback from under center and and no offense to record Culpepper.
But if you're moving him toe the slot or split out wide toe, bring in Morgan to take snaps.
You know, he could go out and catch the ball.
And you're not removing the Hall of Fame quarterback, you know, on a third down play, it is a different wrinkle.
I mean, we're calling for things.
You know Todd Harris with a wildcat quarterback in high school, you know, there's different wrinkles and Syracuse needs toe.
You know you don't want to go full Lane Kiffin out there.
Uh, there's there's a but there's a few places that you can throw out there to certainly, you know, try to catch it in a big play we saw last week.
A little misdirection to your guy Luke Benson with his speed, you know, especially against some, like liberty.
If you could get him one on one with a linebacker or safety.
I think you've got take those opportunities.
If you're Syracuse.
I think you know when you get one on one with Taj Harris on the outside, you're fine taking those opportunities.
Three other receivers haven't shown consistency this year, and so a guy like Benson who can, when he touched the ball, he's a threat and Syracuse needs those big play threat e Want to see him? Yeah, he's one of the fastest guys on the roster.
Let's not forget that.
I think I forget what I wrote his get to know this year, e believe for for events.
And I believe he's e believe he said that.
I hope I'm not getting the number of correct.
But he said he ran on unofficial 44.
So that's pretty fast, especially not just not just considering he's a tight end.
That's pretty fast in general.
It's a great 40 number, a really great 40 number for a big boy like he is, he's not a He was under 11 seconds in 100 m in high school, you know? So it's not just it's not just a quick, you know.
He's got the ability toe pull away from people, you know.
He got to step on you.
You're probably not gonna bring him down.
Um, not probably not.
Maybe a couple of guys in Liberty defensive backfield, but then you're talking about a guy was probably 1 80 25 trying trying to take him down on the field.
So he's a weapon that that Syracuse, I think, need to find ways to utilize more and consider he's a tight end.
Also help not not just maybe get matched up against 1 81 85 guys.
Like he said, you probably also get matched up against some linebackers.
If they go man to man and with his speed, he'll easily burn linebackers as well.
So I mean, why, why not? I mean and also take a look.
A heck it I mean, he's a guy who will bruise his way to a first down.
So I mean, the fact that Syracuse has only thrown to those guys four times this year is criminal.
And every time they've done it and I think they've moved about moving the chains, yeah, I think they've used Steve.
You've noticed that they've used Hack it a few times, lined up as like, a full back in the backfield.
I think there are opportunities toe move those guys and maybe hack.
It starts off in the backfield and he chips the defensive end or he comes through the center and, you know, makes a linebacker stop a blitz to try and cover him in the flat.
And those are things that Culpepper can hit like we talked about the swing passes, hitting short throws, get him in a rhythm and and, you know, give him some confidence back there.
Those those two guys could be big today, and and Tucker in the passing game is well, I think that's as much as we talked about his bruising between the tackles running, getting him out in space one on one on defenders is another place for Syracuse to take advantage of the future a couple of times with toss plays, and I think one kind of quick screen to him.
But you get the ball in his hands in a in a decent spot, and you can make something happen, too.
So it's not just that one.
Cut in between the tackles and just keep pounding like he seems toe have all around potential.
So we're heading inside 10 minutes before kickoff.
What are your thoughts about today's game? Um, here.
Here's a great thought.
I just saw this on Twitter.
Thank you, Darren Rovell for tweeting all things money related.
Um, somewhat on William Hill was just placed a $95,000 bet on Liberty.
Um, on did it would only net $86,000.
So this is the alternate reality that we're living in now.
If that if that could sell up this Syracuse of Liberty game and how much twisted it's become because of 2020 I think that tweet in itself has done it.
Yeah, that's that There are several things I might want to say but yeah, we're like, to the public right now, so yeah.
Yeah, that Z that's the thing.
Um, that is a thing.
Yeah, I think I think you could still hold together.
I mean, ah, especially with some of the injury news that we got, you know, way we're talking pre cast about.
You know, Steve Linton.
Being on the scratch list is a surprise, but that, you know, the rest of the linebacking corps is kind of back intact.
You've got Tucker who dressed.
You've got well, back intact, Should I say, uh, but you've got Tucker who dressed.
You've got a couple other guys that are on the right side of healthy, or at least more so than we initially might have thought going into the pre game.
