Syracuse opens ACC play today with a noon game against Florida State, while the Penn State Nittany Lions host Kent State in a non-league matchup.
The Orange enter the ACC opener 2-0, while Florida State is 1-1 and has struggled early this year.
“You know I think that we’re getting better,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “Florida State, you know you get excited for a game like that. You’re coming off two big wins and you look at the tape and you’re like wow. Those guys are good. They are really talented. They got outstanding personnel and their good coaches. Coach Taggart has done a nice job, he’s really been on the rise. All the schools he’s been out and now he’s at one of the top schools in the country — potentially a school where you can win national championships consistently every three or four years. They have fantastic talent. They have really good coaches. It’s going to be a really challenging task for us this Saturday.”
Syracuse’s offense was clicking on all cylinders the first two weeks, scoring at least 55 points in each game, and Florida State coach Willie Taggart knows the Orange are a tough test and he knows what his team needs to try and do this week.
“Play great defense and try to not let them score 55 points on us,” Taggart said. “We’re going to go out and study the film today and what we did last night and today and try to put a good game plan together to see to it that we don’t allow that many points. And our guys know it’s going to be a challenge for us, good team. And they play well. They beat some really good teams at home out there in the dome. So our guys understand the challenge and our guys will be up for the challenge. And we’ll look forward to it.”
NITTANY LIONS SET FOR HOME MATCHUP
Penn State coach James Franklin feels like Kent State is a talented team.
“Moving on to Kent State and coach Sean Lewis, who I have a lot of respect for,” Franklin said. “We did a travel camp with those guys a few years ago in Chicago and got a chance to get to know him a little bit. Very, very impressed. Obviously his background is on the offensive side of the ball. He’s a Big Ten guy, played at the University of Wisconsin for Barry Alvarez. So, he understands the conference, as well. They have 12 of 29 starters returning.
“If you look at the Illinois game, they are winning 7-3 in the first quarter. They are winning 17-3 in the second quarter and then they gave up some points in the third quarter but ended up losing 31-24 on the road to Illinois. So again, we’re playing a team that expects to come in and not only compete, but win, and then they were able to get a lot of confidence last week in playing Howard and winning 54-14. You know, a real challenge, I think.”
Franklin knows one of the keys in the game will be slowing down Kent State’s quarterback.
“The quarterback’s a problem,” Franklin said. “Woody Barrett is a problem. Highly, highly-recruited kid. Played in the Under Armour All-American Game, signs with Auburn, transfers out to a junior college and now is starting at Kent State. He’s 6-2, 236 pounds. He can run. He can throw. He’s dynamic. You see guys come through blitzing and he stands in the pocket, they hit him, they bounce off, he keeps his eyes down the field, delivers the strike, will beat you with his legs. He’s a problem. So, we’ve got to be ready and prepared for him. Like everybody in the country, dual-threat quarterbacks are problematic, so we have to be ready for him. And running back, Justin Rankin does a nice job for them, as well, 5’9, 211 pounds.”