Surprising Syracuse takes on Purdue’s dynamic duo
After opening the season with back-to-back blowout victories, Syracuse is off to its best start in four years.
The Orange (2-0) hope their momentum continues Saturday afternoon when Purdue (1-1) pays a visit to the newly named JMA Dome.
Syracuse is beginning to resemble the 2018 squad that won its first four games and went on to post a 10-3 record — the only winning record so far in Dino Babers’ six seasons as Orange coach.
The Orange notched a 31-7 victory over Louisville in their season opener and then pounded UConn 48-14.
Garrett Shrader has completed 79.2 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Eleven different Syracuse players have caught a pass, led by dynamic running back Sean Tucker with 10 catches for 101 yards.
“Shrader does a nice job of picking and choosing his targets,” Babers said. “He’s been extremely accurate this year and his throwing percentages have been extremely high.”
While Shrader has spread the ball around, Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O’Connell has continued to show outstanding chemistry with Charlie Jones, who has a national-best 21 catches covering 286 yards and four TDs.
O’Connell and Jones played youth football together and were reunited when Jones transferred in from Iowa. In the 56-0 rout of Indiana State last week, they hooked up nine times for 133 yards and three scores.
“I think those two have proven that they can make big plays,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “They are a big part of the offense. Just being consistent all year is going to be the key for them — and staying healthy.”
That said, Brohm wants the Boilermakers’ offense to become more diverse: When 72 percent of a quarterback’s passes are targeted to one receiver, Big Ten defenses will draw up ways to make things increasingly difficult.
“I think in order for us to continue to improve, we’ve got to get more and more guys involved,” Brohm continued, “and make sure that numerous guys can step up and make plays in key situations.”
The teams have only met once previously — in 2004. Purdue won that matchup over visiting Syracuse, 51-0.
–Field Level Media