So I think I think the arms will still hold it together.
I think my prediction prior was somewhere in the 27 to 10.
I think I'll probably still stick with that.
Yeah, I think it'll be closer.
I don't I don't know that Syracuse will pull away just because we haven't seen enough thio give you the faith.
I do. Look at how the defense played against Georgia.
Tech, which didn't have a strong passing game and really relied on the run.
And despite their success running the ball, I thought Syracuse's defense applied enough pressure, um, to force, obviously turnovers and poor decisions.
I think there's an opportunity for them to take advantage of that.
I think there's an opportunity to use, um, some of the athletes that be orange do have, and I think you know Anderson.
It is a weapon that we don't talk about.
I think he is able to help Syracuse cashing in some points.
At least you know when they get the ball in good field position.
And I think it's enough toe sneak out with the wind and everybody can just take a short sigh of relief.
Okay, Um, for a friend, May I mentioned in in our predictions threat.
I think this game was decided by two players.
It's Tucker, and then it's one of equal s.
If Tucker has whoever has the better game, I think drags his team along for the win because I'm not so sure that the opposing the offenses can then stop the tempo that's generated by the good run game that the opposing offense generates.
So whoever is the better game running, it's probably going to drag the team along.
You know, one thing I did notice, looking at like the Pff stats and breaking some other things down from their standpoint is Willis definitely makes up for a, um, how to put it mildly, a lack of line play on their end.
They literally have one tackle the grades out in a above average or like in the green.
Uh, anyone who's seen the Pff numbers understand what I'm talking about.
But I think over 70 I believe they start going in shades of green instead of the yellow mediocre, um, and their rate tackle, um, Matt Macaw Cooper Makov eyes the only the only lineman they have that's creating out well, so I'm I'm kind of pining on, you know, Bare and Jack Black and Kingsley Jonathan to kinda hopefully take advantage.
Some of that mismatch and either force Willis to do the force will, is to make a play.
He's capable of making a play, but to have to force him to do instead of to have him choose to do it is probably where we wanna be from that defensive front standpoint.
You know when you could when you consider also just looking at some of those grades toe hope some of our fans understand.
It's a 60 so anything under 60 years below average and there's quite a few below 60 grades there for liberty.
So this is an opportunity for Syracuse to rush the quarterback, which is probably the best part about their defense, their ability to rush the quarterback.
And those grades are based on those teams that they played, who I believe are combined one and 11.
There therefore wins, I think, are against a pretty poor Opponents had to e think Western Kentucky and whoever they played week two or one and three and then the other two are or four.
Yeah, so I mean, therefore, no, but they haven't beaten anybody.
And the fact that their players haven't been greeted out very well on the line like you said, I think that's a That's a position where Syracuse who needs to take advantage of it.
We're getting close to kickoff.
So I gotta mention I've got my home field apparel shirt on today, e going with.
I was at the mercy of when I decided to laundry.
So you'll see it tomorrow on live cast.
But today I'm not rocking from the peril I tell because I because I must media neutral for the post game press conferences.
So, uh, eso no Syracuse Garvan for me during these games.
Although it's orange in my heart, as everyone knows way have after mention our partnership with them and thank you could still use the code.
Nunes and U N E s get a percentage would be good for percent off any of your any of your purchase a home field on do any s just put it in a check out as always, consistently quality product, comfortable as all get out.
So great to be part of.
What's that They want Louisville today We'll have to see if they have ah, Katrina in a Pitino or Petrino shirt.
Is there a motorcycle that a motorcycle.
They're saving that for the are you might get white suit.
But they're definitely definitely recommend for people looking toe up there orange gear, especially as we head into sweatshirt seasoning here in central New York.
But I'll be, um I think we are.
Yeah. Well, Frost, this morning.
But remember that game is Yes, right.
So Sports Network Support Network, So make sure you take advantage of it.
It's up in the game thread.
Hey, And remember way don't escape the noodle next week because we're still gonna put you playing Clemson at noon next week, right? Hey, we win this, though, we might get the prime.
Oh, yeah, Yeah. Network.
We might get the lead horse.
Watch him put a different mascots head on.
So long as it's not auburn because he can't put on the Auburn Tiger head on, boy.
Well, thanks for joining us, guys.
And, uh, I guess we'll see how this goes and go orange go orange.