Sep 18, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs with the ball in front of Albany Great Danes defensive back Tyler Carswell (2) on his way to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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Sean Tucker, Syracuse aim to solve Liberty defense

Sean Tucker produced a terrific performance for Syracuse on the ground and in the passing lanes, but the second-year running back and the rest of the Orange are about to encounter a step up in the opposing defense.

The Orange lost at home last year to Liberty and hope to figure out a way to solve one of the most effective defenses in the FBS on Friday night when the teams square off in Syracuse.

Syracuse (2-1) owns wins over Ohio and FCS foe Albany sandwiched around a 17-7 loss to Rutgers. Tucker heads into Friday with 367 yards and six touchdowns on the ground to go along with seven catches and 148 yards and a TD.

Five of those TDs occurred Saturday when Syracuse cruised to a 62-24 rout of Albany. Tucker is up to 993 career rushing yards in his first 12 games and last week he totaled 253 total yards (121 receiving, 132 rushing), becoming the first player to rush for at least 100 yards and have 100 receiving yards in school history.

“It was just seeing a lot of my O-line blocking,” Tucker said. “They were blocking hard all game and giving me opportunities to get to the second level and just run by everyone.”

Tucker gained 111 yards last season when Liberty beat Syracuse 38-21, and this time he encounters a defense that is eighth nationally in yards allowed per game (234), 12th in points allowed (12.3 per game) and 10th in rushing yards per game (53.5).

Liberty (3-0) sandwiched a pair of routs around a 21-13 win at Troy and is led by Malik Willis, who threw for four touchdowns and completed 21 of 28 passes for 242 yards and rushed nine times for 77 yards in Saturday’s 45-17 win over Old Dominion.

“To this point this year, probably so (that it was his best game so far this season),” Liberty coach Hugh Freeze said. “He took two sacks that he should have thrown the ball away on. Other than that, I thought he was pretty dang good.”

So far this year, Willis has totaled 838 yards of offense (613 passing/225 rushing) and 11 TDs (seven passing/four rushing). In last year’s win over Syracuse, Willis completed 16 of 20 passes for 182 yards and also rushed 12 times for 58 yards.

The Flames are 13-1 in their past 14 games and 21-6 since a 24-0 loss to Syracuse in their 2019 season opener.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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